[Photo on Aug. 31 by Blair Hopkins]
On Aug. 31, police found the body of a man in a car on 12th Street just west of Avenue B ... and steps away from Joseph C. Sauer Park.
Michael Wilson at the Times files a lengthy piece on 61-year-old Geoffrey Corbis, who changed his surname from Weglarz, a software engineer who took his life in the car by ingesting a vial of poison. His body remained in the car for a week.
The chain of events serves as a stark reminder that even in 2018 Manhattan, a city that lives beneath the nonstop gaze of countless surveillance cameras, one that for years has urged its citizens, if they see something suspicious, to say something, it is still possible for a dead man in a parked car on a busy block to go unnoticed for days.
The events leading up to and following that August day also unspool a story about a distressed man’s plan to raise some fast cash, thwarted by circumstance, and his grim resolve in his final hours to end his life, detailed in farewell text messages to his loved ones.
What's especially striking and heartbreaking is that his family asked the police for help in finding him, but they were met with resistance — and bureaucracy.
You can read the article to learn more about how the Connecticut resident ended up in the East Village. (It's a lot to summarize.)
Weglarz lived in NYC for many years, and worked at the software company Hyperion with Yale, Harvard and Brown among the schools who were his clients. As the article noted, he was married and had a son, and later lived in a 19th-century house in Fairfield, Conn. Following a series of mergers in the software industry, he ended up at Dell, but eventually grew tired of the travel. Now in his 50s, he struggled to find work, having applied for nearly 500 jobs. He was divorced earlier, and shared custody of his son.
Weglarz, who had been growing despondent over job prospects and financial difficulties, apparently drank the vial of poison used for euthanasia in his car on 12th Street on Aug. 24. (Earlier he told his sister that he bought the vial on the dark web.)
On that day, he texted Sal Biagini, a friend in New York. Concerned by the tone of the texts, Biagini called 911. The NYPD traced Weglarz’s phone to the closest address, 520 E. 12th St. However, they didn't take notice of the car parked nearby. Other neighbors and city employees also overlooked the man slumped behind the wheel.
Traffic officers who write parking tickets most likely passed by him at least twice, on days that his car was parked illegally. Officers looking for violators on street-cleaning days — on East 12th Street, those days were Tuesday and Friday — routinely ignore vehicles when the driver is sitting inside. Mr. Weglarz’s vehicle received no tickets on the Tuesday or Friday when it was parked illegally, suggesting an officer might have seen him and assumed he was just another idle driver.
A week passed before he was discovered.
The episode left Mr. Weglarz’s family furious with the police. They don’t believe the chances were high that their brother could have been rescued after ingesting the poison, but they said he should not have been left there for a week.
The police spokesman, J. Peter Donald, said officers did what they could with the information they had, including canvassing city hospitals. “Unfortunately, those efforts did not locate Mr. Corbis,” he said.
Mr. Weglarz was cremated in September. His sister plans to scatter his ashes in Manhattan, home to many successes in his acting years and where he began his computer career, long before the day he parked his car on the street and never left.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader report: Body found in car on 12th Street near Avenue B