Elderly man’s death deemed ‘very suspicious’ by police

(J.P. Smollins, WPRI-TV)

CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — Cumberland police are investigating the death of an elderly resident after deeming the circumstances “very suspicious.”

Investigators were seen Wednesday at the Indiana Avenue home of 80-year-old Stanley J. Stowik Sr., days after he passed away.

According to Stowik’s online obituary, the lifelong Cumberland resident died unexpectedly at his home on Friday. Police have not said how he died.

Cumberland Police Chief John Desmarais confirmed they are treating Stowik’s death as a homicide. He said investigators have been analyzing evidence at the home since receiving a tip on Saturday.

Stowik’s death is not believed to be random, but rather a targeted incident, according to the chief. He said they do have suspects, and the case could be elevated to murder in the near future.

“The neighbors should not be worried at all,” said Desmarais. “We believe it was a targeted situation, where this man was targeted for a specific reason.”

Stowik’s obituary said he was a Navy veteran who served in the Korean War, and he left a large family behind. Neighbors referred to him as “mayor of Indiana Avenue,” and said he decorated the whole street with American flags.

“Really nice guy. I don’t know why anybody would hurt him,” one neighbor reacted.

Despite it being a targeted incident, neighbor Ruben Caycho said it’s still alarming having it happen so close to home.

“Scary, because this neighborhood is nice and quiet and I never hear of a problem like this in all this area of Cumberland, so it’s kind of a creepy thing,” he said.

Police have been questioning people since Sunday. They won’t identify who called in Stowik’s death since it’s part of their investigation.

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