Missing man had been dead for months Bergenline Avenue regular Kozlowski was buried in potter’s field

The case of an elderly North Bergen resident who was reported missing two weeks ago has come to a sad ending.

North Bergen police learned last week that Richard Kozlowski, who was officially reported missing by his daughter after he had not been heard from in months, apparently died in a New York City hospice last October and was buried in a potter’s field in Morganville, N.J. soon after.

The 68-year-old Kozlowski, whose Florida-based daughter said that no one had heard from him since last September, was a regular along Bergenline Avenue near North Hudson Braddock Park. He was often spotted pushing a shopping cart filled with personal belongings, even though he had a home near the park.

That home has since been condemned by the North Bergen Health Department.

According to North Bergen Police Captain Robert Farley, the investigation into Kozlowski’s disappearance took several turns.

Farley said that North Bergen detectives traced the last places Kozlowski was spotted, including the White Castle on Bergenline Avenue at the North Bergen/Fairview border.

“During the course of the investigation, we traced his steps to the White Castle and asked a few of the workers there if they knew of Richie and his whereabouts,” Farley said. “A lot of the people in the neighborhood knew of him and used to see him regularly. We spoke to some of the girls there at White Castle and we were told to look for one woman who worked at the other White Castle in Union City (on Kennedy Blvd.) who might know Richie.”

The woman at the Union City White Castle told police that Kozlowski was befriended by the owner of a Fairview construction company who goes out of his way to help homeless people.

“The man took care of Richie and put him up in a hotel in Fairview for a week,” Farley said. “While Richie was in the hotel, he got sick, and the man took him to Englewood Hospital.”

Hospital for the homeless

But the man was admitted to the hospital as Richie Kozlo.

Farley said that Kozlowski remained in Englewood Hospital for a few weeks, but because he was believed to be destitute, with no money or insurance, Kozlowski was transported to the St. Rose’s hospice for the homeless in New York.

Kozlowski remained in St. Rose’s until he passed away in October, Farley said. The people at the hospice made arrangements for Kozlowski’s funeral and burial because it was believed that he had no living family members.

“The people at St. Rose’s didn’t even know his real name,” Farley said.

Kozlowski was buried in a cemetery in Morganville.

“We know where he’s buried, the plot number, the grave site and all,” Farley said. “He was positively identified by the State Police and they gave the authority to release his death certificate.”

Farley credited the police work of Detective Sgt. Bernadette Paul-Gonyou for heading the investigation.

“She took the bull by the horns and did a lot of the legwork in solving the case,” Farley said. “She was the driving factor in collecting all the information and deserves a lot of the credit for it coming to a rapid conclusion.”

Farley said that there was some good that came out of the unhappy tale and Kozlowski’s ultimate demise.

“Richie apparently had six children from two different wives,” Farley said. “The children were scattered all over the place, but now, because of this, we’ve been able to reunite one of Richie’s sons with his mother.”


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