I hurt my back playing hockey Friday, so I’ve been convalescing. I sort of have to do a lot of spine re-adjustments depending if I’m sitting, standing or lying down. Pushing a shopping cart seems to help, so I’ve made several runs to the grocery store.
I see Jim Nesbitt has his piece in this morning’s N&O (Jim was the guy at the rink on friday). I wish he didn’t call us “rink rats”, it implies a sort of “junkie” status, ours was always more of a religious devotion to hockey – how about, the disciples of defense, the lords of left wing…
kings of the crease?
Anyway, this article certainly shows a lot more than I ever knew about Jim:
Few details about family emerge
Neighbors, friends remember slain couple.
By JIM NESBITT AND ANNE BLYTHE,
HILLSBOROUGH — For four years, John Allore and Jim Sapikowski mixed it up on the hard ice of the Triangle Sportsplex, banging around the net of a hockey goal in a friendly Friday afternoon pickup game.
During any of these four-on-four runs the ice hockey equivalent of a half-court hoops game you might see a municipal finance officer like Allore on a team with “the baker from Costco and the mailman,” as he put it.
Allore knew Sapikowski, a 6-foot 6-inch defenseman, as head coach of the UNC-Chapel Hill club team and as a Carolina Hurricanes season ticket holder. He also knew Sapikowski had a daughter interested in acting, which played to Allore’s role as managing director of the Deep Dish Theater Co. in Chapel Hill.
“We talked about hockey; we talked about theater,” said Allore, 41. “We all knew each other intimately, but we didn’t know each other’s lives.”
The two rink rats shared a passion for playing hockey a strong but narrow connection of athletics and locker room conversations.
As investigators probe the April 29 shotgun slayings of Sapikowski, 52, and his wife Alison, 49, at their Whitley Drive home in Chapel Hill, Allore’s limited recollections are typical of the fragmented image of the family emerging from public records, friends and neighbors and business associates.
Their youngest son, Adam, 17, a junior at Durham Academy, is being held without bail in the Orange County jail on first-degree murder charges.
Chapel Hill police say he confessed to killing his parents with a .410-gauge Harrington & Richardson shotgun. Officers found the bodies in a first-floor master bedroom and bathroom shortly after daybreak May 14.
Police found Adam Sapikowski at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Durham just before dawn that same day. They say the track and cross country athlete went to his April 30 prom and may have hosted a small party afterward at his home with his parents’ bodies wrapped in bloody blankets behind a barricaded bedroom door.
Investigators are trying to establish a motive for the killings and determine Adam Sap-ikowski’s activities in the two weeks between the double murder and his arrest. They say he acted alone.
Jennifer Lonnman, the Durham teenager who led police to the Marriott, did not know about the slayings, said Barry Winston, her Chapel Hill lawyer.
Winston would not say what reasons Adam Sapikowski gave Lonnman for staying in the hotel.
“All of that is part of the investigation, and I cannot comment on that,” Winston said.
The Marriott’s general manager has said Sapikowski checked in and out of the hotel, which is about five miles from the private school, starting May 1.
Durham Academy officials and the Sapikowski family have remained tight-lipped. The family has asked to be left alone and school officials have asked students and parents not to talk about the case publicly.
But even some family members want answers.
Debra Ann Byars, Jim Sapikowski’s first wife and mother of his two older sons, didn’t want to talk about her family. Still, she has the same questions about why the shootings took place and why it took so long for the bodies to be discovered.
“Everybody’s puzzled,” she said. “My kids would like the answers too.”
Sapikowski had two children with his second wife, Alison, whom neighbors described as an artistic brunette with a Martha Stewart streak who loved to play tennis.
Adam’s sister, Lauren, a dean’s list student at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., has returned to the small, private liberal arts campus.
The weekend following the discovery of her parents’ bodies, the college freshman was on stage in “The Tamer Tamed,” playwright John Fletcher’s witty sequel to Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Students and professors were asked to give Lauren space. An e-mail from the dean of students went out to a campus list-serv May 17.
“Lauren will be returning to campus this week to finish the term and has expressed that she wants to be in a place she considers home right now where the recent events are not the center of attention,” Dawn Watkins, dean of students, said in the note.
As Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Grace and other national TV personalities broadcast what few details they had about the case, Washington and Lee’s student newspaper, the Ring-tum Phi, killed a story.
“We didn’t print anything because Lauren’s wishes were that the campus know as little as possible,” said Erin Julius, editor-in-chief. “Through a friend, she let it be known that she wanted it to be kept as quiet as possible, that she didn’t want that stigma on campus.”
On May 16, family members filled a whole row in the Hillsborough courtroom for Adam Sapikowski’s first appearance.
On May 21, his 17th birthday, four people, including Lonnman, visited him at the Orange County Jail. Not one was a family member.
Jim Sapikowski was born in Detroit and graduated in 1974 from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in math. Before starting an independent oil and gas exploration company, J5 Inc., in 1989, he worked for several larger oil and gas companies, including Champion Petroleum and ANR Production Co.
Sapikowski married his first wife, Debra Ann, in August 1974 in Hartford, Mich. They moved to Colorado in 1980 and separated in December 1981.
In July 1982, they filed for divorce, five months after the birth of their second son, Brandon. Their oldest son, Christopher, was born in March 1978. A judge in Denver granted a divorce in July 1984. Two years later, the couple agreed that Christopher would live with his father and Brandon with his mother.
His second wife was born in Boston and raised in California. After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in art history, she received a master’s in business administration in 1979 from the University of Southern California, school records show.
She worked for Conoco, an oil company, and the Michigan-Wisconsin Pipeline Co., a natural gas transmission outfit, according to the J5 Web site. Later renamed ANR Pipeline Co., it was a subsidiary of American Natural Resources Co., the parent company of ANR Production Co., Jim Sapikowski’s employer.
The J5 Inc. Web site lists company offices in Cincinnati, Detroit and El Paso, Texas. The company first acquired properties for exploration in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi in 1989 and lists discoveries in Montmorency County, Michigan, on the state’s Upper Peninsula; and, Caddo and DeSoto parishes near Shreveport, La.
In Louisiana, where J5 Inc. made discoveries in 1994, the Sapikowskis invested in JM Exploration, a small oil and gas exploration outfit that focused on the Gulf coast of Louisiana, eastern Texas and Mississippi, said Al Jones, one of the company’s two partners.
Andrea Sullivan, a senior geologist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, worked closely with Sapikowski and his son Chris for more than a decade on natural gas leases in Montmorency and Otsego counties.
“He always went above and beyond what he needed to do,” she said. “It was ‘How can I fix it?’ if something went wrong and ‘How can I make it better?’ A real forward-thinking person.”
Move to Chapel Hill
It is unclear why the Sapikowskis moved to Chapel Hill. The couple had a Mount Bolus Road address in June 1992, public records indicate, and bought a home on Wellington Drive in April 1993. They bought the Whitley Drive home in the The Oaks neighborhood in May 1998.
The Sapikowskis played tennis at the Chapel Hill Tennis Club and later the Chapel Hill Country Club. They played bridge with other couples and she played Bunco, a dice game.
In a town known for its liberal politics, the Sapikowskis contributed $4,781 to national and state Republican candidates and organizations during the 2004 election cycle, according to campaign finance records.
Neighbors have been searching for details that might have foreshadowed the grisly killings.
The rink rats at the SportsPlex also have questions.
The day after the bodies were found, Allore posted a note on his Web blog about making the next Friday game in memory of his slain hockey buddy.
In response, Lauren Sapikowski posted a May 18 note: “I would give anything to see you all play. Unfortunately, I am trying to move on with life and so went back to college to finish the play, which opens the 20th. My dad loved seeing my plays so I think it is important I am here. … I know that somewhere dad is smiling that you are all playing in his name.”
Although the rink rats knew Sapikowski as an aggressive player, Allore said he saw a gentler giant at the Friday runs.
Sapikowski was quick to praise a great pass or a scoring slap shot, particularly from a teen player. He was also quick to cool down players who wanted to change the runs into a hitting game.
“He was a leader,” he said. “I never saw the competitiveness. When he came out on Fridays, he just wanted to have a good time.”