A tragic trail of violence (continued, 2)

The rampage that ended in Joseph Palczynski's death was inevitable, say the women who survived his abuse. He died the way he lived.

First of two parts

Cover Story

July 02, 2000|By Written by Linell Smith, Reported by Smith, Patricia Meisol, Ann LoLordo and Marego Athans | Written by Linell Smith, Reported by Smith, Patricia Meisol, Ann LoLordo and Marego Athans,Sun Staff

(continued, 2)

A jailhouse scheme

Joby rarely -- if ever -- dated just one girl, and he never lacked female friends. If one girlfriend filed assault charges against him, two or three other women were ready to testify that she had made up the whole thing: The Joby they knew would never do something like that.

In the fall of 1995, when things with Michella were strained, Joby struck up a friendship with a starry-eyed teen-ager from Pasadena. Lisa Andersen was 17, a junior at Chesapeake Senior High. He was 22 -- or so she thought.

"When I first met him he said, 'You have a beautiful smile.' I'd think, 'Whoa! I've never had anyone say that to me!' He was like, 'You've got gorgeous eyes and pretty hair.' He treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. ... He was something I had never experienced before."

Suddenly, though, Lisa's new love was whisked away to the Baltimore County Detention Center. He'd been taken there on false charges, he told her. Michella Osborne had been cheating on him, he explained, and when he found out, he pushed her. But that was all.

Lisa believed him and devoted herself to keeping up his spirits.

At first, Joby called collect every other day from jail. Then he began calling more often, in the morning, at midday and in the afternoon. Lisa began cutting school so she could spend the day talking to Joby. He was 007; she was 00 -- "his sidekick, partner in crime."

It wasn't long, Lisa says, before she dropped out of school and moved in with Ramona Contrino, a friend of Joby's. Contrino was using his 300 ZX while he was in jail and would often drive the teen-ager there to see him.

During those visits, Joby sometimes ridiculed Lisa's makeup or clothes. But then he'd apologize: I'm sorry, baby. She attributed his behavior to the stress of jail. It only made her want to help him even more.

Joby began his campaign to intimidate the Osbornes into dropping Michella's charges against him. He accused his former girlfriend of theft, identifying her as an adult on his charging document to get her locked up. The attempt failed. Then he filed charges against Gary Osborne over the fight the summer before, claiming Gary had threatened to "kill my family and blow my house up and cars."

Gary responded by filing charges against Joby for the same incident. Shortly afterward, he awoke one morning to discover his pickup truck vandalized. All four tires were flat. There were deep scratches in the paint on the driver's side, and 10 pounds of sugar had been poured into the gas tank.

When the Osbornes still did not drop their charges for the beating of Michella, Joby upped the ante. He asked Lisa Andersen to accuse Gary Osborne of threatening to blow up her house and kill her if she dared to testify on Joby's behalf.

Lisa was horrified. She wanted no part of it.

Leese, you're going to do it, and you're going to do it NOW, she recalls Joby yelling over the phone one afternoon. You have my car, and you're riding around in it. You do it now, or I'm gonna kill you. You have 15 minutes to go down there, pick up the papers and call me.

The teen-ager decided to pretend she had filed charges. Faking an official's signature on charging documents, she wrote down what he had told her and mailed it off to him.

Joby saw right through it.

"He said, 'Who do you think you're playing with? You lied to me! Do you think this is a game?' " Andersen recalls. "He said, 'If you don't do this, I'm going to kill your family.' "

On April 9, 1996, the 17-year-old drove Joby's car to district court to file charges against a man she had never met. As a minor, Andersen could not legally file charges by herself. But no one asked her for identification. Her charging document stated:

"Sunday, March 31st 1996 at approx. 12:00 p.m. I received my first phone call from the Defendant Gary Osborne he said 'hey you little bitch go ahead and testify for Joe,' then I replied with 'Who's this' he responded with 'this is Gary Osborne, Michella's ------ father.' ... Later that afternoon I received another phone call ... and he said 'Go ahead and mess with my family Bitch. I'll ------ kill you, And blow up your ------ house so go ahead bitch and then it's all over for you.' "

Police arrested Gary Osborne on April 18. Charged with making bomb threats and obscene comments over the phone, he was handcuffed and driven to the Essex police station, where he stayed until his wife could post bail.

Three more times that month, he was arrested on similar charges filed by Ramona Contrino's sister, Carla. Each time, neighbors watched as he was handcuffed and taken away. Each time, the family had to raise the bail money. At one point, while being held in the Baltimore County Detention Center, Gary wore a badge alerting guards to keep him away from another prisoner: Joe Palczynski.

Michella pleaded with her father to let her drop the charges, but Gary Osborne held firm.

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