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Queens Chronicle

Seven years later, murder trial starts

Rockaway landlord charged with killing tenant days before Sandy

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019 10:30 am

In early October 2012, the talk of the Rockaways was the death of a popular, 39-year-old city schoolteacher, murdered in her newly built townhouse, just a block off the beach.

Karla Shah Boguwalski was stabbed in the neck seven or eight times, her body wrapped in a painter’s tarp and left in the empty apartment above the one she shared with her husband.

Cops at the time said they were looking for the doctor who owned the townhouse.

Three weeks later, Hurricane Sandy washed over the Rockaways and suddenly the murder was no longer Topic A.

Boguwalski’s death seemed lost in the past until last week when — seven years later — her accused killer, Dr. Keith Howard, quietly went on trial in Queens Criminal Court.

Even by the measure of usually slow-moving homicide trials, it has taken Howard — who has been held in jail without bail since he was arrested a week after the body was discovered — a long time to get to court.

“It’s a messy case,” said a source close to the case who provided background but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

According to prosecutors, Howard, who had a medical degree but never practiced medicine nor applied for a medical license, was obsessed with Boguwalski.

Howard’s wife, Ma Guillerma, bought the townhouse on Seaspray Avenue in Arverne in February 2012, apparently as an investment, according to property records.

Howard and his wife rented the downstairs unit to Boguwalski, an ESL instructor at nearby PS 43, and intended to live in the apartment upstairs themselves, said the source.

When the teacher failed to come home on Oct. 2, her husband called police and told them he saw blood on the stairs going up the Howard’s apartment, which was empty at the time.

Police discovered the body in the bathroom upstairs.

News reports at the time said Boguwalski had complained to police earlier that Howard had entered her apartment unannounced on more than one occasion.

This trial before Judge Barry Schwartz is in fact Howard’s second.

At his first trial last year, the jury declared it was hopelessly deadlocked on a verdict. Whether it was a single juror or more who voted for acquittal was never made public.

Howard’s defense rests largely on the question of whether a slight man in his sixties who’d suffered a documented heart attack before the murder was physically capable of carrying the body up a flight of stairs.

The trial’s key witness, Boguwalski’s husband, reportedly investigators’ initial suspect, is expected to take the stand next week.

Howard’s lawyer, Harold Ruvoldt, predicted it will be a long trial, probably about a month.

He has not yet decided if Howard will take the stand in his own defense, the attorney said.

Meanwhile, the house where the murder took place is still owned by Howard’s wife, according to property records.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • TimLeonard posted at 7:24 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2019.

    TimLeonard Posts: 0

    What was the verdict on this trial? I have been researching, but can't find any reports on a verdict.

  • TimLeonard posted at 7:08 pm on Thu, Oct 17, 2019.

    TimLeonard Posts: 0

    Sorry for being so late on the comment, but a couple of things here:

    1. There was a trial for this case two years ago. I know because I was on the jury. And it may not have been the first trial. To say it took a long time to come to trial is just factually incorrect.

    2. Carla was found in the apartment BELOW the one she lived in.

    3. Carla and her husband rented the apartment on the THIRD floor. The ground floor was empty and Howard occasionally stayed in the apartment on the second floor.

    4. I'd be happy to discuss the jury vote with you, but will not post it here. Feel free to e-mail me at TLeon12265@yahoo.com

    5. Howard did not testify in the trial I witnessed. I doubt he did in the second one.

    6. You mention Superstorm Sandy, but no mention of how it destroyed critical evidence? Come on. That's lazy.