Around 17 years ago, this month, a close friend of mine was murdered by a Sacramento, CA police officer. No, she wasn’t killed because she didn’t use her turn signals. No, she wasn’t killed because she shoplifted anything. She was murdered because she was the wife of that cop.
I am not writing this story for any other purpose than to honor a friend. A memory that was prompted by the numerous police caused deaths over the past few weeks.
Leslie Baranowski was the head of our clinical nursing program at BD Medical, a major medical device company. In my position, I interacted with Leslie and her team of nurses, who managed clinical trials and who trained other nurses in the use of our devices. She and I travelled all over the world, training sales people, nurses, physicians in how to use our specialized devices.
We were in Singapore a week before she was murdered, and she told me that she had to divorce her husband. She was living in Salt Lake City, but her husband and kids (teenage son and daughter at the time) lived in Sacramento.
She loved her job in Salt Lake City, but her husband wanted her to quit and return to Sacramento. But there was more to this story than that. Apparently, he was abusive to her. Not in the physical way, but he was constantly calling her and screaming at her on the phone. Or writing nasty emails. Not the kind of person I’d want to know.
She told me she was going to fly from Singapore back to Sacramento after our meetings to tell him that she was going to divorce him. Her and her daughter were preparing to move to Salt Lake City (her son was going to college), so I really thought nothing of it. I flew back home soon thereafter, more concerned about the long flight than anything else.
After recovering from jet lag over the weekend, I drove to my office in Salt Lake City. I had about an hour commute, since I lived in Park City, way up in the mountains. Usually during that commute, I would call my assistant, and others, to get updates on what happened while I was out. On this morning, I couldn’t reach anyone, until I finally got through to my admin who told me that I needed to get to the office fast. No clue what was happening.
When I arrived at my office, which was in an large area filled with offices and cubicles, I noticed that lots of people were crying and upset. My admin showed me a printout of the newspaper article (yeah, back then Google didn’t exist, so you had a hard time finding individual articles), and I read the wrong article. Finally, it stuck me what had happened.
Apparently, Leslie told her husband that she was going to divorce her husband on Saturday night. Her kids were staying at a friend’s house that night. On Sunday morning, her cowardly cop husband shot her in the head, then committed suicide. And their bodies were discovered by their children later that morning.
To this day, I mourn the loss of Leslie Baranowski. She was incredibly popular in the California Nursing Association. She was loved by everyone. She did good things for people, like trying to reduce needlestick injuries to nurses and doctors–she would fought for worker’s safety in front of the California Assembly. I’m sure she would have been our ally in SB277 to protect children with vaccines.
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing–her coward husband got a hero’s funeral in downtown Sacramento during his funeral. The thin blue line, from police departments throughout California, saluted him on his way to his burial. I’ll never forget that.