George Reich, 79, of Bohemia, church deacon, retired NYPD, has died
According to his wife Linda’s estimate, George Reich visited approximately 2,500 crime scenes as a ballistics forensic scientist for the NYPD, helping solve murders and other crimes as he closely examined The balls.
But he had another life, too, as a churchman. After retiring from the NYPD and the Suffolk County Crime Lab, Reich became an ordained deacon in the Roman Catholic Church on Long Island. For years he worked in the social ministry of Catholic Charity parishes, helping the needy.
Colleagues and relatives said the two lives had a common theme for Reich, a longtime resident of Bohemia who died Saturday at 79: service.
“Service is kind of essential to who we are as a community,” said Reverend Joseph Schlafer, pastor of St. John Nepomucene in Bohemia, where Reich had been a parishioner since 1973. “You can do it as a policeman. , you can do it as a deacon.These are different types of service.
Reich “just lived a wonderful life of what I would call loving, joyful service,” Schlafer said. “He was an example of what it means to live the values of the Gospel. He was an example for all of us. »
His wife, Linda Sherlock-Reich, said: “He was like an angel on earth. So many people talked to him, shared their misfortunes with him. He touched the world.
George Reich was born and raised in the Bronx, attending St. Raymond High School and then Fordham Prep for high school. From there, he would join the NYPD, inspired by an uncle who worked in the ballistics section of the department.
As a detective and a member of the team himself, Reich would go to filming scenes and morgues, checking bodies, bullets and guns, and microscopically examining them to link them – or not. – connect them, said his wife, who was herself a medical examiner at the Suffolk County Crime Lab, where they met.
Reich became highly respected both in the NYPD, where he spent two decades, and later in the Suffolk lab.
“He was a consummate professional,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, who served as an assistant district attorney in the 1990s when he worked with Reich. “He was a great guy. An excellent medical examiner.”
Reich was often called to testify at trials, Tierney said.
“George was the guy you relied on because he really looked after you and he really had tremendous expertise.”
In the late 1990s, Reich was brought to reexamine the 1968 assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in part at the behest of the civil rights icon’s family, according to Tierney and Reich’s wife .
Questions have been raised as to who killed King, with allegations surfacing that “suggest that persons other than or in addition to James Earl Ray participated in the assassination”, according to the US Department of Health’s website. Justice.
Reich was one of three ballistics experts who traveled to a Rhode Island lab to conduct tests and examinations of the bullet and gun that killed King, his wife said. The investigation did not yield any new findings about King’s murder.
Around the same time, Reich was devoting himself full-time to his other passion: religious work.
He and his wife trained at the Diocese of Rockville Center Pastoral Training Institute, which prepared lay people to work in parishes.
He took full-time employment with Catholic Charities, helping run their social ministry programs.
“His heart and passion were more about people than guns and crime,” his wife said.
Still, there was a connection to his police work, she said, because he saw church work in part as a way to keep people out of bad situations.
“What can we do to help people before they get to the point where they commit a crime,” was a theme that drove her husband, Linda Sherlock-Reich said.
“I know people in need get to the point where they become criminals in our eyes,” she said, “but often they work for survival and they do something because they’re trying to to survive.”
Laura A. Cassell, CEO of Catholic Charities of Long Island, said after Reich retired from the social ministry team, he remained active with the organization as a longtime chaplain. .
Reich “held a very special place in the hearts of the families we helped after 9/11, as well as those devastated by Super Hurricane Sandy,” Cassell said. “He helped build a better, kinder Long Island and brought comfort and healing to everyone he met.”
Besides his wife, Reich is survived by his sons Brad, of Lindenhurst, Brian, of Patchogue, Christopher, of Wantagh and Frank, of Pennsylvania.
A wake will be held Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Home in Bayport. A transfer mass will be held Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Saint-Jean Népomucène, with a funeral mass at noon Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. John’s Parish Outreach, 1140 Locust Ave, Bohemia, New York, 11716, or Catholic Charities CARES Program, 90 Cherry Lane, Hicksville, New York 11801.