Update: More details have emerged on the burglary in Silver Beach that put an 87-year-old resident in Stony Brook University Hospital. Retired Episcopal minister Reverend Paul Wancura is in critical condition, according to Suffolk County Police Department officials.
Critical condition means that vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient may be unconscious and health indicators are unfavorable.
At a press conference at Suffolk County Police Department headquarters in Yaphank this afternoon — attended by Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read and Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg — police officials said Reverend Wancura was not the victim of “a random incident” and the police don’t believe the attack “is affecting the safety of other residents on Shelter Island.”
The motive was burglary, the police said, and what was taken from the house is being investigated.
Whether Reverend Wancura knew the perpetrator is under investigation, the police said, but they believe he was specifically targeted.
There is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Reverend Wancura was found tied up by Father Charles McCarron, pastor of the Island’s St. Mary’ Episcopal Church, in a bedroom between the bed and a wall, and could have been in that condition for two days
The police are asking anyone in the area who have video of their homes and grounds that might be useful to the investigation to contact the Shelter Island Police Department or the Suffolk County Police Department.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Below is the original posted story:
Father Charles McCarron, pastor of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, received a phone call from the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island on Monday morning. Reverend Paul Wancura, a former Episcopal archdeacon of Suffolk County, had missed a service he participated in every Sunday at The Church of the Messiah in Central Islip.
“It’s remarkable, even at 87, he never missed a service, driving to Central Islip every Sunday,” Father McCarron said.
Upon arriving at Reverend Wancura’s home on Oak Tree Lane in Silver Beach to check on him, Father McCarron came upon a horrific and heartbreaking scene. The venerable priest was tied up and injured.
“He told me he had been tied up for two days,” Father McCarron. “He was in pretty rough shape. Being immobile for two days and being tied up resulted in most of his injuries.”
Detectives from the Major Case division of the Suffolk County Police Department are investigating the incident in cooperation with the Shelter Island Police Department.
The Suffolk County Police and the Shelter Island Police departments are characterizing the incident as “a burglary during which [Reverend Wancura] was injured.”
After finding Reverend Wancura, Father McCarron called 911 and the Shelter Island Police and Fire departments along with Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene.
It was immediately decided to call for a Suffolk County Police Department helicopter to airlift the elderly minister to Stony Brook University Hospital around 1 p.m.
“I saw him Monday night, “ Father McCarron said. “He’s looking at multiple surgeries.”
The hospital’s director of medicine media relations, Kali Chan, said because of HIPPA regulations they were not releasing any information on Reverend Wancura’s medical status.
A former Rector Emeritus of Caroline Church of Brookhaven in Setauket, Reverend Wancura has served in many roles throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, including serving at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Greenport for a decade.
He is a graduate of Queens College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business Administration, and holds a Master of Divinity degree from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He has also served with the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps in Austria and France.
Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read was asked if there had ever been a similar incident on the Island. “I’m not aware of one,” the chief said.
Islanders who learned of the incident were shocked by the details, considering the extremely low crime rate here, especially crimes of violence.
“To have this happen, in such a violent way to an elderly person is really difficult,” Father McCarron said. “The Island will have to take some time to work through this.”