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A change of mood in Silver Beach


One homeowner described it as a “loss of innocence.” Another said, “I suppose it had to come at some point.”

Marilynn Pysher and Cathy Ann Kenny, residents of Silver Beach, were speaking about the news that another burglary had been reported in their neighborhood two weeks after a horrific home invasion burglary put an elderly minister in the hospital in critical condition.

Residents of the relatively crime free and peaceful area have been shocked along with the rest of the Island about the break-ins and especially the violence inflicted on Reverend Paul Wancura, 87, in his Oak Tree Lane house on March 19.

Ms. Kenny and Ms. Pysher echoed what many are saying, that Silver Beach and the Island at large are places where many people don’t even lock their doors.

But that is changing.

“You have to be more cautious,” said Ms. Kenny, an attorney, adding that she’s also more aware of her situation since she lives alone, and there are few people in residence in the area at this time of year.

“It’s just some weekenders and then summer people,” she said.

Ms. Pysher, a former member of the Shelter Island Board of Education and president of Communities That Care, lives with her husband, Ken. Ms. Pysher said fear, apprehension and anxiety have become part of the atmosphere in the neighborhood now.

She noted that when they travel they see “people living behind bars with 20 locks” and always considered how lucky they were to live in a safe place.

“Safety is worth millions and millions of dollars,” she added. “But now we feel like we’re easy pickings.”

Ms. Kenny said increased police patrols would be reassuring. Ms. Pysher wondered about the effectiveness of more patrols, adding that the police “do a great job.”

Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read told the Reporter that “the Silver Beach area has the full attention of the police department. This includes police patrols, neighborhood canvassing and other investigative functions. Our focus is to give the residents some piece of mind and to resolve the two burglaries that occurred in March.”

Julius Manchise, who is a past president of the Silver Beach Association, lived there for 23 years with his wife, Gladys, before moving away. He was “heartsick at the reports of what has happened.”

Reverend Wancura was on the association’s board of directors during Mr. Manchise’s tenure and they were good friends.

“Paul would call me at least once a month to ask me to come by with my bicycle pump and pump air in his tires,” Mr. Manchise remembered.

He also recalled that his friend enjoyed a good cigar, but wouldn’t smoke at home. “If you were out for a walk, sometimes you’d come upon a scent of cigar smoke and you’d smile, knowing Paul had just passed by,” Mr. Manchise said.

For people who have lived in Silver Beach, and of those living there now, Mr. Manchise described feelings of “fear and confusion. But hopefulness, too, that [the criminal] will be caught.

Ms. Pysher agreed. “People will feel better when this is solved,” she said.