Community mourns death of Waterford police officer
Waterford ― A town police officer died by suicide at his mother’s gravesite in Preston Monday afternoon.
Adam Lapkowski, 37, was found by state and local police at the Poquetanuck Cemetery on Route 2A.
“Adam was a great person. He was one of our finest officers who was highly respected, well liked and incredibly skilled,” said Waterford Police Chief Marc Balestracci. “He was a friend, a mentor and a valuable asset to our officers and the community. His legacy will continue to impact many.”
On Monday afternoon, state and local police responded to a Waterford police broadcast to be on the lookout for a distraught male in a vehicle who was potentially armed. Ledyard Police Chief John Rich said his department received the radio alert at 12:07 p.m.
State police arrived at the cemetery at 12:18 p.m., with Ledyard officers arriving a few minutes later.
Officers found Lapkowski on the ground and unresponsive, according to the state police report. Emergency medical services pronounced him dead on the scene.
Lapkowski’s biological mother, Joanne Witt-Lapkowski, was buried in the cemetery after she was murdered in 1996. Scott McLeod confessed to killing the 40-years-old Witt-Lapkowski during an argument in her Norwich apartment. He is serving a 40-year prison sentence and is scheduled to be released in 2036.
State police said the investigation into Lapkowski’s death is ongoing. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed Tuesday that Lapkowski’s death was a suicide caused by a gunshot wound to the head.
Lapkowski, who lived in Uncasville, graduated from the police academy in December 2008 and joined the patrol division in 2009. He was named Waterford’s Policeman of the Year in 2019.
A Waterford native, Lapkowski attended Great Neck School as a child and graduated from Waterford High School in 2003. He attended the University of Connecticut at Avery Point for two years before studying finance at Southern Connecticut State University.
John Lapkowski, Adam’s uncle and adoptive father, recalled Wednesday how his son “always wanted to be a police officer” since he was a kid.
“Not too many people get to be what they wanted when they were a kid,” he said.
He remembered his son as a great athlete, particularly in basketball. He played three seasons of varsity basketball at Waterford High School before playing two years at UConn Avery Point. Lapkowski said his son was smart and excelled in math and reading growing up. He remembered taking Adam and his friends to Yankee Stadium and family dinners at Huey’s Restaurant.
“I used to always grab this guy and say ‘I love this little guy’,” he said of his son.
“It’s sad,” he added. “I’m just busted up just thinking that is there someway I could of found he was on the outs and try to pick him up.”
Lapkowski leaves behind his wife, Shana Golden, and two sons. Lapkowski had filed for divorce from Golden in November and the case was pending at the time of his death.
“It’s tragic,” Rich, the Ledyard chief said. “Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to the officer’s family and his workmates from the Waterford police department.”
Help is available
Help is available 24/7 for anyone with suicidal thoughts. Call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or text HOME to 74174. Learn more about suicide prevention at www.preventsuicidect.org.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to remove the names of the officer’s children to protect their identity.