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Queens Mom Believes Son Was Poisoned, Wants His Body Exhumed for Testing

By James Fanelli | January 29, 2014 8:46am
 A Queens mother wants her son's body exhumed and tested for poison. She filed a petition in Queens Supreme Court last week, asking a judge to give her permission to dig up her son's body.
A Queens mother wants her son's body exhumed and tested for poison. She filed a petition in Queens Supreme Court last week, asking a judge to give her permission to dig up her son's body.
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RICHMOND HILL — The mother of a young computer technician who died suddenly less than a month after getting married and taking out a life insurance policy says she believes that someone intentionally poisoned her son.

Rosalia Kontizas has grown so suspicious of the circumstances surrounding her son’s mysterious death in 2007 that she filed court papers last week asking a judge to let her exhume his body and have it tested for toxins.

Kontizas’ son, Demostenis Kontizas, was 29 when he died on July 17, 2007. Less than a month earlier, the Brazilian-born Corona, Queens, resident had married his longtime girlfriend, Jennie Kontizas. The two already had a child together, and Jennie was pregnant with twins. 

The young dad was in reasonably good health, Rosalia’s filing says, but on the morning of July 16, 2007, he fell ill and was rushed by ambulance to St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst.

The city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on Demonstenis and, basing its decision on the hospital’s data, determined that sepsis due to E. Coli bacteria caused the death, the filing says.

But Rosalia, a certified EMT who lives in Richmond Hill, Queens, had a gnawing suspicion that someone slipped him rat poison.

“I remained uncomfortable with the determination of my son’s cause of death and after several years, the feeling that he was intentionally poisoned never left me,” she wrote in the papers filed in Queens Supreme Court.

The mother’s suspicions mounted over time — but the first inkling began at the hospital, according to the court papers.

She claimed while her son was being treated, she overheard two of his friends saying, “it was a good thing [Demostenis] had just gotten a life insurance policy so the kids would be taken care of.”

While Rosalia’s filing doesn’t say who she believes poisoned her son, she doesn’t speak highly of his wife.

Demostenis died in the early hours of July 17, while Jennie was at home sleeping, according to the court papers. Rosalia, who had remained at the hospital, called Jennie to break the news, but her son’s wife didn’t rush back to the hospital, the filing claims.

“[Jennie] said she still needed to sleep and arrived about 1 p.m.” Rosalia wrote in her filing.

Rosalia says she was also miffed by Jennie’s demeanor at the funeral.

“At the cemetery, Jennie was not crying, but when she caught me looking at her, she started to wail,” Rosalia wrote in the court filing. “I told her to stop the show and she then stopped. I never saw her shed one tear.”  

In the following years, Rosalia stayed in touch with Jennie and regularly visited the three children Demostenis had with her.

In August 2011 she told Jennie that she wanted to exhume her son’s body to test it for poison, but her ex-daughter-in-law said no, according to the filing.

“At that time Jennie told me she did not want my son’s body exhumed and that he should rest in peace,” Rosalia wrote.

The mom claims that two months later she went to visit Jennie, but she learned that her son’s wife had moved and had not provided a forwarding address.

“My husband told me he had heard that Jennie’s boyfriend wanted her to have no contact with us and that they may have moved to Florida,” she wrote.

Rosalia said she tried to contact Jennie but could not find her.

In May 2013 she hired Dr. Eugene Olenko, a private medical examiner, who said that her son’s symptoms were consistent with the ingestion of rat poison, the filing says.

Rosalia’s filing requests that Demostenis’ medical records be released to her and that Queens' Maple Grove Cemetery — where her son is buried — approve the exhumation of his remains for testing.

When reached by phone, Rosalia declined to discuss the case.

Jennie Kontizas, who now lives in Florida, told DNAinfo New York in a phone conversation that Rosalia never asked her about digging up Demostenis' remains. She also said she has nothing to hide.

She confirmed that husband took out a life insurance policy before his death.

“Why would she wait all this time?” she asked. “It’s been almost seven years. If she did speak to me, I would have said, ‘Yes. Do it right now. Let’s do this.'”

Jennie said she doesn’t believe her husband, an information technology administrator, was poisoned — but blamed the hospital for providing poor treatment.

“We always believed that the people at the hospital did not take care of him,” Jennie said.

Jennie and Demostenis had dated for five years when they got married in June 2007. She said that she was seven-months pregnant when her husband died. She had expected to spend her life with him, raising their children.

“I was devastated,” she said. “To this day, I have no peace about it. It’s just one of those things that I just don’t understand how come this happened."