NY - Paramedic partners busted in wife’s blaze death
Was it the Emergency “Murder” Service?
Two paramedic partners who worked together for years on an ambulance out of Jamaica Hospital have been busted in the mysterious 2008 death of the estranged wife of one of the men.
Instead of saving lives, Paul Novak and Scott Sherwood are now locked up awaiting their next court date on charges of second-degree murder.
The arrests Thursday seemed to confirm suspicions that first arose four years ago when a predawn fire killed Catherine Novak, 41, in her home in upstate Narrowsburg.
“There were members of the community who thought Paul was involved from the beginning,” said the Rev. Phyllis Haynes, the Novaks’ pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
On Dec. 2, 2008, Paul Novak, who was in the middle of divorcing his wife, picked up his two young children from the family home in the small Catskills town and took them back to his residence on Long Island.
The next day, a blaze consumed the Narrowsburg house.
Catherine Novak, a former local school-board member, was found dead in the basement, lying face up. Investigators at the time said they didn’t know how Novak ended up there since it didn’t appear she fell through a floor.
An autopsy found the mother of two died because debris on her chest had left her unable to breathe. But the level of carbon monoxide found in her blood was not enough to kill her.
Two months after the blaze, and after more than 100 people were interviewed, investigators said there was no evidence of arson or murder.
But doubts remained.
“This case has been very bothersome because there are questions that we cannot answer,” then-Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen said in February 2009.
Paul Novak, 45, worked at Jamaica Hospital in Queens from 1991 to 2010, a résumé on his LinkedIn Web page shows.
Sherwood, 40, who joined the ambulance service in 1998, still works for the hospital but is now suspended.
He also endured marital and financial woes. He was divorced and filed for bankruptcy in 2006, listing debts of $343,460.
Police released few details on the case and would not explain each man’s alleged role in the death.
“There was always some underlying issues that had taken place there where we never really closed the case,” State Police Capt. Joseph Tripodo told a local cable station.
Novak, who was also charged with arson, was arrested in Flagler County, Fla., where he bought a house in 2009. He was living there with his two children and had apparently remarried.
But he was not exactly running from the law.
According to his online résumé, he worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for five months dispensing medication to prisoners. He was also a volunteer firefighter.
Sherwood lives in a two-family house in Lindenhurst, LI. His landlord told The Post that he felt comfortable renting to Sherwood because he thought his work as a paramedic indicated he had integrity.
The landlord said Sherwood, who has a 10-year-old son, had remarried just two weeks ago.