A local teacher who molested his charges was allowed to take a new job in West Virginia, where a student died in his care.
Lewis didn't care much for the new hire, so he stayed out of his way, and years went by without incident. He didn't become suspicious until he saw Friedrichs holding the child so closely.
The boy Lewis saw in Friedrichs' lap is now approaching 50 and has teenage sons of his own. His name is Eddie Bartholomew, and he told Barber that Friedrichs liked to screw with little boys' heads. He said he'd never told anyone how badly Friedrichs, who had once been his favorite teacher, had made him feel.
Sometimes, Bartholomew told Barber, Friedrichs would be nice, and sometimes he'd be weird. There was the time he told him he should tuck his shirt deep into his underwear, and not just in his pants. Then he proceeded to undo his pants and tuck his shirt in for him.
But that wasn't what made Bartholomew hate him. It was when Friedrichs staged a boxing match between him and another boy--a tough kid who could really fight. Bartholomew says he was beaten bloody. Decades later the pounding he took is still vivid enough for him to wonder what kind of sick pleasure his teacher took in seeing him nearly killed.
He says Friedrichs saw what was happening and wouldn't stop the fight. He stopped talking to Friedrichs after that.
Boxing, Barber learned, was a recurring theme. Former students said Friedrichs would introduce boxing to boys he thought had behavior problems--though some, like Bartholomew, thought he just liked watching kids get hurt. The more parents, teachers and former students Barber spoke to, the more convinced he became that Friedrichs had killed Jeremy, perhaps in the course of some sort of dangerous sado-sexual game.
Through his sources Barber began to get a picture of who the favorites--he called them "golden boys"--were. He learned which boys were held after school the most, which ones had their desks pulled up to the front of the room near Friedrichs'.
He saved these critical interviews for last, waiting till he'd amassed enough circumstantial evidence to zero in on what he was really after.
Kuharik, who took notes as Barber conducted the interviews, says seeing Barber in action was really something. First he would give his subjects general information about how pedophiles work and put Friedrichs in context.
Then he'd say he suspected Friedrichs had molested students in West Virginia. Then he'd tell the man something like, "Look, I know you were one of Friedrichs' favorites. You were a safety-boy, you stayed late and he drove you home sometimes. Why don't you tell us what else happened. He molested you, didn't he?"
Inwardly cringing, Kuharik says she often thought during those moments, "Oh God, what if he's wrong?" But time after time the man being questioned would come to trust Barber enough to tell him things he'd kept locked inside for decades.
Their stories were truly disturbing. One former student now in his early 40s told Barber that Friedrichs said he could help him get over his shyness by doing exercises with him. Friedrichs would have the boy read from a book while he crouched beside him, his face just inches from the boy's face. As the boy sweated and squirmed, Friedrichs smiled.
Once, when the same boy hurt himself in gym class, Friedrichs had him stay after school to check for "hidden injuries." Alone in the classroom, he had the boy strip naked while he poked and probed. He told him not to tell anyone. Soon after Friedrichs performed oral sex on the 12-year-old boy in the book closet.
Barber spoke with another man in Friedrichs' fifth-grade class. He described being told to stay at school after the other kids had gone home. At first Friedrichs began groping him through his clothes, but as the semester progressed, so did Friedrichs' demands.
Soon he was performing oral and anal sex on the boy in the book closet. He got into a routine of stripping the boy, masturbating on him, cleaning him up and then driving him home by dinnertime.
Both of these victims had been among those questioned by school officials in 1973. At the time Marise Stillman didn't know the extent of Friedrichs' crimes. But they did.
The victims' stories merely confirmed for Barber what his sixth sense had told him all along: Friedrichs was capable of the unspeakable.
By the end of his 12-month investigation, Barber had a complete profile of Friedrichs. He felt he knew him inside and out.
He knew that Friedrichs liked boys 10 to 12 years old--skinny ones with fair complexions. He knew he'd choose his victims from a select group. During the school year it would be a safety guard or an honor student; in the summer it might be the boys at the pool or those he taught to box in his backyard.
Armed with the sworn statements of the early Prospect Park victims, Barber was ready to head to West Virginia.
PW's Summer Guide 2015