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Shooting Victim and Canton High School Graduate Beth Day Had Planned to Leave Her Boyfriend, Family Says

Day, a member of the Class of 2006, will be remembered as a loving mother, a devoted worker and an artist.

Elizabeth Marie "Beth" Day, 24, was planning to break up with her live-in boyfriend Michael Wawrzyniak, 25, and move with their 14-month-old son Dominik from Simsbury to her parents’ house in Canton, according to her family.

Instead, on Sept. 18, Wawrzyniak shot her in their Meadows apartment in Simsbury and then took his own life, according to police and preliminary findings from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington. Day had called 911 to report that her boyfriend had a gun pointed at her and the dispatcher heard shots fired while she was on the line, police previously reported.

"The couple had been dating for about two years. Their baby Dominik was in a separate room when Beth was shot within a couple feet of the closed door, her mother said.

Beth’s parents — Joan and James — are currently taking care of their grandson. The Days are trying to get full custody of Dominik and are meeting with a Connecticut Department of Children and Families representative this week.

A lover of scary movies, fast rides with big drops, and Halloween — but scared of spiders — Beth was already looking at lion costumes for Dominik to wear trick-or-treating this year.

“There’s nothing I won’t remember [about her],” Joan Day said of her daughter, who was 10 months old when the Days moved from Unionville into their first house in Canton. “She’ll be a part of my life forever.”

Jocelyn Hollfelder, 24, who has been one of Beth’s best friends since elementary school in Canton, heard reports of the fatal shooting at Beth’s apartment complex that night. She kept texting her friend to see if she was okay but got no response. Once she heard reports of a baby crying inside, aware that Wawrzyniak owned a gun, she knew Beth was one of the deceased.

“She’ll always stay my best friend forever,” Hollfelder said.

Beth may have been 5-foot-3, 100 pounds and a quiet girl until people got to know her, but she made a big impression on the lives of many. She was known for her sense of humor and compassion.

“She was always your best friend,” Stephanie Day, 15, said of her sister.

Hollfeder said Beth loved the outdoors. They would go on walks with together to Secret Lake or throw the Frisbee around when they weren’t playing air hockey, making movies — everything from horror to dance videos — or playing her favorite video game, Perfect Dark.

“We would always laugh together,” she said. “She did whatever she could to make everyone happy.”

The two went trick-or-treating as late into their adolescence as they could, with Beth’s costumes ranging from ghosts to fairies. Stephanie plans to take Dominik trick-or-treating this year.

Beth graduated with Hollfelder from Canton High School in 2006 with high honors and an art award. Wawrzyniak graduated the year before, but it wasn’t until after high school that he and Beth connected through a mutual friend and began talking.

Beth’s family said she was a good mother. She and Wawrzyniak tried to work things out. Dominik just turned 1 in June and Beth was already buying him presents well before, Hollfelder said.

“She wanted to be with him [Wawrzyniak] for the baby,” Stephanie Day said. “She would do anything for Dominik.”

Beth’s relationship with a troubled, quiet Wawrzyniak was tense, but never violent, according to her family. While Beth’s family was uncomfortable with the gun he frequently carried with him, Beth “tolerated it,” Joan said.

“She was trying to save him,” Joan said.

Beth worked a lot at Ocean State Job Lot in Canton — where she was employed for six or seven years — to pay the bills and provide for their son. Wawrzyniak was an exterminator.

“She was such a hard worker,” Stephanie Day said of her sister.

Stephanie often babysat for Dominik. She took care of him during her day off from school on Rosh Hashanah last week while Beth worked.

“Beth raised me,” Stephanie said of her sister, who often watched her and picked her up from school when their parents were working. “When she died, I said, ‘It’s my turn to raise Dominik.’”

Dominik can’t walk yet, but his first word was “da da.” Lately, he’s been saying “ca” when he sees the Days’ cat. Beth got a grey cat named Cinder, which the couple fondly called “Miss Kitty,” two weeks before she had Dominik.

“They were going to grow up together,” Stephanie said.

Simsbury Animal Control retrieved the cat after the shooting and she will be placed in a new home. 

Beth loved animals and so do her parents, who have five dogs. Her family is requesting donations be made in her honor to the Connecticut Humane Society in lieu of flowers.

Beth handled “the visuals” at Ocean State Job Lot, often setting up displays — a passion for the artistic young adult. She was majoring in art at Central Connecticut State University until she left her junior year after giving birth to Dominik. She painted everything from her favorite flower — a type of orange lily — to women’s faces.

“Me and Beth shared a love of Marilyn Monroe,” Stephanie said. 

She remembered the price of almost every item in Ocean State and was known as someone who could recount past conversations word-for-word. Her mother described her memory as “photographic.”

Her skill at memorizing things made her a quick learner. Beth was good at every subject in high school, particularly Spanish. She played both the clarinet and field hockey in high school. 

“She was so brilliant,” said Stephanie, who added that her sister helped her learn the alphabet.

The last time Hollfelder saw Beth was two Saturdays ago on one of many walks along the Farmington River. Hollfelder was upset about something and Beth gave her a hug and comforted her.

“Every time I see you, you’re happy, so when you’re upset, I don’t know what to do,” Hollfelder said Beth told her before giving her a ride home.

When asked what the Days will tell Dominik when he asks about his parents some day, Joan Day said she’s thought about that a lot but hasn't come up with the answer.

“We didn’t get that far yet,” she said.

Beth Day is also survived by her brother, Jim, 26, her grandfather, Buddy Day of Canton and Tina and Sal Difabio of New Hartford, as well as her aunts and uncles – Debbie and Charlie Huntley, Cheryl Dzis, Lori and Phil Ouimette, Tracey Wedge, Carol and Steve Rose, Sandy Anasoulis, Bob and Michele Anasoulis – and 13 cousins, according to to her obituary on legacy.com.

The Days chose to have Beth buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Avon and they plan to be buried next to her when the day comes. Wawrzyniak will be buried in Calvary Cemetery in Collinsville.

For more information on their services, follow the link provided.

Pete Davis September 25, 2012 at 06:37 AM
"When asked what the Days will tell Dominik when he asks about his parents some day, Joan Day said she’s thought about that a lot but hasn't come up with the answer." What kind of spineless reporter asks that question? You should be ashamed of yourself. Anything to get ahead, I guess.

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