For 'Jamie' Lusher's family, closure won't come until boy's remains are found


WESTFIELD -- Lewis Lent Jr. may have confessed to killing 16-year-old James "Jamie" Lusher of Westfield, but Monday's announcement by law enforcement authorities hasn't yet provided his family with any closure.

"I mean, how can you?" said James' lone sibling, 38-year-old Jennifer Nowak, following Monday's news conference. "There's no closure unless you have the person.

"If he had gotten in a car accident, it would have been a lot easier because you have something," Nowak continued. "But we don't have anything. We've never had anything."

The boy's father, also named James Lusher, said closure for him will come if his son's body is found. According to law enforcement authorities, Lent told them that he placed the boy's remains in Greenwater Pond in Becket.

"My closure is finding my son's body," the father said. "I don't care what happened to Lewis Lent. He can rot in hell, I don't care."

Several members of Lusher's family attended Monday's news conference, which was held at Westfield Middle School South. Nowak was the only family member who spoke during the news conference. But she, her father, and her stepbrother, Matthew Placzek, spoke to the media after the conference was over.

The boy's mother, Joanne Lavakis, died two years ago, Nowak said.

During the news conference, Hampden County District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni said Lavakis told a newspaper reporter in 2000 that she had accepted her son was dead, but that all she wanted in life was the closure and peace she would find if his body was recovered.

"I'm sorry to say that she's not here to realize that," Mastroianni said. "But this announcement today achieves the wish that she told the media about finding Jamie and putting an end to this."

Nowak said her mother had become "really invested" in her son's disappearance, and always wanted to hear about any reports regarding her son.

"It was horrible," Nowak said. "It was probably one of the reasons she died so young."

James Lusher said he didn't completely believe that Lent was involved in his son's death, and wasn't sure until he spoke with Westfield Police Captain Michael McCabe, one of the lead investigators on the case.

"From what I understand, Lent was taken from prison and actually step-by-step told them what happened," Lusher said. "From what I understand, he also took a lie detector test."

Lusher still isn't completely sure that authorities have the right person.

"Right now, I 99.9 percent believe that he's responsible," James Lusher said. "But unless you have that physical evidence, there's a tiny little chance that the guy is lying."

The State Police underwater recovery team will begin a three-day search of Greenwater Pond for the boy's remains on Tuesday.

"I do intend on going up there," James Lusher said.


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