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Couple's Double Drowning Gets Fresh Look After 35 Years

The case of a police officer and his beautician wife who drowned after leaving a dinner party 35 years ago is getting a fresh look and a $15,000 reward.

The 1981 deaths of William and Michelle Becker were deemed an accident, but relatives and colleagues say they have nagging questions.

Now, officers at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where William Becker, 43, worked as a police officer, have put up reward cash in the hopes of getting some answers.

"We don't know what happened after they left the dinner party," said DEC Police Maj. Scott Florence, who began looking into the mystery in the 1990s. "Some things at the scene raised a lot of questions."

Image: Michelle and William Becker
An undated photo of Michelle and William Becker, who drowned in 1981. Courtesy Michael Malkush

The Beckers, married for 17 years and parents to three children, spent the evening of March 10, 1981, at a friend's house in Mattituck, Long Island, leaving shortly before midnight.

William Becker's body was found in a marina the next morning and the body of Michelle, 36, who owned a local beauty parlor, was discovered the next day.

The Suffolk County Police Department said there was no evidence of foul play and the case was officially closed in 1983.

Michelle Becker's brother, Michael Malkush, said investigators told him their theory was that the couple went to the marina to find the boat that belonged to the dinner party host and "get romantic."

"It made no sense," Malkush said, noting that it was dark and cold, the boat was under repair, his brother-in-law had a fear of water, and the couple's warm home was just a half-mile away.

"We just feel that they didn't go down there on their own and accidentally fall in the water and both drown. We're just trying to find out the missing pieces."

Florence noted that a kitchen table on the boat had come apart, and Becker's clip-on uniform tie was found on the floor, potential signs of a struggle.

"It leads you to believe the tie was pulled off and the table was broken," he said.

He said the 35th anniversary of the drownings was seen as an opportunity to bring attention to the case and perhaps dislodge some long-held secrets.

The police union and a fraternal organizations came up with the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who might have been involved in the Beckers' deaths.

In a statement, the Suffolk County Police Department said Homicide Squad detectives are "open to receiving any new information anyone had to provide."

"I know we can't bring them back," Malkush said. "But there's got to be someone out there who has some answers. It just takes one person."