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Harford County native killed in Indiana; girlfriend's son charged with murder

Dennis Dziwulski was killed with a hammer
Posted: 5:34 PM, Jul 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-18 11:52:32-04

He was hit three times in the head with a hammer – the family of Harford County native is grieving after learning the man was killed in June.

Dennis Dziwulski’s brother, Doug, says it was a missed car payment that clued him to something being wrong.

It’s a case that led investigators to both Indiana and Kentucky.

The court documents tell the gruesome story. 48-year-old Dennis was at home, on his couch, when he was attacked.

“It kind of makes your stomach roll. When we finally found what was really going on, I had a stomachache for awhile and that comes and goes now. Even just thinking about it, thinking what had happened to him and the people who had made this conscious decision to do what they did,” Doug said, during a cellphone interview.

Switzerland County (Indiana) sheriff’s deputies detail what they suspect to be the moments before: an alleged domestic abuse 911 call involving Dennis, his girlfriend Vivian, and her son Justin Girdler – who was armed with a sledgehammer.

Detectives determined, at the time, none of the three should be arrested, giving them a chance to ‘cool’ off.

Dennis immediately called Doug, upset at what had happened.

The last time the two spoke.

The next morning, Kentucky State Police found a Chevy Trailblazer ditched along a dead end. Officers traced the plates to Dennis and the domestic case the day before.

Police couldn’t find him.

Neither could Doug.

“As of Friday, what was that? June 1st,” Doug asked rhetorically. “He had worked that day. I had spoken to his boss and his boss had said there was no indication that anything was going on. He said he just never showed up for work on Monday.”

Doug then tried Dennis’ landlord and his auto dealership after a missed payment.

None of them could locate the Harford County native.

So officers sniffed around his Indiana mobile home after Vivian told detectives Dennis moved back to Maryland.

They found blood in the living room and ultimately the body of a man in the woods behind his house with visible blows to the back of the skull.

It was enough to go back and question Vivian who, after twisting her words a few times, told detectives her son, Justin, was the one who used the hammer.

He confessed, saying his mother intimidated him. Court documents also claim Justin asked his girlfriend and her brother to ditch Dennis’ car in Kentucky – making it look like he was on his way back to Maryland.

A shock to a family who called Dennis the goofy, guitar guy with the big heart.

“He was a Orioles fan, a Ravens fan, a Maryland Terrapins fan. In fact, he had asked me if I can find him a ‘Fear the Turtle’ sweatshirt because I guess he had wanted one,” Doug said.

As of now, Girdler is the only one charged with murder.

Officially, Dennis is still considered a missing person until they match his DNA with his mother’s.

She says until authorities ID the remains, it’ll be weeks before they can actually have a funeral.