Colwyn Police Officer Stephen Rozniakowski Gets Life in Prison For Fatal Shooting

The ex-cop who snuffed out the life of Valerie Morrow will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Stephen “Roz” Rozniakowski, 35, of Norwood, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Wednesday after pleading guilty to murder in the first degree for Morrow’s shooting death Dec. 15, 2014.

Rozniakowski, a former Colwyn police officer, also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury for shooting Morrow’s 15-year-old daughter in the arm and one count of aggravated assault attempting serious bodily injury for firing on Morrow’s widower, Thomas Morrow Jr., for which he received a consecutive sentence of 10 to 20 years.

Thomas Morrow did not comment Wednesday, but said at a preliminary hearing in April 2015 that his late wife had an affair with Rozniakowski during a separation. The Morrows reconciled and the affair ended, but Rozniakowski continued to harass and stalk the victim.

District Attorney Jack Whelan said at a 2015 press conference that Rozniakowski had been served with a protection from abuse order obtained by Valerie Morrow just hours before the shooting.

Rozniakowski donned a bulletproof vest of unknown origin, then took a police-issued police radio and a non-police-issued handgun with him to the victim’s Glenfield Avenue home in Glenolden at about 9 p.m. that night.

Rozniakowski kicked in the front door and went upstairs, where he fatally shot Valerie Morrow and injured her daughter. Thomas Morrow, a part-time police officer with the Morton Police Department, was getting up for his overnight shift and heard the commotion in the hallway, according to Whelan. He retrieved a weapon from his nightstand and went into the hallway, where he fired at the assailant.

After emptying his magazine, Thomas Morrow recognized Rozniakowski but did not know if he had hit him. Believing his wife and stepdaughter to be dead, Morrow leapt from a second story window and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911. Rozniakowski meanwhile called in on the radio to indicate he was injured and unarmed in the house, identifying himself as the assailant, according to police.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino had been seeking the death penalty, but withdrew that motion Wednesday in favor of the plea deal worked out with defense counsel William Wismer and Mary Beth Welsh. Wana Saadzoi was serving as death penalty counsel.

Valerie Morrow’s mother, Charlotte Gulla, called Rozniakowski an “embarrassment to the force” Wednesday.

“He sits there and throws looks and smiles and this and that – how he breathes is beyond me,” she said. “I just want him to know in the future that nobody cares what will happen to him.”

Gulla described having to tell Valerie Morrow’s children that their mother was gone, as well as Rozniakowski’s harassing behavior, such as calling her daughter and driving by the house.

“I even went up to his car and told him to run me the hell over and leave my daughter alone, but he backed up like a little punk, like he’s doing now,” she said.

Wismer listed various public service positions his client has held in the county, but noted Rozniakowski had issues with alcohol and his relationships with women. Wismer said Rozniakowski recognized he had those issues and was seeking help in the form of a psychologist from April to December of 2014, attending at least 18 sessions over those eight months.

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