Switzerland County was rocked early last week when human remains were found in a wooded area on Beatty Ridge near Florence, and as the investigation continues, Switzerland County law enforcement officials have made one arrest with others possibly coming in the future.
The investigation began on Monday evening, Jun 25th, when Switzerland County deputies Joe Spilman and Adam Archer, following evidence found in a trailer home on Beatty Ridge, discovered human remains in the woods near the home.
The deputies were at the home as part of an ongoing missing person investigation.
Things then began to heat up in the investigation when on Tuesday, July 3rd, law enforcement officials made an arrest in downtown Madison.
Switzerland County Prosecutor Monica Hensley and the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department said that law enforcement officers arrested Justin Girdler, 25, of Jefferson County, formerly of Carrollton, Kentucky, at approximately 6 p.m. that evening.
Girdler was returned to Switzerland County, and was lodged in the Switzerland County jail.
Hensley said that Girdler is being held on one count of murder; and also on 3 counts of felony obstruction of justice. At the time of the arrest, Hensley said other arrests could be forthcoming as the investigation continues.
On Thursday morning, July 5th, Girdler had his initial hearing in Switzerland County Circuit Court in front of Judge Gregory Coy; and the defendant was then returned to the Switzerland County jail where he was being held without bail.
Also on Thursday, details of the case were released through the Probable Cause Affidavit.
A Probable Cause Affidavit is a legal document that law enforcement officers complete in order to obtain an arrest warrant on an individual or individuals. In this probable cause affidavit, officers lay out their evidence as to what crimes have been committed and who they feel may be responsible for those crimes. The affidavit and the information that it contains is then considered by the Prosecuting Attorney, and if the prosecutor feels that there is enough evidence, a warrant for the arrest of the person or persons is issued.
Once that person is arrested and taken to court, the probable cause affidavit becomes a matter of public record, and can be obtained and distributed. This is not proof of guilt — all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law — but it does spell out the evidence that has been gathered as well as information gathered during interviews with suspects, witnesses, and people of interest.
In that Probable Cause Affidavit, the victim in this murder case was tentatively identified as Dennis A. Dziwulski. He was living at the residence on Beatty Ridge and was from Maryland. Law enforcement officials said that it may take four to five weeks for the body that was found to be positively identified, but all signs point to the remains being Dziwulski. According to the affidavit, Dziwulski was living at the residence with Vivian M. Moore, who was identified as the mother of Justin Girdler.
Here are some excerpts from the Probable Cause Affidavit, as filed in Switzerland Circuit Court by Detective Chris Curry of the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department (‘Affiant’ in the document). The Probable Cause Affidavit in its entirety can be read online at www.vevaynewspapers.com. All persons included in the Probable Cause Affidavit are considered innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty in a court of law:
On the afternoon of 06/02/2018, Switzerland Co. Deputies Joe Spilman and Adam Archer responded to a 911 call made from the person identified as Justin C. Girdler (DOB: 04/23/1993) reporting a domestic abuse incident at his mother’s home located at Girdler advised the answering dispatcher that he was armed with a sledgehammer for protection from Dziwulski if needed. Once on scene, deputies located Girdler who was found in possession of a hammer and Girdler was ordered to lay the hammer aside while the investigation took place. Deputies identified the following parties present along with Girdler … his mother Vivian M. Moore, and Dennis A. Dzivulski…..After investigation, deputies found no cause for arrest but ordered Girdler to vacate the residence at Dziwulski’s request to prevent additional incident. Moore decided to leave the home with Girdler at that time on her own freewill with Deputy Spilman remaining on scene for a few minutes after they departed to ensure they did not immediately return. According to Deputy Spilman and Deputy Archer, Girdler seemed to be the agitator/aggressor while the investigation took place and verbally expressed his discontent to them that Dziwulski was not arrested.
….On the morning of 06/03/2018, Kentucky State Police contacted SCSO to advise the discovery of an abandoned vehicle registered to Dennis A. Dziwulski along a dead end road in Carroll County, KY. KSP inquired if there were any known concerns involving the vehicle and KSP was informed of Dziwulski’s involvement in a domestic disturbance the day prior. Dziwulski’s vehicle was towed and stored at the towing business location in Carrollton, KY after no contact was made with Dzhvulski to retrieve· the vehicle on his own.
On 06/22/2018, Doug Dziwulski (Dennis’ brother) of spoke to your affiant regarding his concern for Dennis’ welfare. According to Doug, he had not spoken to or heard from Dennis since the evening of 06/02/2018 when they spoke on the phone. According to Doug, Dennis informed him of police response to his home earlier that same day and was told that Dennis’ relationship with his girlfriend may be ending. Doug advised he tried to phone Dennis in the following days until an automated message indicated Dennis’ phone was no longer in service. After not hearing from Dennis for several days and growing concerned, Doug advised he then phoned and spoke to Dennis’ girlfriend Vivian to see if she could offer any information about Dennis. Doug advised Vivian told him that Dennis had moved back to Maryland after they split up on 06/02/2018….
….After speaking to Doug, your affiant spoke to Dennis’ employer, his landlord, and an auto dealership attempting to collect payments for a vehicle Dennis had purchased. All parties advised your affiant they had not spoken to or heard from Dennis in several weeks and all had been told by his girlfriend Vivian that Dennis moved back to Maryland. The landlord additionally advised that Vivian had moved from the home during the week immediately following 06/02/2018.
Also on 06/22/2018, your affiant spoke to Vivian by phone who advised that Dennis moved back Maryland after end’ing their relationship. Vivian acknowledged police response to her home on 06/02/2018 and advised their relationship ended that same evening. Vivian explained that her son Justin drove her back to the home later that same evening and dropped her off. Vivian advised she noticed that Dennis had packed all of his clothes into his vehicle prior to her arrival. According to Vivian, she and Dennis began arguing again which led to a physical confrontation. Vivian explained that she was able to get away from Dennis at which point Dennis threw and broke his cellphone and walked out the front door while saying he was moving to Maryland. Vivian advised the last time she saw Dennis was as he pulled out of the driveway that night….
On 06/25/2018, your affiant received permission from the landlord to inspect the now vacant mobile home of Dennis A. Dziwulski and Vivian M. Moore. During that inspection, evidence of a significant blood-related event was found in the living room area of the home. During a subsequent search of the surrounding wooded area, unidentified human remains were discovered approximately 50 yards or so from the home. It appeared that the skull associated with those remains contained fractured defect(s) to the back portion.
During interviews conducted in the following days with Vivian Moore, Moore initially claimed that she killed Dziwulski after striking him in the head numerous times with a cast iron skillet and that Girdler was a witness to the killing. Moore explained that she grew tired of Dziwulski’s physical and mental abuse so she took the opportunity to kill him as he slept on the couch. Moore’s statement eventually changed in later interviews when she then claimed that Girdler struck Dziwulski in the head with a hammer two times as she and Dziwulski were engaged in a verbal argument. Moore indicated that Dziwulski was laying awake on the couch at the time and felt that Girdler’s actions were unprovoked. According to Moore, Dziwulski was not acting in a physically threatening manner at the time and there was no legitimate reason for Girdler to attack Dziwulski in that manner. Moore advised that she originally claimed responsibility for Dziwulski’s killing in an attempt to protect her son.
During interviews conducted with Girdler in the following days, Girdler initially claimed that he arrived at the home on the night in question to find Moore had already killed Dziwulski prior to his arrival. Girdler’s account then ·changed indicating he witnessed Moore kill Dziwulski with a cast iron skillet as he lay on the couch. During his most recent interview, Girdler indicated that he did strike Dziwulski three (3) times in the head with a hammer resulting in his death after Moore had already struck Dziwulski in the head with a cast iron skillet. Girdler claimed that he felt forced to do so after being intimidated by his mother. Girdler indicated that Dziwulski was on the couch at the time he was struck with the hammer.
Moore’s and Girdler’s contradictory statements were both consistent, however, in the detail that Girdler participated in moving Dziwulski’s dead body from the living room and hiding it underneath the mobile home following Dzhvulski’s killing on 06/02/2018 . Both Moore and Girdler also told your affiant that Girdler returned the following evening on 06/03/2018 and participated in retrieving Dziwulski’s body from under the home and then moving it into the woods nearby. Both Moore’s and Girdler’s statements were consistent as well in the details that police were never notified of Dennis A. Dziwulski’s killing and that additional actions were taken to destroy blood evidence in the home in an attempt to prevent discovery.
Moore additionally indicated that, after Dziwulski was killed and his body placed underneath the home, Girdler, his girlfriend Victoria Hall, and Hall’s brother Michael Hall drove Dziwulski’s vehicle from the scene and abandoned it in Kentucky to make it appear that Dziwulski had left the home. Moore advised she remained at the Beatty Ridge home while this occurred. During interviews with Girdler, he denied any knowledge or involvement with moving Dziwulski’s vehicle from the scene.
Your affiant was able to recover video evidence from security cameras installed at Circle K near Markland Dam. Your affiant believes store cameras captured and recorded the act ofDzhvulski’s vehicle being driven and abandoned in Kentucky after his killing. Video evidence consisted of two vehicles arriving together at Circle Kon 06/03/2018 at approximately 1:15 AM according to video date/time stamp. Those vehicles were identified as Dennis Dziwulski’s 2008 Chevy Trailblazer and a Chevy Impala known associated with Girdler and Victoria Hall. A male thought to be Girdler was captured by cameras as he exited Dzhvulski’s vehicle and approached the driver door of the Impala to speak to the occupant(s). Victoria Hall was then captured and positively identified on camera as she exited the driver door of the Impala and entered the store. Upon leaving the store, both vehicles are seen leaving in the direction of Markland Dam….
As of press time, Girdler is the only person of interest in the case who has been arrested and charged. Anyone who may know anything about this case is urged to contact the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department at (812) 427-3636.