Sister forgives brother’s murderer

Sara Elizabeth Engel said she always had her doubts about whether George Lazorisak killed her brother, Charles "Doug" Weeks.

By: Linda Seida
   Charles "Doug" Weeks was murdered in a loft above a Lambertville floral shop 20 years ago this week.
   His sister, Sara Elizabeth "Betsy" Engel, said she is willing — even obligated — to forgive his killer.
   "I made a choice in my life," Ms. Engel said. "I chose Jesus Christ. If he forgives you, you should forgive others or God won’t forgive you."
   In a December letter to The Beacon from his prison cell, George Lazorisak finally confessed to the murder after insisting he was innocent for almost two decades. He apologized to both the city and Mr. Weeks’ family, saying "God’s grace" gave him the courage to take responsibility for his actions.
   "I’m just glad he’s come to terms with himself and with God," Ms. Engel said. "I’m a believer, too. I don’t want to be his friend or anything. I hope that things go well for him."
   The rest of Mr. Weeks’ family is not as forgiving.
   "I have two daughters who don’t feel that way," Ms. Engel said. "You better believe it."
   Ms. Engel and her children now live in Georgia. Her daughters and son have not gotten over their beloved uncle’s violent death Jan. 16, 1986, at age 47.
   Ms. Engel’s daughters, now 47 and 49, "don’t want to talk about it," she said. She did not say how her son, 46, feels.
   "He treated them beautifully," Ms. Engel said of her brother. "He bought them anything they wanted."
   Authorities said Mr. Lazorisak robbed and shot Mr. Weeks in a loft above the Bridge Street flower shop where Mr. Weeks worked. They said he lured Mr. Weeks from a New Hope gay bar to Lambertville with the intent of stealing his car. Convicted in 1987, Mr. Lazorisak is serving 30 years to life in New Jersey State Prison. He will be eligible for parole in 11 years.
   When Mr. Weeks’ mother, Helen Weeks, died at the age of 72, she "died brokenhearted," Ms. Engel said. "She just never got over it."
   Ms. Engel "packed her up and brought her home with me" after her brother’s death. A diabetic, Mrs. Weeks relied on her daughter to take her to numerous medical appointments.
   Mr. Lazorisak’s confession has brought a certain amount of closure.
   "Now if I talk about it, I don’t feel real, real bad," Ms. Engel said. "I know it’s really over."
   Doubts had always remained for Mr. Weeks’ sister.
   During and after his trial, Mr. Lazorisak claimed he had been framed by his father and three other men. He said they became witnesses for the state and implicated him in the crime because they faced unrelated charges for drugs, burglary and weapons offenses.
   After his conviction, he appealed to an organization whose mission is to overturn wrongful convictions. It did not take on the case.
   "I’m glad to see that he wrote that letter," Ms. Engel said. "I always had my doubts. I always did think he did it, then I flip-flopped."