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Two men charged in death of Narrowsburg woman

By Fritz Mayer
September 28, 2012

Two men have been charged in the death of a woman whose body was found in a burned out home in Lava after a fire destroyed the house on December 13, 2008.

The body was that of then 41-year-old Catherine Novak and the fire was labeled suspicious almost from the first day of the investigation.

Now, nearly four years later, police say the arrests are the result of an investigation, which was begun on the day of the fire.

According to New York State Police, on September 27, officers in Liberty arrested Scott Sherwood, age 40, of Lindenhurst, NY for one count of murder in the second degree. He was arraigned before Sullivan County Court Judge Michael McGuire and remanded to the Sullivan County Jail without bail to reappear in Sullivan County Court on October 2.

Also on September 27, Paul Novak, age 45, of Palm Coast, FL was arrested by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office as a fugitive from justice from New York on two counts of murder in the second degree and one count of arson.

The arrest was made in Flagler County by the New York State Police and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Novak appeared before Flagler County Circuit Judge Atack, where he was remanded to the Flagler County Inmate Facility without bail.

Catherine was in the process of getting a divorce from Paul when the fire erupted four years ago.

According to then-Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen at the time of the fire, investigators had trouble determining the cause because of the severity of the destruction.

Reports indicated that one cause for suspicion was that the fire spread more quickly than most. Lungen would not confirm that, but he said that “the investigation of the fire and the medical examination have raised more questions than they’ve answered.”

Catherine, who had two children under the age of 10, sent the children the day before the fire to stay with their father who then lived in Glen Cove, LI. The family dog, which was initially thought to be missing, was ultimately found in the wreckage.

Catherine was a well-known member of the community,served on the Sullivan West school board from 2005 to 2007 and participating actively in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Narrowsburg. Pastor Phyllis Haynes said Novak served on the church council, was in charge of church coffee hours and had taught Sunday School.