Breaking News, Top Stories » Man burned to death in car parked outside of same New Orleans hospital his daughter died at 2 years ago By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune November 04, 2009, 6:30PM

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Man burned to death in car parked outside of same New Orleans hospital his daughter died at 2 years ago
By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Times-Picayune
November 04, 2009, 6:30PM

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Authorities are almost certain that a dead body found inside a burning car parked near a downtown hospital Oct. 29 was that of a 55-year-old man whose daughter died at the same hospital more than two years ago. Michal Flisiuk, 55, believed to be the man found inside a burning car outside of Interim LSU Public Hospital.Officials believe the death was either accidental or a suicide, though the man's wife and another daughter distrust their findings.

Coroner's investigators believe it was Michal Flisiuk that died inside a red Chevrolet Cavalier parked near the corner of South Johnson and Perdido streets shortly before 3:20 a.m. on a Thursday.

Interim LSU Public Hospital police officers found Flisiuk's car on fire and dialed 911. New Orleans firefighters doused the blaze - which was fueled with the help of an accelerant, according to authorities - and discovered a charred corpse behind the steering wheel, chief coroner's investigator John Gagliano said.

An autopsy later revealed that the man died as a result of inhaling a toxic amount of smoke, coroner Dr. Frank Minyard said.

He wasn't shot, stabbed or beaten unconscious, so investigators declined to classify his death a homicide. The only two possibilities left are that the man killed himself or died in an accidental fire, investigators say.

Coroner's officials haven't yet been able to confirm Flisiuk's identity because his family told them he had no dental records. Investigators will need to conduct a DNA test, and, with an external laboratory handling the process, results aren't expected for several weeks, Gagliano said.

But the body's physical attributes and details about the car led investigators to believe the dead man is Flisiuk, Gagliano said. His wife, Teresa, told authorities that it was her husband after he hadn't been in touch since hours before the car fire.

Still grieving daughter

Flisiuk, a Polish-born father of four, drove to New Orleans during the last week of October to deliver paintings created by his artist son, 34-year-old Marcel, to a gallery, according to his wife. He had come to town repeatedly to visit the Interim LSU Public Hospital since the death there of his daughter, Blanka Teresa Flisiuk Peridot. Peridot, a poet once based in Bywater, gave birth to a still-born boy in June 2007, according to medical information supplied on a Web site created by her family. The 31-year-old died one day later, "and we have never recovered," Teresa Flisiuk said in an interview.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicCourtesy of the Flisiuk familyBlanka Peridot, Flisiuk's daughter, who died at Interim LSU Public Hospital in June 2007. Her parents then created a series of Web sites alleging that gross neglect and wrongdoing by several hospital staff members "murdered" their daughter. Hospital officials declined to comment on Peridot's death.

In late October, Michal Flisiuk called The Times-Picayune from Maine, asking the newspaper to help him investigate his daughter's death.

Speaking to Assistant City Editor Coleman Warner, Flisiuk echoed sentiments expressed on his Web sites and said he sought a sense of justice in the matter.

Complaints with medical authorities had gone nowhere, he said. Disagreements with an attorney he considered hiring stopped him from taking legal action. The family filed a complaint with the state attorney general, but Flisiuk said he was unable to find out the status of the matter.

Flisiuk said he hoped to meet Warner during his stay in New Orleans the last week of October. At midweek, Flisiuk called Warner in New Orleans, but the editor declined to immediately arrange a meeting.

Though he didn't rule out the possibility that the newspaper would consider writing about the case, Warner said the newspaper needed to see evidence of action or response to the family's complaints by other agencies.

Flisiuk was angered by the editor's response. At 1:02 a.m. Oct. 29, about two hours before he is believed to have been found burning in the car, he sent an e-mail message to Warner, criticizing him.

"I cannot believe you were not outraged at any moment of our conversations," the message said, accusing the editor of having a "clogged heart." The message also quoted a medical chart allegedly prepared during his daughter's stay at the hospital: "Patients screams for no reason."

About four hours before sending his e-mail to Warner, Flisiuk sent one last e-mail to his wife.

"Most of all I beg your forgiveness for everything bad," opened the message, provided to The Times-Picayune by his wife. It later stated, "Coleman Warner refused to see me, as it is 'no story' for him ... Nothing of us is in this place."

Flisiuk and his family emigrated from Poland to New England in 1981 and moved to Mid-City in New Orleans five years later.

He worked at the city's mosquito control office. Teresa wrote poetry, which appeared in a Polish-American newspaper published in New York. Their kids, Marcel and Blanka, sold drawings and booklets of poetry they created in Jackson Square, when they weren't in class at St. Alphonsus School in the Irish Channel. Their sister Carmen, now 28, dreamed of playing the violin, according to a 1987 Times-Picayune profile of the family.

As the years passed, Marcel found success with local collectors. Local art galleries showed and sold his work. Blanka created poetry in the Bywater. She had a daughter, Sabbath, now 11, and graduated from the University of Maine with a degree in forestry.

Michael and Teresa Flisiuk also have two other children: Francis, now 17, and Zelda, now 15.

"We were all artistic," Teresa Flisiuk said. "We were not conventional."

Peridot's death dealt a devastating blow to the family. They all eventually moved to Maine. There, Michal Flisiuk, a photographer and painter, shifted his focus to sending his youngest children to college and on keeping the family together.

"He was the strongest human being I knew," Flisiuk's daughter Carmen said. "He kept us afloat."

That is why Carmen and her mother don't think Flisiuk committed suicide or even died accidentally. They said they believe the Web sites he helped create made him a mortal enemy of certain people, and they distrust the findings of authorities probing his death.

But some facts suggest the possibility of an accident.

On Oct. 21, while Flisiuk was still in Maine, a state trooper ticketed him for burning items he wasn't permitted to burn along Route 3 in the community of China, according to a report in a state police blotter.

Teresa Flisiuk said they were items from the family's basement and attic.

He also smoked cigarettes sporadically, his wife and daughter said.

Gagliano said that one possible scenario investigators are probing is one in which he fell asleep in the car while holding a cigarette, which may have ignited an accelerant he stored in the car.

Either way, Flisiuk's family is left coming to grips with a confusing tragedy. They also must wait for the DNA test results before they can recover their patriarch's body and bury him.

Teresa Flisiuk said, "It is a horror."

Ramon Antonio Vargas can be reached at rvargas@timespicayune.com or at 504.826.3371.

www.http://michalflisiuk.com
www.http://teresaflisiuk.info
www.http://marcelflisiuk.com
www.http://blankaperidot.com

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By Blanka

Mother, If You Could See Me Now
Mother,
If You could see me now
Could You figure out how
My smile, my shape, my gait, my brow
Have all gone down
Did they drown?
Am I unhappy?
Or was I once
Experiencing an ounce
Of what they call
Gladness, joy, happiness, escape
These feelings I cannot drape
Over my shoulders
Like a gilded cape
Am I the image that life raped?
Am I the one left all alone?
Heart torn up, mouth agape
And if they get me
(Already did)
Can I escape
Can I get rid
Of them around me
The [...] inside me
Mother,
If you have to
Will you hide me?
Should you, though
I know I can’t
She shall walk in her own damned cant
Should I treasure, hide and gleam
Or teach and push and squeal and steam
Am I the mother or the daughter?
What lessons learned from
One or other?
Can I be one and not another?

Who Killed Blanka Peridot -Q&A