Calvert Sheriff Police Beat / Police find body of wife of West Virginia School Superintendent Mike Martirano in water at Solomon’s Island

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Police find body of wife of West Virginia School Superintendent Mike Martirano in water at Solomon’s Island

By Ken Rossignol



SOLOMON’S ISLAND, MD. – “My beautiful wife Silvana P. Martirano. 8/18/61 – 5/30/16. I loved her so much. Please pray for my family.”

With those words tweeted out to the world on Tuesday, West Virginia State School Superintendent Mike Martirano announced to the world that his wife was dead.

According to Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans, Calvert Deputies found her in the water close to the shore near the Calvert Marine Museum at Solomon’s Island.

“My beautiful wife Silvana P. Martirano. 8/18/61 – 5/30/16. I loved her so much. Please pray for my family.”

Dr. Martirano came to St. Mary’s County in 2002 as the new school superintendent and left in 2014 to become West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools. His tenure in St. Mary’s included being lauded for turning around the troubled school system to being the best in the State of Maryland.

Upon taking the top level post in West Virginia, the stress began to take its toll on Silvana. She became extremely depressed and often spent time at a condo in Solomon’s which the family bought as a second home to their residence in West Virginia. 

While her death has all the markings of suicide, which was confirmed late in the afternoon on June 1, 2016, Calvert Sheriff  Mike Evans stated their investigation has not concluded.

“We don’t rule anything out until the Medical Examiner completes their report,” said Sheriff Evans. The autopsy was conducted on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Baltimore at the Office of the State Medical Examiner. The State Medical Examiner’s Office spokesman revealed that the cause of death of drowning and the manner of death is suicide.

Many deaths which are first thought to be suicide later turn out to be a homicide, thus investigators are not quick to close the file on any investigation involving sudden death. The case of Timothy Harper at McKays Beach in 1994 was labeled a suicide and was solved by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Capt. Daniel Alioto in 2005 as a result of taking a second look at a ‘cold case’. 

John David Omeara was convicted of second-degree murder of Nancy Lynn Manni, who's body was found floating in the water at Solomon's Island in 1993.
John David Omeara was convicted of second-degree murder of Nancy Lynn Manni, who’s body was found floating in the water at Solomon’s Island in 1993.

The local criminal class of heathens in the region could be responsible for her death as Nancy Lynn Manni was found floating in the Patuxent in 1993 after being murdered by a Calvert County man, John David O’Meara – who is now out of prison after serving only ten years in prison for second-degree murder.  O’Meara pleaded an Alford Plea in Calvert County Circuit Court on Sept. 12, 1997, in a deal approved by States Attorney and now Judge Robert Riddle.

O’Meara had run over Manni several times with his boat propeller after taking her for a boat ride. Manni had met O’Meara at the Tiki Bar and consented to go out on the water in a small outboard boat which belonged to O’Meara’s father. After four years and the murder investigation being stalled by a rookie investigator of Natural Resources Police, the Maryland State Police took the case over and put a squad of top investigators to work to solve the grisly crime. 

The Martiranos’ had a difficult time selling their house near Leonardtown, due to the depressed real estate market that has continued since the financial meltdown and housing bubble burst of 2008. After selling the St. Mary’s County residence, the couple bought the Calvert condo at Solomon’s, where Silvana had been spending a lot of time with her daughter prior her recent marriage.

 In addition to pulling up roots and leaving what had become their home for ten years, the couple’s children had grown and left the nest, with graduation from college and marriage.

Dr. Michael Martirano
Dr. Michael Martirano defending his school budget from unprecedented attacks by the bully of the commissioner board — St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan, known for not really knowing too much. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Mike Martirano was well known throughout Maryland and is not only well-liked but in many circles, is held in high esteem.  Dr. Martirano had transcended the usual bureaucratic and boring persona of many education administrators and projected the personality of a big-hearted teacher which permeated all aspects of the school system. As a result, teachers taught with new resolve knowing that they had the support of the boss, parents loved to see their kids excelling, and others took note of the tremendous achievements in graduation results.

The family had become more entrenched in Southern Maryland than perhaps anywhere during his career as an educator.

The past two years had seen more tragedy for Silvana when her father, Donato F. Petruccelli, died just under a year ago in Silver Spring, Md., after an illness.

Services Announced

Silvana Petrucelli Martirano, 54 of Dowell, Maryland passed away May 30, 2016. She was born August 18, 1961, in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Maria D’Avella Petruccelli of Wheaton, Maryland, and the late Donato Petruccelli.

Silvana Martirano
Silvana Martirano

Silvana graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. On February 25, 1984, she married her beloved husband, Dr. Michael J. Martirano in Silver Spring, Maryland. Together they celebrated over 32 wonderful years of marriage. She was an extraordinary mother devoting her time and attention to the love and care of her three children. She worked for eleven years as an accountant in the mortgage banking industry where she achieved the promotional rank of Assistant Controller with Ryland Homes Mortgage.

She enjoyed cooking, reading and entertaining family and friends. Her specialty was delicious Italian dishes which reflected her heritage, which she was proud to share with her family and friends. She planned a memorable family vacation to Italy which she was so happy to share in with her husband and children.

She dedicated her life to caring for and loving her family and friends. She was a loving wife and supported her husband in his career as Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools and later as Superintendent of Schools for the state of West Virginia. She was a strong example for her children giving them a solid religious formation. She exuded compassion for others, kindness to all and a complete devotion to Christ. In addition to being a devoted wife and mother, she was also a loving daughter, sister, daughter–in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, and devoted friend to many.

She was the perfect host and planned many special gatherings, planning every detail making sure all felt welcomed and special including family dinners, spiritual groups, and parties for friends. She was an inspiration to many.

She was a member of St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church in Hollywood, Maryland, and St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Leonardtown, Maryland. She volunteered many hours helping others at the St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen, Hospice House of St. Mary’s, teaching Catholic Christian Doctorate (CCD) classes at St. Aloysius Catholic Church and helping in the classrooms at St. John’s Catholic School.

In addition to her loving mother and beloved husband she is also survived by her wonderful children, Maria Ann Martirano (Edwin Fernandes) of Lexington Park, Maryland, Vincent Michael Martirano (Crystal Berry: fiancée) of Glen Burnie, Maryland and Gina Marie Martirano (Ben Wilson: boyfriend) of Dowell, Maryland; her siblings, Joseph Petruccelli (Ann) of Rockville, Maryland, Anna Schweitzer of Germantown, Maryland, Linda Mihovich (Peter) of Damascus, Maryland, Lisa Pierce (Orpheus) of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Rita Johnson (Kyle) of Germantown, Maryland; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and extended family and friends. She is preceded in death by her father.

The Family will receive friends for Silvana’s Life Celebration on Friday, June 3, 2016, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., with prayers recited at 7:30 p.m., at Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., 22955 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Reverend Raymond Schmidt on June 4, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church, 43950 St. Johns Road, Hollywood, Maryland 20636. A private Graveside Service will be held in Frostburg, Maryland on June 6, 2016.

Serving as pallbearers will be Vincent Martirano, Edwin Fernandes, Brock Arnone, Bryon Arnone, Brett Arnone, and Joe Petruccelli. Condolences may be mailed to Dr. Michael J. Martirano and Family, P.O. Box 637, Solomons, Maryland 20688. Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, Maryland

From LinkedIn, the biography of Dr. Martirano:

Dr. Mike Martirano in his favorite lunch place in Lexington Park, Md., Linda's Cafe. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo
Dr. Mike Martirano in his favorite lunch place in Lexington Park, Md., Linda’s Cafe. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Dr. Michael Martirano began serving as West Virginia’s 30th state superintendent of schools in September 2014. Martirano has been an educator for 30 years and has amassed a wide range of educational and administrative experience through his work as a science teacher, principal and visiting professor at John Hopkins University. Most recently, he served as superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools in Leonardtown, Maryland where during his tenure the 4-year graduation rate increased from the low 80’s to an all-time high of 93.5%. Dr. Martirano is a teacher first and foremost who just happens to be the state superintendent of schools.

As a risk-taker and innovator, he consistently focuses his energy on improving academic success and building positive relationships. He was selected the 2009 Superintendent of the Year in Maryland and a 2010 Innovator of the Year by the Maryland Daily Record. Recently, he was named as a “Chief Making A Difference” for the 2nd and 3rd Annual Smart List Awards for the 40 people shaping the Future of K-12 Education in America

Martirano holds a Doctorate of Education degree in school management and instructional leadership from Nova Southeastern University, two Masters of Education degrees and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland.

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