Wayne Sapiane in an undated photo he posted on his Facebook page.

The family of the man who died following an assault in the downtown Riverhead area Thursday afternoon is searching for answers.

“I’m not going to rest until we have justice for Wayne,” said Gary Sapiane of North Haven, who said his brother Wayne, 65, was beaten by an unknown assailant on Thursday and died on Sunday night at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.

Gary Sapiane, a well-known radio personality at WLNG radio in Sag Harbor, said his brother suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage as a result of the attack, which he said took place midday “in broad daylight” on Thursday. He was transferred by helicopter from Peconic Bay Medical Center to Southside Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. He was kept alive on a ventilator until doctors told his family he would not recover, his brother said.

Wayne Sapiane was a father of two and a musician. His brother said he had issues with alcohol for most of his adult life. Relations with his family were strained as a result, his brother said. Suffolk County Police said he was undomiciled but living in Riverside at the time of the assault.

“But he didn’t deserve this,” Gary Sapiane said. “We want to know what happened and we want to see the responsible person brought to justice.”

Suffolk homicide detectives are investigating Wayne Sapiane’s death, Suffolk police said in a press release yesterday evening.

“Wayne Sapiane reported to police that he was struck on the head by an unknown white male in the area of West Main Street in Riverhead on January 2,” the police press release stated. “Southampton Town and Riverhead Town police both responded to the incident.” Police said an autopsy would be done by the county medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

Gary Sapiane said he’d heard his brother was beaten in Riverside, in or near a bus stop near the McDonald’s. But Suffolk police put the incident location “in the area of West Main Street.”

A police department spokesperson said police would not provide more specific information about the incident location, but confirmed that he was injured in Riverhead. He made his way to Riverside after the injury, the spokesperson said.

Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation by the county homicide squad.

Gary Sapiane said lack of information about his brother’s injury — how it happened, if someone struck him with an object, even where it happened — is very disturbing.

The family awaits a report from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner, which they hope will provide more clues to his brother’s fate.

“We’re looking for answers and I’m not going to rest until we have them,” he said.

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.