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Family of Slay Victim Proposes Safety Standards

DEERFIELD, Mass. -- The family of a pregnant woman slain last month while she worked alone at a Deerfield gas station is proposing legislation for minimal security standards at gas stations and convenience stores, as they wait for news on the progress of the investigation.

Brandy Waryasz, 21, of Turners Falls, was strangled on April 16 while working at a station near Historic Deerfield. The station's cash register was taken. There have been no arrests and the district attorney's office reports no news on the case.

According to an Associated Press report, the family wants the state to consider minimum safety standards at certain businesses to protect employees who often work alone.

''There was no protection in there whatsoever,'' said Waryasz's sister, Bethany, 19. ''She was seven months pregnant. There was no way for her to get out of there and be alive.''

Waryasz's relatives have pointed to a 1999 Florida law that requires certain safety measures at convenience stores and gas stations, including surveillance cameras. If a murder or assault has taken place at a store, owners are required to have two clerks working during overnight shifts.

There were no surveillance cameras at the station where Waryasz worked.

The AP reports that executives at Sandri Oil Inc., the Greenfield, Mass., company that owns the station, have said they will not place surveillance cameras there until police find the person who killed Waryasz. Their reasoning is that if the crime was committed by someone who knew Waryasz, it is not the same as if a stranger had robbed the station.

The Florida law, however, as written, would not have applied to the Waryasz case, because it applies to stores with overnight shifts. Waryasz's body was found in the early evening while it was still light outside, and the station was not open all night.

Sandri Oil officials have said the company is considering installing surveillance cameras in its 24-hour stations.

State Rep. Steven Kulik, D-Worthington, said seeking Florida-style legislation would be a tough sell in Massachusetts, and he is not sure it would protect anyone. But he said it is worth looking at.

Deerfield Police Chief Michael Wozniakewicz said that with or without such legislation, stores should adopt measures to ensure the safety of employees.

''Multiple clerks is a deterrent, and cameras are very helpful to the police,'' he said.

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