Tag Archives: Fear Thy Neighbor

#CrimeTime ~ Fear Thy Neighbor ~ “Daddy’s Got a Gun”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

I love watching true crime shows…as long as they are about murder…, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 Each week, I blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts.

One of my short stories, Blood and Breakfast, is about a crime junkie who gets a little closer to murder than she anticipated. You can buy the Kindle version here for only $2.00 Blood and Breakfast – It’s also part of a print book with 6 other scary stories: A Collection of Friday the 13th Stories

Fear Thy Neighbor,  Season 3, Episode 7, Daddy’s Got a Gun

Seaside New Jersey, April 2002

The idyllic neighborhood in Seaside Heights was a place where neighbors treated one another like family and gathered regularly for barbecues and other events. One neighbor, police officer Ed Lutes, was a single father raising his daughter, Sarah. The others living on the block felt safe having a police officer in their midst. Little did they know their safety would soon be shattered.

Dominick and Gail Galliano watched Sarah during the week before school, since her father had to report to work early in the morning. It was a perfect arrangement. The Gallianos adored having Sarah there and Ed trusted them implicitly.

When Ed started dating Cindy Mansuy and moved her and her three children into the home, it was a huge adjustment for the children, especially Sarah, who was used to having her daddy all to herself. One day, Sarah’s stepsister found her crying. When she asked what was wrong, Sarah admitted that their neighbor, Dominick Galliano, had exposed himself to her. The stepsister insisted that she tell her dad. When she did, Ed went nuts. He stormed across the street and threatened Dominick and told him to stay away from his daughter. Sexual assault charges were filed against Dominick. The neighbors initially all sided with Ed. But neighbors Gary and Tina Williams noticed that Sarah seemed totally unaffected. And, they knew Dom and couldn’t see him doing something like that. Cindy, Ed’s girlfriend, confessed to the Williams that she didn’t believe Dom was guilty. She thought Sarah had made the accusation to get her dad’s attention after the changes in the household. The Williams went to Dom and apologized and said they believed him. They also testified as character witnesses. Ed was furious, claiming that they were ‘all against him’. At the trial, Dominick was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Ed asked Cindy to marry him, and she agreed, now taking his side, although it was believed she secretly still felt Sarah had lied. One day, when Cindy was picking up her wedding dress, she was involved in a car accident and killed instantly. This seemed to push Ed over the edge. He drank and gambled and became more threatening and violent. The neighborhood became tension-filled. The Williams and Gallianos were the victims of various acts of vandalism. They were certain Ed was behind them but the police claimed there was no proof, so nothing was done about it. Ed posted flyers all over the neighborhood with a photo of Dom and the words: ‘Pedophile’ above and ‘Every Dad has his Day’ below. One night, the neighbors noticed a bright light coming from Ed’s house and saw that he was projecting the words onto his house: Every Dad has his Day. It was obvious Ed was spiraling completely out of control.

On April 9, 2002, Ed Lutes took his police issued MP5 machine gun and burst into the Williams’ front door. Tina was sitting on the sofa. Ed opened fire, then stalked into the dining room where he shot Gary. Their daughter was away for a quick fifteen-minute trip but their son was in the bedroom and heard the shots. He came out and saw Ed, then ran back into the room and managed to escape out the window. His sister was arriving home. He flagged her down and told her what had happened. Police arrived and the Williams’ daughter noticed the Gallianos’ door was wide open. She told the officers to check the house, that they would find more victims. Inside the Galliano home, police found the bodies of Dominick, his wife Gail and their twenty-five-year-old son, Christopher, all riddled with bullets.

Police found the below voicemail messages on Ed’s machine. They began a manhunt that ended twelve hours later, when they found Ed in his vehicle, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. Ed had also driven to the police chief’s home—angry at being overlooked for a promotion—and shot him as well. The chief managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Voicemails from Ed Lutes:

It’s an emergency hu[sic]. Well guess what, I finally got pushed over the edge. Had to do what I had to do. And you know what, I’m continuing on and I’m doing it more. You don’t know where I’m at, but I’m doing it more. There’s gonna be a lot of dead *** bodies all over the *** place. Everybody had it coming to em, no they’re gonna *** get it. Good-bye. You know what Ruth Ann. I always loved you. Tell my daughter I’m very sorry, but I did this  to protect her. Cause something had to be done. I snapped. I couldn’t do it anymore. But it had to be done. I couldn’t deal with my daughter being violated and this *** scumbag, criminal justice system did not work in the way it’s supposed to work and my daughter got the bad end of the stick. Do you know what, I did this for my daughter. So [S.], I love you honey. I did it for you baby. Please don’t ever think bad of daddy. Daddy done it for you. Daddy took away these bad *** people for you. I love you baby. Please grow up to be a good girl. You’re not gonna see daddy again cause daddy can’t go to jail. Cops don’t go to jail. You’re not gonna see daddy again, so please grow up to be a good girl. And listen to your mommy and please. Please be with Ruth Ann and, you know, do what she tells you. And try to do the best you can baby. I love you so much but I had to do this honey. I had to do it. I’m gonna miss you so much. Daddy will see you up, up in heaven and you’ll know why I did it for you. I love you, bye baby.  

* * *

Yeah it’s an emergency. You can answer the phone right now. (inaudible). (inaudible) go out and killed already, but you know what, it’s not gonna stop yet. Until I’m not done. It’s gonna be “suicide by cop”. I’m gonna be killed by a *** cop, one of my own, you believe it. I’m gonna be killed by a cop, one of my own. But you know what, all this boils down to what happened to [S.] I *** snapped, you made me snap, you took my *** final snapping point, and you made me snap. And guess what, I snapped on the right people and I killed the right people. Everybody that needed to be dead (inaudible) is dead right now. And guess what, I don’t give two ***. Okay so at least you could do is pick up the phone. Tell [S.] my love, [S.] baby, my love daddy done it for you. You know, daddy would never let anybody hurt you. Somebody hurt you, guess what, daddy had to pay back. He had to pay back in a bad way. He had to pay back in a way that you’ll probably never see me again. But he had to pay back. He had to pay it back. Cause it couldn’t go untouched. It couldn’t go untouched. It had to be done baby. It had to be done baby girl. You know that as well as I do. People can’t just touch you and get away with it. They’re all gonna know or they’re not gonna know because they’re dead. But you know what, you live a nice life with your mom and Ruth Ann, please. You’re not gonna see daddy again. But I want you to grow up to be a big girl. I want you to grow up to be  (inaudible) little girl and I want you to stay with Ruth Ann and mommy. You know, they’ll teach you the right thing. Daddy had to do this honey. I can’t let anybody hurt you. There were people hurt you and the justice system failed us, it failed us. And I finally just had enough and I had to do what I had to do. And there gotta be paybacks. You know that daddy pays back everything. And there gotta be paybacks. You know that daddy pays back everything.  

A lawsuit was filed against the Borough of Seaside Heights where the three surviving children of the Williams family received $2.3 million and relatives of the Gallianos received $3.4 million.

This story is shocking, tragic and heartbreaking. It’s unfathomable that anyone, especially an officer of the law, could go to such lengths and commit such heinous crimes. I don’t know if Sarah was lying or if she was telling the truth about the molestation. Either way, that’s a huge burden to bear, knowing that a story you told—especially if it is untrue—resulted in the murder of five people and your own father’s suicide. The contents of his voicemail would only make her feel that much more guilt, I would think. He literally told her he murdered for her. How awful would it be to have to live with something like that?

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Crime Time ~ Fear Thy Neighbor ~ “Home is Where the Hearse is”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

 

Fear Thy Neighbor ~ Season 1, Episode 5,  “Home is Where the Hearse is”

Miami, Florida, October 4, 1986

In 1983, after serving in the military, Jimmy Escoto returns to his Cuban neighborhood in Miami to live with his mom, his stepbrother and his eight-year-old son, Anthony.  The neighborhood is an idyllic, respectable area where the friendly residents get along well.  Older neighbor, Baldomero Fernandez, and Escoto soon become friends. Jimmy is trying to put himself through nursing school, and Fernandez hires him to do odd jobs around his property.

Finally, Jimmy realizes his dream and graduates nursing school. He gets a job and no longer has time to help Fernandez. Fernandez, who was involved in local politics and was friends with the mayor, sees himself as someone who has earned respect. Not only does Jimmy refuse to work for him, he hosts parties, parades a string of women in and out of his home, and parks a truck he’s restoring on a strip of property between their houses that Baldomero claims is his. When Jimmy will not obey Baldomero’s demands that he keep off of that piece of land, Baldomero builds a fence. Jimmy calls the assessor’s office. A rep comes out and determines the area does not belong to Baldomero and the fence must come down. However, that ruling is quickly overturned, most likely due to Baldomero’s friends in high places. Not long after, the rep is fired and it is determined the land belongs to Baldomero after all.

Jimmy Escoto

This is just one of the many feuds that would transpire between these neighbors who were once friends. Baldomero seethes with rage and watches Jimmy’s every move, calling the police each time he feels Jimmy has violated any kind of law. The police find nothing to charge him with and eventually slap a restraining order against each of them.

Over the next few years, tensions escalate between the two. During that time, Baldomero threatens on more than one occasion that he will kill Jimmy. He even makes the threat to Jimmy’s mother.

In 1986, Jimmy lands a dream job…private nurse to the son of former Miami Dolphins linebacker, Nick Buoniconti. In 1985, when he was nineteen and a linebacker himself, Marc Buoniconti was injured in a game between Citadel and East Tennessee State when he hit, helmet first, into another player’s back. After the hit, he lay motionless on the ground. He was rushed to the hospital where it was determined he had suffered a dislocation between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae. His spinal cord was crushed, and he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Marc Buoniconti

Marc was interviewed on the episode and he credits Jimmy with getting him off the respirator. He pushed and encouraged Marc and Marc made remarkable progress under his care. Marc spoke of Jimmy’s kindness and his caring, selfless nature. Jimmy’s son, Anthony, now a grown (and might I say, very handsome) man, was interviewed on the episode as well and told about what a great father Jimmy was and how much he still misses him.

On October 1, 1986, Jimmy accompanies Marc to New York to attend the first annual, “Great Sports Legends” charity dinner for the Buoniconti fund to cure paralysis, which is still active today. The guest list included Joe DiMaggio, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Namath, Howard Cosell and Richard Nixon.

Three days later, on October 4, 1986, Jimmy’s son, Anthony, was out riding his bike and didn’t come home when Jimmy thought he should. Jimmy went out looking for him and when he returned, Fernandez was parked in his car, on Jimmy’s lawn. Jimmy approaches the car and curses at Fernandez, telling him to leave. Instead, Fernandez pulls a gun. Jimmy doesn’t think he will shoot him, and he doesn’t back down. Fernandez pulls the trigger.

Injured and shocked, Jimmy stumbles back, begging for his life. Fernandez climbs out of the car and continues firing. Jimmy runs. Weak and losing blood, he runs up onto a woman’s lawn. The woman sees the man chasing Jimmy, brandishing a weapon, and she rushes inside to call the police. As she is begging them to hurry, Fernandez runs out of bullets. Jimmy staggers away, but Fernandez chases him down and beats him with the butt of the pistol.  Fernandez’s wife arrives on the scene and takes the gun away from her husband. At that point, Fernandez picks up a cement slab and slams it into Jimmy’s head, over and over. The police finally arrive and Jimmy is rushed to the hospital, but it is too late. Jimmy Escoto is dead.

Anthony Escoto, who is now a Miami Firefighter

Fernandez was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He claimed he feared for his life and that Jimmy had attacked him with a chain. On the program, the Chief of Police stated that Fernandez was checked for injuries from the chain he claimed Jimmy hit him with, and there was no indication of any injury.

The community for the most part supported Fernandez. Among his supporters was the mayor of Miami. Fernandez was sentenced to seven years in prison, but he only ended up serving three.  

In my research I found stories that spoke of ‘vigilante justice’ and how the ‘criminal became the victim’ and all the support that Fernandez had. I know there is more than one side to every story, but the facts that were presented in the program–from people who were around at the time, including the chief of police–indicate that the feud went both ways and the violence that erupted that day was all on Fernandez. He not only shot Jimmy, he stalked him and beat him repeatedly, crushing his head with a cement block as Jimmy lay helpless on the ground. Fernandez leaves a family destroyed and a young boy fatherless. And, for that, the man serves three years? That, in my opinion, is appalling.

What do you think? Was justice served?

 

[I love true crime shows, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 ) I love Investigation Discovery and watch many of the various shows, although some are a little too cheesy. However, there are plenty of shows that are done well enough to feed my fascination with murder. Each week, I’ll blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts.]

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