Night of the Devil: The Untold Story of Thomas Trantino and the Angel Lounge Killings

Overview

On the evening of Sunday, August 25, 1963, a group of revelers drove into the small town of Lodi, New Jersey, bound for a local tavern called the Angel Lounge. Hours later, bullets ripped through the smoky air of the bar. When the carnage ended, two Lodi police officers were dead. Their killers had escaped. The close-knit community of Lodi, shattered by the crime, would never be the same. Nor would the families of the victims: Sergeant Peter Voto, who left behind a wife and three children, and 22-year-old Gary ...
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Overview

On the evening of Sunday, August 25, 1963, a group of revelers drove into the small town of Lodi, New Jersey, bound for a local tavern called the Angel Lounge. Hours later, bullets ripped through the smoky air of the bar. When the carnage ended, two Lodi police officers were dead. Their killers had escaped. The close-knit community of Lodi, shattered by the crime, would never be the same. Nor would the families of the victims: Sergeant Peter Voto, who left behind a wife and three children, and 22-year-old Gary Tedesco, whose career in law enforcement had barely begun when his life was brutally cut short. The people of Lodi vowed that the killers would pay for what they had done. One of the hoodlums was shot and killed two days after the murders. The other, Thomas Trantino, was imprisoned and sentenced to die for his crime. But Trantino would not be put to death in New Jersey; nor would he spend the rest of his life in prison. After being incarcerated for almost 40 years, and earning the distinction of being the longest-serving prisoner in the New Jersey penal system, Thomas Trantino ultimately walked out of prison a free man.

The murder of the policemen in the Angel Lounge remains one of the most notorious crimes in New Jersey history, yet there has never been an in-depth examination of the case and its aftermath -- until now. Night of the Devil takes readers inside the crime, from the blood-spattered Angel Lounge to the courtroom where Thomas Trantino presented testimony that would keep him locked up for decades. As they trace Trantino's tortuous path from death row to freedom, readers will be forced to confront their own attitudes about punishment and justice. How could a man who shot two policemen in cold blood -- a man who was supposed to die for what he did, whose despicable act inflamed the passions of politicians, judges, and entire communities -- ever be allowed to walk among us again? When the rules say it is time for a guilty man to go free, should the rules be changed to keep him imprisoned? Where do victims' rights end and prisoners' rights begin? Night of the Devil probes the answers to these questions, raising issues that compel readers to reevaluate their feelings about America's criminal justice system. Thomas Trantino's quest for freedom came to an end a generation after he committed a horrible crime. Did he serve more time than he should have? Or could no amount of time ever make up for what the people of Lodi lost in 1963?

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Stout, in Night of the Devil, refrains from taking sides or moralizing about the death penalty. He offers an evenhanded, well-researched account of the legal machinations that kept Trantino a prisoner, as well as a fair and sympathetic portrait of the families of the victims, who still suffer the effects of that night at the Angel Lounge. — Charles Salzberg
Library Journal
In the early morning hours of August 26, 1963, two local police officers were shot and killed at a tavern in the small town of Lodi, NJ. Two days later, one of the suspects was shot and the other, Thomas Trantino, turned himself in to the police. Eventually, Trantino was imprisoned and sentenced to die but was instead released after nearly 40 years. Stout, an Edgar Award winner and New York Times reporter, has penned a well-written work, telling the story of the crime and following events from numerous perspectives, including those of the lawyers, the victims' families, and Trantino himself. The result is an engrossing account that does not intend to probe larger issues. Recommended for medium and large public libraries where there is an interest in true crime and especially those with local interest.-Sarah Jent, Univ. of Louisville Lib. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780940159709
  • Publisher: Camino Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction ix
Part I
Chapter 1 An Old Cop with a Mission 3
Chapter 2 This Place Called Lodi 6
Chapter 3 A Family in Brooklyn 11
Chapter 4 The Bully 16
Chapter 5 Not Cut Out for Marriage 18
Chapter 6 Gary and Adrienne 23
Chapter 7 Not a Day to Rest 25
Chapter 8 Forebodings 28
Chapter 9 A Celebration Turns Deadly 32
Chapter 10 Crazy Flight 37
Chapter 11 Before and After 41
Chapter 12 Manhunt 45
Chapter 13 Rage and Legend 50
Chapter 14 Across the River Again 54
Chapter 15 The Adversaries 57
Chapter 16 The Trial Begins 62
Chapter 17 First on the Scene 66
Chapter 18 The Silent Penitent 69
Chapter 19 What the Bullets Told 71
Chapter 20 Trantino on a Tightrope 74
Chapter 21 Chaos, Terror, and Death 78
Chapter 22 Trantino's Memory Gaps 87
Chapter 23 Two Psychiatrists, Two Perspectives 93
Chapter 24 Driving Her Boyfriend 100
Chapter 25 A Life in the Balance 102
Chapter 26 Kaleidoscope 108
Chapter 27 A Verdict and an "Obituary" 116
Part II
Chapter 28 "May God have Mercy ..." 121
Chapter 29 From Limbo to Life 127
Chapter 30 Getting Used to Prison 132
Chapter 31 The Other Victims 139
Chapter 32 How Can This Be? 143
Chapter 33 Held Hostage 149
Chapter 34 Feeling Close to Freedom 154
Chapter 35 A Federal Case 160
Chapter 36 Andy Voto's Evening 163
Chapter 37 Too Late to be Sorry 165
Chapter 38 So Much Time 170
Chapter 39 Speaking to the Wind 173
Chapter 40 An Eloquent Dissent 177
Chapter 41 What's to Lose? 181
Chapter 42 A Taste of Tranquility 186
Part III
Chapter 43 "Sorry Beyond All Measure" 191
Chapter 44 The Eyebrows go Up 197
Chapter 45 Hope for the Defense 201
Chapter 46 Halfway to Freedom 205
Chapter 47 Winter in Lodi 212
Chapter 48 Rip Van Winkle 219
Index 223
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    Justice system fails, making a devil into an angel

    The book was not too factual. Trantino was prtrayed as an down trodden Youthful offender. The Three people, Caserino, Falco and Trantino were up to not good. falco needed an extra gun so he bought it from the Tenneant at the Angel Lounge. Falco and Caserino had commited a murder in New York and brought along Trantino for nioght of frolic. why didn't the authro really stop and ask people that had better opinioons of the situation or ask a few of the Police Officers that have lived through this nightare. Why didn't he write about how Tedesco's Father died shortly after froma broken heart, his sisters cried every day and his Mother who is still alive still crys about her lost son. Trantino lived his prison life in a trailer with conjacal visits and lived in a separte trailer. He was let out to go window shopping. some treatment for a Cop Killer. He was given all the luxeries of home and then some. what did he teach the new inmates at prison, Murder 101? What a scam. The auther works for or worked for one of the most leftist papers in the country next to the LA times. He should have researched more and gotten the real low down on Trantino and how he was a punk when he hung out in Lodi making vists to his girl friend on Grove Street? Who's baya was it? trantino was a killer along with half a fag Falco. They wanted to kae a movie 'Lock the Lock? Should have been Lock the lock and trhow away the keys.

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