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June 27, 1967
It was a slow lazy Tuesday, the kind where everyone is an hour or two behind schedule. The sun was especially hot for 9 a.m. on a late June day. Gus Kosco pushed himself away from the breakfast table, lit a cigarette, wiped the egg drippings into his shirt and vigorously ground his cigarette into the ashtray. His wife sat there shaking her head and muttered, "When are you going to get your ass going today."
Gus stood up erect, belying his seventy years and replied, "Get off my ass, I've worked with these goddamn hands for seventy years and I deserve a little rest. The boys are handling everything. All I've got to do now is to learn to put up with your bullshit!"
His wife began to pick up the breakfast dishes. "You're as big an asshole today as when I married you," she said; half meaning it and half in jest.
Gus went out and inspected his '63 pickup truck. It still contained some refuse from yesterday's chores; he decided to drive up to his property about a half-mile away and unload the truck. Gus was proud of his property, a sandpit about twenty acres in size adjacent to the Town of Tafton Municipal Dump. The land had been good to him over the years providing him with gravel, sand and soil, which he could use in his cesspool and excavation business. The land was ideally located for future real estate development as it was located in a secluded area with only a few homes close by.
Numerous stately New England pine trees, arranged by nature in clusters, created several cool pine grove areas. The landfill dump was almost filled up. It wouldn't be long until the filled in land would be sold for development. Gus figured he would be in a great position to capitalize once that happened, "if only I live long enough" he thought to himself as he drove to the sandpit. "Those pea brained kids of mine wouldn't have the sense to capitalize on the property. They'll tell off a municipal official or call someone an 'asshole' and blow the whole deal."
As his truck slowly traveled up Pile Street across the railroad tracks and past the town well, he was within five hundred yards of his property when he passed the only two homes in the area, which happened to belong to two of his boys and their families. The sun was bearing directly down on him as he saw from the corner of his eye a yellow ball dart across the street. His instincts forced him to brake the truck immediately. His head went forward, just touching the windshield. The truck stopped just in time as he noticed his granddaughter Nancy, age 4, frozen in horror just a foot from the left fender of the truck. Gus realized his reactions were pitifully slow; to the point where he shouldn't even be driving anymore. He got out of the truck, approached Nancy who still remained frozen and speechless, and picked her up. He brought her to the front lawn and then retrieved the ball. With that Nancy broke into enormous tears and hugged and thanked Gus. He was tempted to give her mother a piece of his mind, but then thought twice about it, turned around and headed back to the truck. "Nancy, you stay in your yard and never chase a ball into the street. In fact, don't play ball at all on this lawn and go give that ball back to your mother," he said authoritatively.
As he stepped back into the truck he thought that mother of her's is nothing but a waste. My boy is out beating his butt off and she's probably in bed, watching those damn soap operas, drinking her coffee and talking on the phone. It's about time some of those broads were pushed off their asses and sent to Vietnam. She doesn't even know what her own kids are doing.
Approaching the entrance to his property he observed how still and lazy everything was. No activity over at the dump, no traffic on the roads. The entrance to his property was a dirt road, ten feet wide and bordered by woods on either side. About ten feet in from the road stood a cable across the road about four feet high, attached to a pole on either side. Gus stopped the truck, got out and fumbled for his keys. He unlocked the cable and lowered it to the ground.
This routine was still a pain in the ass to Gus, but he had resigned himself to this annoyance. He knew it was the only effective way to prevent those freeloaders in town from swiping his gravel and fill, and to prevent those over-sexed kids from filling his sand pit with beer cans and used condoms. He thought to himself that the town was a lot better off fifteen years ago when it was a small mill town only twenty miles from Boston. It was separated from the city by the Blue Hills, a large area of rugged terrain extending some fifteen miles long and five miles wide, preserved by the government for conservation purposes. Gus didn't know who that smart Governor was who had the foresight years ago to preserve the Blue Hills as recreation and conservation land so close to Boston. However, as far as Gus was concerned Governor Dever undid all the good. In the 50's he went on a road-building binge and covered half the state with asphalt. Especially Route 128, which bordered the Blue Hills and converted Tafton from a mill town independent of the city, to a suburban bedroom community to Boston.
After unlocking the cable Gus saw on the ground a huge pile of rubbish and garbage mixed together. He immediately went into a tirade and yelled loudly, although no one could hear him, a refrain that his family had heard over and over again in recent years. "Those bastards from the city, whoever let those cock-sucking carpetbaggers into this town had no idea what a terrible mistake it was. They don't even know where the town dump is and they don't as much give a shit; for Christ's sake, you'd think they'd know enough to separate the garbage from the rubbish! They come to Tafton thinking they are bringing culture to this town. BULLSHIT! All they're bringing is their fucking garbage and higher taxes."
Gus was all worked up. His thoughts to himself somehow always became verbalized. "Christ, now they're making the school committee hire a fucking psychiatrist to take care of their bastard kids. All those kids need is a good swift kick in the ass and the back of a hand. My kids never needed all this counseling bullshit. My own kids have married some of this scum moving in from the city. If they had married nice girls from the town instead of carpetbaggers, little Nancy wouldn't have been on that road this morning."
Gus's voice had tapered off halfway through his ranting when he realized that his heart was beating faster and faster. He realized the futility of getting all worked up over something he had no control over. But no matter how many times he told himself this, he still found himself going off the deep end over this subject.
With the wire barrier lowered he got back in the truck and proceeded up the dirt tree-lined road, which opened up into the sand pit about 200 feet further up. He drove slowly up the bumpy terrain so as not to put too much strain on the truck. Sea gulls were soaring overhead, which was the usual case on a hot summer day as they were attracted from Boston Harbor some ten miles to the east by the strange aroma of the dump.
Gus pulled the truck to a halt just as the road opened into the pit. He got out and proceeded to the back of the truck to unload his refuse, but then changed his mind and decided to survey the pit to see if anyone had taken any loads out of it.
The open pit itself was completely barren except for mounds and mounds of sand. At the front there was a sloping bowl around 300 feet in circumference leading to a dune that was approximately 30 feet in height, which extended back some 500 yards. With sand everywhere and the intense 94° heat, it was akin to being on the Sahara. Gus went to the right side of the bowl to pick up some empty Ballantine bottles. As he stooped, he grabbed a handful of sand and instantly dropped it as it scorched his hand. The burn caused him to abruptly jerk his head and out of the corner of his eye he noticed something in the middle of the bowl around 20 feet away. He looked directly at it and couldn't believe his eyes. He wondered if the heat and failing eyesight were playing tricks with his vision. It looked like a person lying face down in the sand.
He thought to himself:
"Another one of these fucking, carpetbagger drunks. I'd better wake the guy up before he dries up like a prune."
Gus moved swiftly towards the object and as he got closer sure enough it was a man; black hair, about five feet eight, dressed in black chino pants, white shirt and blazer, lying face down in the sand with his hands resting behind his back. Suddenly his vision was blurred by a reflection from the man's lower back. He blocked the reflection with his hands cupped in front of his eyes as he bent down to look closer.
The man's hands were fastened behind his back by a bright shiny pair of handcuffs. Gus's heart began beating faster and faster, and he began to feel faint. He paused for a moment, took a deep breath, bent over the man, grabbed his right shoulder and began to shake him.
"Wake up. Wake up! This is no place to sleep off a drunk!" He shook him several times with increasing force. There was no reaction. Gus was scared. This man was motionless. Gus didn't know if he was dead or not. He was afraid to turn him over. He didn't know how to feel someone's pulse, but he had seen in movies that you felt the person at the inner wrists. He clutched the man's right wrist but couldn't feel anything and he thought maybe the handcuffs had cut off the circulation.
Tremors overcame Gus as he wondered if the aggressors were still in the pit area and he could be attacked at any minute. Before getting out of there he took one last look at the body. At the right side of the man's well-groomed head he saw that the hair was parted and scorched. As he bent to look closer he observed a hole in the right temple.
"Oh my God!" Gus blurted. "This guy's been shot close up!" Gus ran as fast as he has run in thirty years, slipping twice in the sand before jumping into the truck. He only knew one thing; he had to get out of there. He backed his truck all the way out, stripping gears on the way and bounding over the road. He left the cable down, something he had never done in his entire life.CHAPTER 2
Not much was going on this day for Tom O'Brien, Chief of Police in Tafton, a town of approximately 15,000 residents. There had not been many arrests in the past week and the peace of the day was interrupted only when a resident would call to say their family was going to Cape Cod for a vacation. They often asked if the police would keep an eye on the house while they were gone. The chief would add the name and address on a chart he had designed for this purpose. He knew that these requests had gotten to the point where they really could not be adequately handled. Here it was the week before the 4th of July and he had already filled up three charts with names. Ten years ago, there would have been only a few names on one chart.
His twenty-one-man squad was depleted by summer vacations. With schools out, there was a lot of nuisance work for the police all over town dealing with teenagers at night. The chief knew that the homes were not being watched as the citizens assumed and he meant to do something about it. He followed his normal operating procedure by registering these thoughts in the back of his mind as another series of details to be dealt with later.
After taking a call to register a home, the chief resumed reading an editorial by James Reston in the Boston Herald-American. The chief was a towering man, six feet four inches in height with a thick mop of gray hair. He was not particularly handsome, but his height, detached look and fifty-four years gave him a certain air of authority and distinction. In his three years as chief he had demonstrated an unusual quality, especially for someone who had risen through the ranks of a small town police force. This was a quality, which in one respect was admirable, but in another respect was quite irritating to the citizens and public officials for whom he served. The special quality he possessed was his intense intellectual curiosity and pursuits. He was a small-town chief who read the New York Times on Sundays. He could debate world problems, economics and politics with anyone. He knew the law and cases interpreting the law. Any exam in police circles he ever took he'd finished number one, but he was content with his station in life to the point where he never let a few details get in the way of his big thoughts.
Big Tom, as they called him, was wrestling with the editorial points made by James Reston when the phone rang again. He was tempted not to answer as he was halfway through the article and didn't relish the idea of starting a fourth chart for house checks.
Tom, however, could never be accused of being unconscientious. On the sixth ring he picked up the phone.
"Goddamn, doesn't anyone answer the phone down there?" The words were coming fast and furious.
"This is Gus Kosco. I think there's been a murder up at my pit. Get someone up there quick!" Tom didn't know if he heard correctly, or if this was some kind of a joke.
"Who is this calling? What did you say happened? Speak slower!"
"This is old-man Kosco! I am not kidding. There has been a murder at my pit."
Big Tom now recognized the voice. The absence of cursing convinced him that Gus must be serious.
"Okay Gus, I'll be there right away. Don't touch anything."
Tom sat back for a moment. The impact of what he heard had not yet sunk in. A murder! Have we ever had a murder in Tafton? Tom thought. In his twenty-three years on the force he could never remember a murder in Tafton. Without any experience to call upon, Tom began searching his memory for those homicide procedures he had learned through books, courses and seminars. The first thing that hit him was, "preservation of the scene."
He worried, "Oh God, Gus and his boys will probably get up there and touch everything." Tom jumped out of his chair and quickly got to the radio desk and called his patrol car to get to the scene.
"Jimmy, Big Tom, do you hear me?"
"There's been a murder at Kosco's pit. Get there as fast as you can and don't let anyone touch anything. I'll be right up."
He then got on the phone and dialed the District Attorney's office, Detective Bureau. "Hi, Chief Tom O'Brien from Tafton, we've had a murder here at Kosco's pit. We'll wait for you before anything is done."
Sargent Bill Adams still holding the phone yelled across the desk to State Police Captain John Flynn as he heard the phone click. "John, there's been a murder somewhere in Tafton. That mini brain chief hung up without giving me the address or any details. He said something about a pit."
"Sarge, I know where it is, let's go."
Flynn told his secretary to let the DA know about the murder and where they were going. He also instructed the secretary to call the medical examiner, photographer and ballistician to get to the pit in Tafton, which is right next to the town dump.
Flynn confided to Sargent Adams, "We'll have to take over this case right away or the chief will have it all screwed up."
The chief drove to the pit in his unmarked car at a faster rate of speed than is normal for him. He was concerned the scene could be contaminated and did not want the blame. As he drove into the pit he saw a Tafton cruiser already there. His worries were allayed when he saw Jimmy Bose of the local force guarding the area. Only Gus was present standing at least twenty feet from the body.
"Thank God those sons of his didn't get here yet," the Chief thought.
As the chief got closer to the body he observed the hands of the deceased cuffed behind his back. He grumbled to anyone within hearing range, "Not another gangland murder I hope. Why don't those idiots stay in Boston and Revere and leave us alone?"
"Has anyone touched anything?"
"We've been here for five minutes," said Officer Bose "and nothing's been touched. Gus tells me he hasn't touched anything since he looked for a pulse and everything still looks the same as when he was here before."
"Is that right Gus?"
"Right Chief! Now get this fucking body out of here so I can get some work done. This town is going to shit!"
"I'm not moving a thing until the state police get here Gus. Now give me the details of how you found the body."
The chief searched for a pen and paper, Officer Bose noticing his fumbling gave him a pen as the chief picked up a brown paper bag and ripped off a piece to write on. A few minutes later Captain Flynn and Sargent Adams from the state police arrived. As they got close Flynn hollered, "Are those cuffs on his hands?"
"Christ" said Flynn, "this could be number 46 on the Hit Parade!" Flynn stood over the body then surveyed the area. "Did anyone see or hear anything, any witnesses?"
"None that we know of John," responded the chief as he handed over his scribbled notes on the ripped brown bag.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "No. 46 on the Greater Boston Hit List"
Copyright © 2018 Richard Murphy.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter I June 27, 1967, 1,
Chapter II The Scene, 6,
Chapter III The Neighbor, 13,
Chapter IV The Patriarch, 17,
Chapter V Debbie's First Interview, 19,
Chapter VI Initial Data, 25,
Chapter VII The Media, 30,
Chapter VIII A Plan, 34,
Chapter IX The Town Club and The Bookie, 39,
Chapter X The Captain, 44,
Chapter XI Immediate Family, 49,
Chapter XII Debbie's Second Interview, 55,
Chapter XIII Red Clancy, 59,
Chapter XIV The In-Laws, 61,
Chapter XV The Search and Polygraph, 65,
Chapter XVI Insurance, 68,
Chapter XVII Change of Plans, 71,
Chapter XVIII The Prosecutor, 74,
Chapter XIX The Cowboy Lounge, 76,
Chapter XX Navy Lover, 78,
Chapter XXI Candy Jones, 80,
Chapter XXII Additional Interviews of Candy, 86,
Chapter XXIII The Breakthrough, 91,
Chapter XXIV Pennsylvania Arrest, 99,
Chapter XXV Initial Court Proceedings, 105,
Chapter XXVI Farley's Meetings with Debbie, 109,
Chapter XXVII Roger James Background, 113,
Chapter XXVIII Debbie's 2nd Interview with Farley, 116,
Chapter XXIX Prosecution Game Plan, 118,
Chapter XXX The Trial, 119,
Chapter XXXI The Plea Bargain, 121,
Chapter XXXII Candy and Bolding's Testimonies, 128,
Chapter XXXIII Debbie's Testimony, 130,
Chapter XXXIV Last Day of Testimony, 132,
Chapter XXXV The Sentencing of Debbie, 134,
Chapter XXXVI Closing Argument, 136,
Chapter XXXVII The Verdict, 139,
Chapter XXXVIII After the Verdict, 142,
Chapter XXXIX Several Years Post Verdict, 144,
Book Club Topics, 149,