Posts Tagged ‘New York in 1980’

The Phantom of the Opera murder at the Met

March 4, 2013

HelenhagnesIt happened during a performance of the Berlin Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on July 23, 1980.

Helen Hagnes, a gifted 31-year-old violinist (left), left her instrument on her chair in the orchestra pit during an intermission at about 9:30 pm.

When the performance resumed, Hagnes’ seat was still empty. After the show, police were called in.

Following an all-night search, Hagnes’ naked body was found inside a six-story air shaft. She’d been tied up, gagged, and thrown from the roof.

As brutal as the crime was, it didn’t take police long to solve what had been dubbed the “Phantom of the Opera” murder.

MetoperahouseoutsideFirst, there was the partial palm print found on the roof. And because the knots used to bind her limbs were the same knots used by stagehands, investigators figured the killer was employed by Lincoln Center and knew the opera house’s layout.

That led police to question a 21-year-old stagehand named Craig Crimmins. Eventually, Crimmins confessed: He told cops that he was drunk when he encountered Hagnes in an elevator.

He tried to rape her in a stairwell, and when she resisted, he forced her to the roof and kicked her into the air shaft.”Something snapped in my brain,” he told a judge in 1981, who sentenced him to 20 years to life.

[Top photo: New York Times. Bottom photo: Blehgoaway]

The tragic fate of John Gotti’s neighbor

June 4, 2012

Late on the afternoon of March 18, 1980, John Favara was driving to his Howard Beach home.

The husband and father of two, who worked at a Castro Convertibles factory in Long Island, was minutes from his driveway on 86th Street when he hit a 12-year-old boy riding a motorbike.

It was Frank Gotti, son of Favara’s neighbor and Gambino crime boss John Gotti (right).

Frank died later that day; police determined that it was an accident and never charged Favara.

The anonymous threats started almost immediately. “Murderer” was spray-painted on Favara’s car, and Mrs. Gotti reportedly clubbed him over the fence separating their homes.

Police warned Favara to get out of town, but he apparently didn’t take their advice fast enough.

On July 28, Favara was spotted being forced into a van near the Castro factory. He was never seen dead or alive again.

A story emerged in 2001 that he had been shot and beaten, his body encased in cement and tossed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Then in 2009, papers filed by prosecutors against Gambino soldier Charles Carneglia alleged that Carneglia had carried out the hit.

According to the Daily News, after being shoved in the van, “[Favara was] shot in the legs. He was taken to another location in Brooklyn where he was killed and stuffed into a 55-gallon drum,” his body dissolved in an acid bath.

[Photo of John Favara’s former Howard Beach home: Daily News]