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Long IslandCrime

Bizarre Long Island crimes through the years

Long Island's infamous "Amityville Horror" case is far from the only bizarre crime to ever happen here.

Here are reports of some culled from our archives. Do you remember any that should be added to the list? Email

Richard 'Ricky' Kasso Jr. of Northport (pictured here
Photo Credit: Newsday / Tony Jerome

Richard 'Ricky' Kasso Jr. of Northport (pictured here on the day of his arraignment in 1984) was found hanged in his cell at the Suffolk County Jail on July 7, 1984.

Kasso was charged in the murder case of Gary Lauwers, a 17-year-old from East Northport who authorities state was killed in a sacrificial, satanic ritual, committed in the Aztakea Woods of Northport. Kasso allegedly got upset remembering a time that Lauwers had stolen angel dust from him. Although the debt had already been paid, Kasso reportedly cut locks of Lauwers' hair with a four-inch hunting knife, threw them into a nearby fire, and then began hitting him. Lauwers tried to fight back but Kasso stabbed him in his back. As he tried to get away, Kasso instructed then 18-year-old James "Jimmy" Troiano of East Northport (also charged in the case) to hold Lauwers while Kasso continued to stab him more than two dozen times (another person, then-16-year-old Albert Quinones, was also present).

A documentary highlighting the case called "Ricky 6" was later featured on the Discovery Channel.

Quamine Taylor was arrested on April 1, 2012,
Photo Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff

Quamine Taylor was arrested on April 1, 2012, at the East Hampton home of musician and entrepreneur Sean "Diddy" Combs. On July 5, 2012 he pleaded guilty to criminal trespass, which included drinking the rap mogul's liquor, smoking his cigars and sleeping in his bed. Taylor, who was sentenced to 120 days in jail, had previously been arrested at Combs' residence in June 2001.

Third House in Montauk County Park was the
Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

Third House in Montauk County Park was the scene of a violent episode during Prohibition.

Research reveals that in April 1925, a New York State trooper was shot and wounded by a bootlegger at Third House while attempting to secure a cache of liquor worth $250,000, about $3.5 million in 2016. With its remote location, sparse population and ocean access, Montauk in the 1920s was a haven for rumrunning and bootlegging as well as a place to drink banned alcoholic beverages.

Research indicates that locals, gangsters, members of law enforcement and public officials were in cahoots to help the flow of illegal alcohol. According to published accounts, the wounded state trooper, William Delmadge of St. James, was not part of a legitimate police raid on Third House but instead was running with a crew trying to hijack the liquor stored on the property. Delmadge also testified he received a bribe of $100 to help protect a separate supply of alcohol being delivered by truck. He was convicted and sentenced to 8 months in Suffolk County jail.

(In the photo from Nov. 27, 2016: Third House, as it appears today, currently used as the headquarters for Montauk County Park.)

On March 6, 1974, 8-year-old John Calzadilla was
Photo Credit: Newsday / Mitch Turner

On March 6, 1974, 8-year-old John Calzadilla was abducted off a Dix Hills street three blocks from his home as he was returning from Rolling Hills Elementary School. He was released unharmed 30 hours later, after his family paid a $50,000 ransom. According to testimony at their trials, the kidnappers, five New Jersey men, decided to return the boy when they heard the FBI was on the case. They never got the ransom, either. The drop point was a railroad bridge, and the money was taken by two Penn Central railroad workers. The rail workers were caught and most of the money was returned. Two of the kidnappers were the ex brothers-in-law of John's father, Michael, by a previous marriage. The two leaders of the conspiracy, Roberto Martinez and brother Jorge, received a 30- and a 25-year federal prison term, respectively. Norberto Fernandez, 18, got up to 12 years, and Jose Antonio Hernandez, 18, got up to 10 years. Maria Merida, 17, who lured Calzadilla into the car used to abduct him, was the prosecution's star witness and received a 2-year term. Ricardo Tuero, 17, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of juvenile delinquency and received 3 months' probation. The seventh defendant, Wilfredo Alvarez, 18, was acquitted on a kidnapping charge. In this Sept. 2, 1974 photo, John Calzadilla shows one of the souvenirs of his kidnapping, a blown-up set of his fingerprints, comparing his direct print, left, and one found at the scene of his captivity in New Jersey.

In March 1982, Sonnie Bonom of Wantagh was
Photo Credit: Newsday file

In March 1982, Sonnie Bonom of Wantagh was arrested after she and an accomplice, both dressed as clowns, gained access to the apartment of Mary Anne Adams of Freeport. Their intent, said prosecutors, was to kill Adams by injecting her with chemicals and household items such as Pepto-Bismol. At the time Adams was living with Bonom's estranged husband, Neil. A neighbor alerted police to the commotion in the apartment and when officers showed up, the accomplice clown jumped out a first-floor window, never to be seen again. Bonom, however, in full clown regalia, was caught standing in Adams' living room with a dozen balloons floating overhead. Adams, meanwhile, had been handcuffed, gagged, taped like a mummy and beaten about her legs with a hammer. In 1983, Bonom was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree burglary. This clipping showing a police photo of Bonom dressed as a clown appeared in Newsday on Feb. 18, 1983.

Samuel Strauss, former owner of the Long Island
Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

Samuel Strauss, former owner of the Long Island Pet Cemetery in Middle Island, leaves court on Dec. 5, 1996, after explaining why he did not want to pay a $75,000 fine for a 1992 conviction on 45 counts of mail fraud in a scam where thousands of dead pets were dumped into mass graves despite promises that they would be cremated. In June 1991, the FBI and the Suffolk County district attorney's office raided the pet cemetery and discovered that Strauss, 71, of Boca Raton, Florida, and his son, Alan Strauss, 36, of Dix Hills, had left thousands of cats and dogs to rot behind a fence bordering the property. In addition, the Strausses performed mass cremations of pets after telling the pet owners they would be cremated individually and sent families ashes from the mass cremations. More than a quarter of a million pets were supposed to have been buried or cremated at the cemetery between 1984 and 1991. The Strausses were convicted in 1992 of mail fraud and other charges. Samuel Strauss was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and Alan Strauss was sentenced to 63 months and fined $25,000.

In May 1996, Jorge Luzunaya, 22, of Patchogue,
Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

In May 1996, Jorge Luzunaya, 22, of Patchogue, got into a tight spot when all he really wanted was some cold beer. At about 2 a.m. on May 18, he climbed out the bathroom window of his second-floor apartment and jumped to the roof of an adjacent building that housed two businesses, including a deli. After sliding down the chimney in an effort to get into the deli and take some beer, the would-be burglar got stuck and stayed that way for about five hours until he was rescued the next morning after business owners heard his cries for help. Luzunaya later plead guilty to attempted burglary and was sentenced to 4 months in jail.

In 1998, a South Huntington landlord, Dennis Kuchmak,
Photo Credit: Newsday / Dick Yarwood

In 1998, a South Huntington landlord, Dennis Kuchmak, was arrested after allegedly entering a tenant's apartment and urinating into leftover food containers before placing them back into her refrigerator. Earlier, the tenant had discovered a foul stench in her leftover food and reported it to the health department, which determined that the leftovers contained feces. After the health department cleared the restaurant where it was originally prepared, the tenant set up a camera in her apartment and captured Kuchmak urinating into two containers of her food. Kuchmak pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and was sentenced to 6 months in jail, 5 years' probation and $300 in restitution. In this photo, Kuchmak is led into court after his arrest on March 4, 1998.

In September 1999, the owners of a Jericho
Photo Credit: Handout

In September 1999, the owners of a Jericho home discovered the bodies of Reyna Angelica Marroquin and her full-term fetus inside this sealed drum in the crawl space underneath the house. It was later determined that the previous owner of the home, Howard Elkins, had hidden the drum there for decades while living with his family in the house. When Elkins sold the home and moved with his wife to Florida in 1972, he left the drum in place. Marroquin had worked at the plastics company that Elikins once owned; he committed suicide hours after police questioned him in Florida about the circumstances of her death. In 2000, a DNA test proved that the fetus that Marroquin had carried was fathered by Elkins.

In 2001, brothers Anthony Sainato, 57, of Manhasset,
Photo Credit: Don Norkett

In 2001, brothers Anthony Sainato, 57, of Manhasset, and Vincent Sainato, 59, of Staten Island, were sentenced to prison in U.S. District Court in Central Islip for evading $3.6 million in taxes in a scheme that included pocketing money by writing and cashing checks made out to fictitious individuals. In a bit of low comedy, some of the names that the brothers chose to write checks to were Sue Shee, Clair Voyant, Patty O'Furniture and Ivan Itch. The pair, who owned construction and trucking firms on Long Island and Queens, were ordered to pay back taxes. Anthony was sentenced to 6 years in prison and Vincent was sentenced to 3 years, 4 months.

On March 25, 2001, former dermatologist Michael Klein
Photo Credit: Newsday / John S. Vater

On March 25, 2001, former dermatologist Michael Klein of Asharoken firebombed a onetime friend's Huntington office building with a Molotov cocktail while wearing a false beard. Klein had lost his medical license in 1998 due to misconduct allegations and had suffered from bipolar disorder. He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree arson and fourth-degree possession of a weapon and received an 18-month sentence.

In November 2002, Michael Herz, 18, Michael Sossi,
Photo Credit: Newsday / Joseph D. Sullivan

In November 2002, Michael Herz, 18, Michael Sossi, 17, and Patrick O'Rourke, 19, all of Patchogue, broke open three graves in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Patchogue, removed the skeletons and brought them to a friend's party. Police were tipped off to the crime after Herz talked about it in school, ultimately telling a teacher. After police contacted him on Dec. 13, Herz directed them to a drainage conduit under Sunrise Highway in Patchogue where the bodies were disposed. Sossi pleaded guilty to attempted cemetery desecration, and was sentenced in April to 3 years' probation and a $250 fine. O'Rourke pleaded guilty in June to receiving a stolen body for the skeletal remains that were transported in the trunk of his car, and was sentenced to a $250 fine. Here, Herz leaves the courtroom of Judge Martin J. Kerin in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on July 23, 2003, after being sentenced to 5 years' probation on counts including cemetery desecration, attempted grand larceny, opening a grave and body stealing.

Anthony Barone of Dix Hills was sentenced to
Photo Credit: Suffolk County SPCA

Anthony Barone of Dix Hills was sentenced to 4 years in prison in December 2005, seven months after beating, drugging and chaining his wife Anastasia in their basement where pet leopards -- one of them shown here -- roamed freely.

William Walsh Jr. strangled his wife, Leah, in
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

William Walsh Jr. strangled his wife, Leah, in their Bethpage home during an argument over his suspected infidelity after his return from a trip to Atlantic City in the wee hours of Oct. 26, 2008. As Leah's body lay in their bedroom, Walsh ran errands to establish an alibi, including doing laundry at a local Laundromat and going to a local McDonald's. Later, Walsh dumped her body in a wooded area of North Hills. Early the next morning, a Monday, he left her car by the side of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway -- letting air out of a tire before returning to it later to plant her lunch bag in the car and her pocketbook on the shoulder of the road to make it appear as if she had disappeared on her way to work. He subsequently asked the public for help finding his wife, but during a break in an interview with police detectives, he alerted their suspicion by snapping a smiling self-portrait. That Wednesday, her body was found and he was arrested. Walsh is currently serving a term of 18 years to life at Sing Sing prison upstate and is eligible for parole in October 2026. Here, Walsh leaves Nassau County Court in Mineola on May 20, 2010, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for killing his school teacher wife.

Eric Stetz of Bay Shore pleaded guilty to
Photo Credit: NCPD

Eric Stetz of Bay Shore pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment after booby-trapping his apartment door with a crutch, an elastic cord and a knife in April 2008. Stetz had been told that a Verizon agent needed access to his apartment. At the time of the visit Stetz was not home, and when the superintendent went to open the door the trap was discovered. Stretz's mother claimed her son had set up the device to protect himself from squatters.

On July 22, 2010, a gunman dressed as
Photo Credit: AP

On July 22, 2010, a gunman dressed as Darth Vader robbed a Chase Bank branch on Route 347 in Setauket, making away with an undisclosed amount of cash. The costumed criminal threatened bank customers, throwing one man to the ground, pointing a gun at him and saying, "I'll shoot you in the face. This isn't a joke." The robber has, as far as we know, escaped capture. He joins a list of bank robbers on Long Island who've used unusual disguises to avoid identification, including a Lindenhurst man who in 2007 robbed two banks within three hours dressed as a woman.

In December 2012, Jared Gurman of Williston Park
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

In December 2012, Jared Gurman of Williston Park shot and wounded his girlfriend Jessica Gelderman in the back after a heated discussion provoked by the television series, "The Walking Dead." Gurman's lawyer said the .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle discharged accidentally. Gelderman claimed, "I love him more than anything... I just want things to go back to the way they were." Gurman pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted assault and was issued a 3 1/2-year sentence. Here, Gurman is seen leaving court in Mineola after receiving his sentence on Feb. 6, 2014.

Manuel Carranza, a New Cassel man with no
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Manuel Carranza, a New Cassel man with no formal medical training, ran an illegal dental practice out of his home for 18 months. Carranza operated a cash-only business, used second-hand instruments, and melted gold jewelry into fillings. He had been living illegally in the United States for 11 years before his arrest in April 2012. Seen here are dental tools confiscated by the police from his home. Carranza was sentenced to 6 months in prison.

As part of an attempted insurance scam in
Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

As part of an attempted insurance scam in July 2012, Raymond Roth of Massapequa faked his own drowning at Jones Beach before driving to his timeshare in Florida. Rescuers searched Jones Beach for more than four days. Roth plead guilty to a conspiracy charge and was sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison and ordered to repay the $36,555.37 incurred for the search and rescue efforts. Roth's son Jonathan, who had called police and instigated the search, was given a 1-year sentence for his role in the scam.

On Nov. 13, 1974, six members of the
Photo Credit: Newsday

On Nov. 13, 1974, six members of the DeFeo family -- Ronald Sr., 43, his wife, Louise, 42, and their children, Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Mark, 11, and John, 9 -- were found dead in their Amityville home. The DeFeo's oldest child, Ronald Jr., then 23, eventually confessed to the killings. He was given six sentences of 25 years to life -- one for each murder -- which he is serving concurrently in an upstate prison. The events, as well as alleged hauntings reported by the next residents of the so-called "Amityville Horror" house, have inspired several works of fiction, including the famous movie of the same name.


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