Love is a Risk True Crime Short Story by E.W. Count
Love is a Risk
by E.W. Count
Page 1 of 5
E.W. Count is the author of COP TALK: TRUE DETECTIVE STORIES
FROM THE NYPD (Pocket Books), and is the moderator of Prodigy's online
interest group, Cops & Crime. She is working on her third book about
When I met retired Mafia Detective Roland Cadieux, I couldn't tell
a Gambino from a Genovese. Along with a few other NYPD mob mavens I
interviewed, Cadieux made the names, the families, spring to life, in
all their rich, scheming brutality.
The mob does business in every borough of New York City, of
course, and Cadieux chased them all over, but Brooklyn -- full of mob
flavor and history -- seems the quintessential venue. Bensonhurst and
Bath Beach, for instance -- about as far south as you can get in
Brooklyn, short of Coney Island -- are neighborhoods full of warmth,
color, and streets kept clean and safe by fear. Don't mess with the
neighborhood, or you'll hear from mob neighbors, cozy in their private houses.
Brooklyn-born Ron Cadieux, whose French-Canadian name can seem to
the casual observer the most complicated thing about him, worked his
first organized crime case in Brooklyn's 10th Homicide in 1972. With
his partner, Kenny McCabe, Cadieux put the cuffs on the Gambino
godfather, "Big Paul" Castellano, in March, 1984. Both partners know
the silk socks set inside out.
Unfortunately, while Cadieux and McCabe, and the rest of the
federal/city strike force that took down the godfather, were looking
forward to getting him in front of a judge and jury, Gotti's black
coat guys finished off Big Paul instead. Pop pop pop pop pop -- the
hit of the century happened outside Spark's steak house, in the midst
of the evening rush hour.
The money that mobsters live for never has proved bulletproof, not
even for a godfather -- a 'capo'. In the Mafia, according to Cadieux,
ruling hands come with sweaty palms. Once the strike force had amassed
their evidence against Big Paul, they arranged a quiet, gentleman's
arrest at his attorney's midtown Manhattan office. When Ron and Kenny
cuffed him, the capo's palms had been soaking wet.
Cadieux's career full of quality collars notwithstanding,
arresting Big Paul was the high point for the detective, and he
retired after twenty-three years on the job. By then, he could tell
you enough tales of Mafia blood and betrayal to put Scheherezade to
Despite the trenchcoat, Cadieux, a private investigator now, is
hard to stereotype. Tall and polished, he could have been working Wall
Street white-collar crime in the NYPD as easily as murders and
mobsters. Practically speaking, though, he has the kind of
investigative background that La Cosa Nostra lawyers love to hire.
Many respectable PIs accept mob lawyers' fat fees; Cadieux politely
declines. He has enough mob stories, surely -- and plenty of work. He
can even take a time-consuming case for next to nothing, if a good
family needs his help.
When Cadieux met a grieving father named Gerald Vasquez in
mid-1989, the PI felt for him. And, Cadieux was intrigued. A pretty
daughter, a bad guy, a greedy scheme with a familiar whiff of the mob.
Cadieux was the second PI to confront the baffling case. The pretty
thirty-year-old daughter, Rosemary Vasquez, was missing, and so was
her mother, Rose Santoro. Were they murder victims? The official NYPD
position -- missing. Since when? Tuesday, September 14, 1988, according
to one of a handful of clues.
The first time I met him, Cadieux regaled me for hours with Mafia
tales full of money and murder. We were winding down when he spoke of
the startling, sensational find awhile back, in a South Brooklyn
parking lot: a Cadillac with two women's mummified bodies in the
trunk. Corpses in the trunks of cars are a mob signature, but this
discovery of two murdered women was bizarre, even for Brooklyn; I
remembered the media splash.
Cadieux reviewed the reports of a PI who had already worked the
case, and he gumshoed his way over the same territory. An NYPD
insider, Cadieux had an advantage over the first PI -- his colleagues
of the Detective Bureau willingly shared whatever they knew.
Unofficially, the detectives agreed with Ron Cadieux and his client:
the women had died violently, at the hands of a likely suspect. But
opinions, even those of seasoned detectives, have never been accepted
as evidence by a DA, much less in court.
Lacking any hard evidence at all, Cadieux took an unorthodox step
-- he called a reporter. News coverage might jolt someone or something
out of the woodwork, that would help nail the suspected murderer.