Love is a Risk True Crime Short Story by E.W. Count
Love is a Risk
by E.W. Count
Page 3 of 5
On December 5, 1988, police at last took the missing persons report
from Gerald and Helen, and began a real investigation. But a time
lapse is always an investigative handicap, especially when a crime
happens unobtrusively. Someone who had noticed the sudden departure of
Rosemary and her mother, but thought little of it in September, would
likely have trouble recalling details almost three months later. In a
pattern that would repeat itself, the detectives made some progress
but then hit a wall.
Upset and impatient, the Vasquez family had consulted a PI and a
psychic, before retaining Cadieux. They wanted to follow up on the
psychic's advice that the bodies were in a marsh. Cadieux had no
problem with that. "If my daughter was missing," he said, "I'd try
anything, too." Even the police now went along, diligently searching
the nearest marshland, but it was impossibly wet -- a body wouldn't
even stay buried.
Then Cadieux followed Lifrieri through Brooklyn, noting the
subject's many stops at businesses where he went in and came out in
less than a minute, always empty-handed. With a thirty-second spiel,
tops, Lifrieri wasn't exactly selling coffee -- nor any other
legitimate product or service.
On Wednesday afternoon, July 5, 1989, Cadieux watched covertly as
Lifrieri came home, then approached Lifrieri's door and rang the bell.
The suspect was not about to open the door.
"I'm not a cop," Cadieux recalls telling the door,
"I'm a private investigator, you can talk to me."
"Why do you want to speak to me?" Lifrieri asked, through the door
now partly open.
"Do you know Rosemary Vasquez and Rose Santoro?"
"Yes, but I don't know why you want to talk to me about them."
"I'm working for the family," Cadieux stated the obvious, and
wondered aloud whether he might be expected to question people at
random. "How did you know them," he continued, "and what kind of
realationship did you have?"
"I was friends with Rosemary. Her father introduced me to her
seven years ago. I know her father, Jerry, fifteen years."
"Was Rosemary your girlfriend?"
"No, we were just friends."
"When did you see Rosemary or her mother, Rose, last?"
"Sometime in early August of last year."
"Do you know where they are," asked Cadieux, "or if something has
happened to them?"
"I have no idea," Lifrieri protested. "The police questioned me
about them. I told them the same thing -- that I know nothing about
them or where they might be."
Cadieux asked about another woman, whom Lifrieri admitted was his
longtime girlfriend, and then the PI changed the focus, "Did you ever
borrow $40,000 from Rosemary and her mother?"
"No, I didn't. In 1987, I owed her $15,000. I paid her $15,000 and
"Where did you get the money to pay Rosemary?"
Lifrieri said he had sold assets, to satisfy an IRS bill.
"Did you ever sign a note for a $40,000 loan?"
"Absolutely not," said the man Rosemary had loved. The only man
her mother had trusted with her cherished daughter was lying to a PI
about the loan to him of their life savings.
"Did the police ask you to take a lie detector test?"
"I offered to take one," Lifrieri announced, "but changed my mind,
because I didn't like the way the police were handling everything."
"Would you take a lie detector test if I could set one up?" asked
Cadieux. "Nothing to do with the police."
"No, not after the way I've been treated."
"Did you give Rosemary checks for $29,000 and $20,800?"
Lifrieri admitted he had -- the checks were for "some condo
deal... I know they bounced," he admitted. "They weren't supposed to
be cashed or deposited. I was pissed off that she put those checks
Cadieux was understanding. "Did you think they were trying to pull
a fast one on you?"
"Yes," Lifrieri said, "I did."
"Did you think they were trying to rip you off?"
"That's exactly what I thought."
"Were you angry at Rosemary?"
"I wouldn't say angry, but I was upset." Cadieux knew Lifrieri had
written a new set of checks and he got Lifrieri to confirm it. "They
were for the same condo deal -- not for deposit."
"If you were upset about the first two checks," Cadieux wondered,
"why did you give them more checks?"
"I felt sorry for them. I wanted to help them out."
"You thought they were trying to rip you off -- why would you want
to help them?"
"That's it, I'm done," snapped Lifrieri. "If anyone wants to ask
questions, they can do it through my attorney."
Cadieux had kept Lifrieri talking for forty minutes on his
doorstep, catching him out several times. The PI knew the cops had
asked Lifrieri what happened to the Cadillac Fleetwood registered in
his name; Lifrieri had told them he "sold it to some Spanish guys on
the street." He told Cadieux he sold the car for junk.
Lifrieri's boss at Blue Chip was under investigation by the state
Waterfront Commission, Cadieux knew, for highjacking goods off the
piers, and by Customs and the DEA for importing Colombian drugs
stashed among huge bags of coffee. Viola's was 'blue chip' coffee, all
right. The boss of the Waterfront Commission cops was Jack Ferguson, a
retired NYPD detective pal of Cadieux. (Detectives frequently remain
in law enforcement after retiring with twenty years of NYPD service.)
Anthony Viola, though not an actual "made guy," was a bona fide
Genovese associate. Lifrieri had to have been thrilled by the mob
connections he had made -- for the big money-making potential. Cadieux
figured Lifrieri saw himself as a loan shark or a coke dealer -- all
he needed was a stake. Say, forty thousand dollars, for openers.
The Daily News story about Rosemary and her mom omitted Lifrieri's
mob connection and the fact that his boss was under investigation.