Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blue Wall of Silence (UPDATED II)

Since early Sunday, according to authorities, the bodies of 40 year-old NYPD officer Fred Maselli and his 18 year-old girlfriend, Shirley Fontanez, have been lying in Maselli's apartment in the Bronx. Maselli, a 7-year veteran of the force, shot Fontanez 5 times before joining her in eternal rest with a bullet to his own brain. It appears that he used his own, private weapon and not his service weapon. While many people will raise their eyebrows at the fact that a 40 year-old father of two (by two different women) was dating an 18 year-old (accounts differ on the young mother's age [she has a 3 year-old child], so I am going with the New York Times), the history of the relationship is the shocking part. The pair have been dating for two years, meaning they have been together since Fontanez was 16 years old, a year below the legal age of consent in New York State. So it seems that Maselli was just good at keeping his relationships with underage girls a secret, right? Not so. According to Fontanez's mother, 40 year-old Maria Espinoza, Fontanez would go to the precinct with Maselli and everyone there knew about the illicit relationship. What is more mind-boggling is that Fontanez, again according to her mother, dated another cop from the same precinct before even meeting Maselli.

So here is my question: what the hell was Maselli doing with a 16 year-old girl? And even more important, what the hell was any ranking officer in the 34th Precinct doing when he would parade her through the halls? What's even more disturbing is the fact that Maselli allegedly physically abused the woman, as Espinoza said that her daughter would come back with bruises on her arms and back. What do you do in a situation like that? You think that the boys in blue over at the 34th Precinct are going to turn on their buddy if some girl he's been dating comes in to file a report? While it is unclear whether the mother provided any guidance to her daughter about her relationship, a friend of the victim's, identified as Monica Pinedu, had the sense to urge Fontanez to leave the cop, but Fontanez simply replied she could not, "Because he will kill me." A friend and neighbor of Maselli, Izzy Marcus, also 40, said that recently the stress of the job seemed to be getting to Maselli. Marcus, who seems to have a penchant to talk to the press as he is quoted differently in different articles, insinuates that Maselli might have had a thing for young girls. "'I thought he had a really good relationship with this one,' Marcus said." "This one"? How many were there?

So this seems to indicate a failure on many fronts for those in charge over at the Washington Heights' 34th Precinct. If, as Fontanez's mother alleges, her underage daughter was seen regularly at the precinct and that Maselli's colleagues knew of the illegal relationship - with one even having been in a relationship with the girl himself - then why was no action taken? It is third degree rape when "the perpetrator is over 21 years old and the victim is under 17." If any ranking officer knew about this relationship and did nothing about it, I hope they realize the gravity of their inaction. Additionally, if the stress of the job was getting to Maselli, as his oft-quoted friend Izzy Marcus alleges, then why was no counseling offered to him by the NYPD? If Maselli opened up to Marcus about it, then someone in the precinct must have known. There is no doubt that the Commanding Officer of Maselli's precinct, Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, will have some difficult questions to answer. Peace.

UPDATE (7/25/07): Gothamist today pointed out that there is a new twist in the case involving the murder-suicide of Shirley Fontanez and her "boyfriend" (it's in quotes because apparently she had been trying to break up with the extremely jealous cop for weeks) cop Fred Maselli. It seems that the two were running a check-cashing scam at the Paterson, New Jersey Rivera Check Cashing store. Maselli apparently supplied Fontanez with stolen checks and she would cash them at her work. Well the gig was up, because after Fontanez and Maselli got up to $70,000 from their plan, Fontanez's manager caught the girl in the act on surveillance video and had her arrested and fired her. According to friends and family, Fontanez was going to turn state's evidence and accept a plea deal, all the while trying to break up with Maselli. So, again, kudos to those in charge of evidence over at the 34th Precinct who noticed $70,000 worth of stolen checks missing. One plea that I think will be repeated (hopefully) by many: Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, please get your precinct house in order. Peace.

UPDATE (7/26/07): According to the New York Daily News, it is possible that this is not the first time that NYPD officer Fred Maselli has killed. According to an unnamed police source, detectives going through Maselli's apartment found a suicide note dated 2004 indicating that he was going to kill his then-girlfriend and then himself because he did not have the balls to go to prison for what he would have done. Apparently the note had ramblings about how he should have just killed the then-girlfriend's lover (I know, I don't know how someone could cheat on such a good boyfriend) instead of killing his then-girlfriend and himself. So now cops are looking into whether Maselli went through with his threat to kill the lover of the then-girlfriend. It's nice to know that the 34th Precinct was aware of what was going on and tried to get some help for an obviously deranged individual. Peace.

Photo - Shirley Fontanez (nydailynews.com)

6 comments:

  1. Is the pic of Maselli?

    Because of the age difference it shouldn't have happpened, but if she had been 20 or 30 or 40 - it could have turned out the same.

    I think the age observation (it's glaring in our faces) is good though because for Shirley's life that COULD have been the point of intervention and she might still be here. Just maybe.

    MAYBE he would have just killed himself, or even better, been forced to get some help.

    HOW DARE HE!!! (GRRRRRR.) Makes me so mad-sad. Too many stolen lives and broken lives.

    Cloud Writer

    BLOG: BEHIND THE BLUE WALL
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    VIDEO: Officer-Involved Domestic Fatalities - Vol. 1
    http://www.youtube.com/v/mg3uDbVjUQw

    VIDEO: Officer-Involved Domestic Fatalities - Vol. 2
    http://www.youtube.com/v/xADMWoLILKM

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    NEWS ARCHIVE OF NATIONAL CASES:
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    POLICEDOMESTICVIOLENCE.COM (GENERAL INFO SITE that needs updating)
    http://www.policedomesticviolence.com/

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  2. Ah, I see the pic note at the bottom now.

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  3. I agree. The saddest part of this whole thing is the fact that it was so preventable. As more and more details come out, it seems that there was ample opportunity for someone to step in and get this twisted guy some help. He was let down by his superiors and fellow officers when they did nothing to help him when it had to be relatively obvious that the man had some serious issues.

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  4. I thank the Ny post for everything they done. Unfortunely, My friend was killed and until today nothing has been done. Even though he killed him self. My friend was a great person. I believe that there's more people in back of this and there are out there lose, Cheering for what they believe its victory. Well I want to say that I believe in JUSTICE and they will pay soon OR later. No one can't scape from god No one.

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  5. Hello Justice 4 All:

    I don't quite understand what your comment is supposed to mean. I understand that Shirley Fontanez was not the only one who died in this tragedy, but the focus on Shirley Fontanez arises from the fact that she was a victim here.

    One could say that Maselli was a victim as well, but he also pushed himself into this situation. As I said in an earlier comment, he was certainly failed by those around him who did not urge him to get help. At the same time he should have known that dating an underage girl and employing her into a check cashing scheme was only going to lead to bad news.

    As far as the bit about other people being behind this, it seems that Maselli did this himself and had a history of acting like this. As much as people would like to blame this tragedy on someone/something else, the facts say otherwise.

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