Authors: Gary Hastings

FORGOTTEN (8 page)

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Chief of Detectives’ Residence

Borough of Manhattan, New York

2100 Hours


at and Maggie stopped at a diner for dinner and enjoyed some eggs and bacon. As best they could determine, they were not being followed. Maggie dropped Pat off at his apartment at 2100 hours. Pat had just sat down at the desk in his study, when his cell phone buzzed.

“Pat O’Connor.”

“Good evening, Chief. Are you back in New York?” Bryan asked.

“Yes, Bryan. I just got back a few minutes ago. Is anything going on?”

“I talked to Lieutenant Wilson and Dickie Davis, and both of them are sure that they didn’t mention your trip to DC to anyone.”

“Unless we’re missing something, the information had to have gotten out through Margaret

“Are you going to call her?”

“Not just yet, Bryan. If her phones are tapped or her house is bugged, we could use that to trap the perps. I need to find out if she told someone without tipping our hand. We can discuss it at the meeting.”

“Sounds good, Chief.  I’ve also invited Sergeant
McBain from the lab to join us in the meeting. He’s had the evidence in the Butelli case examined.”

“Okay. Do you know the results?”

“No. I think George likes the intrigue of us not knowing. He also likes reporting directly to the Chief of D’s.”

“I don’t care what he likes, because he’s incredibly thorough.”

“I agree, Boss, and he knows how to explain the forensic science in English.”

“I’ll see you in the morning, Bryan.”

“Sounds good, I hope you get some rest.”

“You too.”

Pat checked through his emails and voice mails and was amazed at how many had been generated in just two days out of the office. With all the excitement, he hadn’t bothered to use his laptop. He decided to make sure Maggie was safe.


“Hello, Gorgeous. I just wanted to check on you and make sure you got home safely.”

“That’s sweet, Pat. I’m fine.”

“Even with our adventure, I still enjoyed being with you, Maggie.”

“So did I, Pat. I hope Dr. Cooper’s advice will help your investigation.”

“I’m sure it’ll help. We’ll meet in the morning, and I expect this cold case is going to start heating up.”

“Let me know if we can help.”

“I appreciate it, Maggie. You guys have already helped. I hope you get some rest.”

“You too, Sweetheart, and I want you to be very careful, because you know how much I love you.”

“I promise, and I love you too, Maggie.”





Chapter 18



Wednesday, February 2 - Day 15

Major Crimes Conference Room - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

00845 Hours


at was in the office early. He wanted to make a dent in the mounds of paperwork before the 0900 meeting. He always appreciated how Angie Wilson had things organized, which helped him to make the best use of his time. At 0845, Bryan Flannery came into his office.

“Welcome back, Chief.  I trust you got some sleep.”

“I sure did. Thank you, Bryan.  Are we ready for this meeting?”

“Yes sir, everyone should be here by 0900.”

“After the meeting, we should be able to make a decision as to whether this case is worked as a cold case homicide or remains in the unknown or suicide category.”

“What does your gut say?” Bryan asked.

“I think we both know something is just not right with this case.”

“I agree, Chief, and it seems someone doesn’t want us looking into it.”

“It certainly does, and I have a little bomb to drop that I haven’t shared, which may tell us why.”

“I can’t wait.”

Pat poured himself a big mug of his favorite Jamaican coffee. It was one of the few luxuries he splurged on. It seemed to make the stressful days a little more manageable. He grabbed his case files and walked into the Major Crimes Conference Room.

When Pat walked into the room, it was buzzing with chatter. Many of the detectives had worked together before and were catching up. Pat always enjoyed the enthusiasm of a new case. It was an adrenaline rush for detectives to be called into One Police Plaza to the Chief of Detectives for an important investigation.

In the room was Captain Bryan Flannery from Manhattan North Homicide, Detective Karla Adams from the U. S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, Sergeant George McBain from the Crime Scene Unit, Pat’s executive assistant, Lieutenant Angie Wilson, and Detective Dickie Davis. Pat walked to the podium at the front of the conference room. 

“Good morning, everyone. I appreciate your being here.  I think you all know each other, so we’ll skip the introductions.  I’d like get right to the matter at hand. Two weeks ago, I received a visit from Mrs. Margaret
Butelli. She’s the widow of a retired detective, Forrest Butelli, who allegedly committed suicide in Central Park on September 8, 2001. Butelli was a private investigator, who ran a company called Manhattan Investigations. As you all suspect, the widow doesn’t think he killed himself. She raised hell with the NYPD. They paid her little attention, and she finally she gave up.”

Karla Adams spoke up. Karla was a very hard-nosed fugitive investigator. Although she was an NYPD Detective, she was assigned full-time to the U. S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force and was deputized as a federal officer. “Who handled the original case, Chief?”

“A retired detective, Jerry McAllister.”

“What did he think?”

“To be perfectly honest with you, he did very little. He only talked to the wife one time. It’s also important to remember that Butelli was buried on 9/11. After the attacks, there were no NYPD officers at the funeral, and in the confusion following 9/11, little attention was paid to Margaret Butelli’s concerns.  Maybe you can add some more, Bryan.”

“Yes, Chief. There are a lot of issues in the case. No ballistics work was done, and the crime scene photos raise some questions. I can better show you guys on the computer screen rather than just tell you about it.”

Captain Flannery used a projector to display the crime scene photographs on the screen and described the issues regarding lack of powder burns and absence of blood. He explained further; “This scene just doesn’t add up. There was a bullet recovered from the head liner of the car and it’s clear the gunshot was through and through. No tests were performed, but the evidence was still available. I’ve had Sergeant McBain have the lab do some tests. George, can you fill us in?”

“Sure, Captain. It was actually amazing that we still had the gun and the recovered slug. It should have been destroyed by now, but for once we’re lucky. The recovered slug was a perfectly mushroomed 110 grain jacketed hollow-point .38 caliber bullet. I was immediately concerned because
Butelli was carrying a blue steel, model 36, Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special which was loaded with Winchester-Western 158 grain, lead round-nosed cartridges. However, the spent casing was a Federal. I guess it would be possible for Butelli to have put the more powerful Federal cartridge in the revolver, but it’s not the case. I had the Ballistics Section do some test firing, and the recovered hollow-point was not fired from Butelli’s .38. The bullet doesn’t match, and the firing pin mark on the primer is also clearly not a match. The hollow-point was fired from another gun.”

Pat was excited about the ballistics information, and knew the case would proceed from this point as a homicide investigation. Angie Wilson asked a question. “What did the autopsy show?”

Pat answered. “That’s one of the problems. There was no autopsy conducted. The body was cremated very quickly after the Medical Examiner classified it as a suicide. Margaret Butelli said she went to the funeral home, and the body had already been cremated in keeping with pre-death instructions by her husband. The funeral was prepaid with specific instructions. Margaret Butelli had no idea Forrest had made these arrangements or wished to be cremated. Can you tell us about his friends, Dickie?”

“Sure, Chief.  Forrest
Butelli was a friend of OCCB Chief, Ray Capese, and he gave us a list of his closest friends. I talked to all of them, and to a man, they all were shocked by Forrest Butelli’s suicide. Everything looks like things were going well in his life. It was a shocker.”

Dickie. also along those lines, I have an analysis instrument I picked up in Washington, DC, from a Secret Service psychologist that’s used to perform a psychological autopsy in suicide cases. Dickie, I’d like for you to interview each of the friends and family members and complete this instrument. The psychologist will evaluate the completed instruments and give us an indication of Butelli’s likelihood of committing suicide.”

“Yes sir, Chief. I’ll handle it. Do you know what the suicide note said?”

“I’ll defer this question to Captain Flannery.”

“The note is two sentences, Chief. It says, “
I can’t take it anymore. I’m sorry I had to do this. Forrest Butelli
. The note was typed on a plain white sheet of paper.”

“Thanks, Bryan. Get me a copy of it. I want to send a copy to Dr. Cooper, as well.”

“It’s being processed for prints and DNA at the lab, I’ll get you a copy as soon as they’re finished with the processing.” 

“I appreciate it, Bryan. I’ve intentionally withheld some important information until now. This information was brought to me by Margaret
Butelli. I was afraid if we jumped on this too early, we might not be as objective as we should be. I wanted to look for red flags outside of this information. The only persons who know about this are Angie Wilson and Dickie Davis.”

Bryan Flannery spoke up. “We’re all ears. I can’t imagine what this is.”

“When Margaret Butelli was getting ready to sell their house, she found some loose boards in Forrest Butelli’s old home office. She removed the boards and found some files about a case Forrest was working on the week he died. They’re pretty compelling.”

“What kind of case was it, Chief?” Bryan asked.

“A very unusual one. Butelli was hired by an attorney, who wanted to remain anonymous, to look into some possible corruption in the Kings County Court System. Butelli was given a list of cases which had been dismissed by an Assistant District Attorney or dismissed by a judge. All of them involved the law firm of Brewster, Kemp, and Pellegrino. To those of you who worked on the murder of Tony Rodriguez, this is the same attorney, Daniel Pellegrino, who worked for Donald Harrison. There are still outstanding warrants for his arrest for obstruction and being an accessory after-the-fact to murder. I asked Lieutenant Wilson, who is also a lawyer, as most of you know, to check out the cases. I’ll let her tell you what she has found.”

“Thanks, Chief. It seems
Butelli’s list was right on the money. All of the cases were either dismissed by the ADA Franklin Donovan or Judge Robert Fitzpatrick. I think there could be several hundred cases. Pellegrino was the lawyer in all of the cases.”

“Thank you, Angie. I appreciate your using your legal skills for the good guys.”

Everyone in the room laughed, and Dickie Davis made a joke. “You know why God made lawyers don’t you?”

Angie gave a sarcastic smile and replied. “No,
Dickie, but I bet you’re going to tell me.”

“It’s so cops would have someone else to hate besides criminals.”

Pat took a stab also. “In many cases they’re one and the same.”

Everyone laughed, and Pat thought it was a good time for a break.  “Okay, guys, we need to make some assignments and get this ball rolling. Let’s take a short break, and we’ll get on with it.” He looked at Bryan and smiled. “I want you to be the whip on this case, Bryan. Let’s figure out what we need and make some assignments.”

“It’ll be my pleasure to work with you again, Chief.”






Chapter 19



Wednesday, February 2 - Day 15

Major Crimes Conference Room - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

1030 Hours


hen everyone was back in the conference room, Pat once again took the podium. “Most of you have probably heard about our little incident on my way to DC with Maggie Parker of the Secret Service. Anyway, we were being followed by a black Dodge Charger. We tried to stop it, and a pursuit began which was ended by the New Jersey State Police. The perp fired at them with a silenced, 9mm Beretta, and they silenced him for good. The guy is an ex-New York Court Officer, Harry Pittsford, who is now a former resident of Brooklyn. We originally thought Maggie was the target, but the New Jersey State Police found internet photographs of me in the car and some notes about my trip to DC in regards to this case.”

Davis spoke up. “I guess that’s why the Captain was asking if we told anyone about your trip.”

Dickie, that’s the reason and if the three of you didn’t tell anyone, we have another problem. The only other person who knew I was going was Margaret Butelli. If Margaret Butelli didn’t tell anyone, then either her house or her phone has been compromised.”

Bryan Flannery asked the obvious question. “Have you talked to her yet, Chief?”

“No, and there’s a reason for that, Bryan. If her phone is bugged, then we can use that to our advantage to identify possible suspects. However, if they see the police, they’ll know we’re on to them. We have to get to her in a way which doesn’t arouse suspicion and then confirm whether or not she told anyone. Hopefully, with her cooperation, we’ll be able to surreptitiously check her house for eavesdropping devices.”

Bryan Flannery continued. “Why would they want to bug Margaret
Butelli in the first place, Chief?”

“I’m not sure, after all these years, unless they somehow knew she came to the office to see me.”

“Okay, Chief.  I’ll get some tech guys lined up and they can check it out as repairmen or something. How do we get her out of the house in a manner that doesn’t arouse suspicion?”

“I’ll trust your judgment, Bryan, but when you get her, bring her to One PP.”

“With your permission, Chief, I’d like to bring a couple of guys in to help with this case.”

“Sure, tell me who and what you want, and I’ll make it happen.”

“Mary McDonald is in Manhattan North Homicide now. I’d like to use her and a new guy from the Bronx, Mike O’Neil. He’s also somewhat of a computer geek.”

“Get Angie Wilson the names, and we’ll cut orders placing you all on special assignment to the Chief of D’s Office.”

“I’ll take care of it, Chief.”

“Karla, are you still partnered with Wilbur Stone?” Pat asked.

“Joined at the hip, I’m afraid.”

“I’ll have you both assigned to the case, primarily to focus on locating Pellegrino, since he’s still a fugitive.”

“I’m sure Wilbur will be pleased, Chief.”

“Great!  Also we need to start focusing on Judge Fitzpatrick, ADA Donovan and see what Roland Brewster and Arnold Kemp are doing these days. Let’s not spook them yet, but see where they live, if they’re still working and anything else we can dig up. A lot of people will get really nervous when they learn of our interest, so let’s keep it as quiet as possible. Bryan, let’s get Jerry McAllister in and talk to him.”

“Yes sir, Chief.”

“Angie, I want you to work on trying to figure out who the client may have been who hired
Butelli to look at these cases. It has to be someone from another firm who handled cases in Kings County Court.”

“Okay.  Do you have any ideas on where I should start, Chief?”

“There was a cash receipt in Butelli’s files. It’s in a plastic evidence bag now, locked in my office. We should print it just in case someone got sloppy. We should also try the same thing with the list of cases although I admit that I handled it when Margaret Butelli gave it to me.”

“I’ll get started,

“Also, there’s one other annoying thing which may complicate things. The New Jersey JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) has assumed jurisdiction in the case with Harry Pittsford because Maggie is a government official. The FBI has taken over the case from the New
Jersey State Police, but they have yet to contact me. We’ll work it from our end, as well, and hopefully there won’t be any problems.”

Bryan Flannery spoke up, “Do you want us to arrange some protection for you, Chief?”

“No, Bryan. I’ll rely on my two close friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson, times two.”

“Are you sure, Chief?”

“I’m absolutely certain, but thanks, guys. Let’s meet tomorrow afternoon at 1500 and see where we are.  Also guys, watch your backs. There are still a lot of unknowns in this case.”






Chapter 20



Wednesday, February 2 - Day 15

Police Commissioner’s Office - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

1300 Hours


Robert Earl Longstreet had been the Police Commissioner for the City of New York for a little over two years. He and Pat O’Connor were close.  Longstreet always placed a lot of confidence in Pat’s investigative abilities. When the former Chief of Department, Charles Abernathy, had retired, Longstreet offered Pat the top job, but Pat preferred to remain as Chief of Detectives. Roger Conrad, the former Chief of Inspectional Services had taken the position and was forever grateful to Pat O’Connor, who recommended him to Longstreet. Conrad was a career cop and Pat knew him to be honest and fair. Conrad was chubby, with childlike freckles and sandy thinning red hair.

Pat walked into the office and was told by the secretary to go on in to see the commissioner. When he walked into the office, he saw that Roger Conrad was already there with the commissioner. Longstreet stood up when Pat walked in.

“Good afternoon, Patty, how are you?”

“I’m fine, Commissioner.”

Conrad also stood up and shook Pat’s hand. They offered Pat a seat, and he closed the door and sat down beside Conrad in front of the commissioner’s big desk.

“I appreciate your working me in with such a short notice, Commissioner.”

“No problem, Patty. It sounded serious.”

“It could be serious, Commissioner, but at this point we’re just not sure. I was contacted by Margaret
Butelli, the widow of a retired detective, Forrest Butelli. He was a Manhattan detective who opened a PI business. He allegedly committed suicide on September 8, 2001, just a few days before 9/11. The wife thinks he was murdered, and after taking a brief look, there are a lot of issues.”

“What kind of issues, Patty?”

“We did almost no forensics on the case, and now it looks like the gun found in his hand didn’t fire the fatal bullet. There was no autopsy performed, and Butelli was almost immediately cremated. None of the friends or family members thinks he would’ve killed himself including Ray Capese at OCCB.”

“Then why in the hell did they wait so long to bring it up? My God, it’s been over 12 years.”

“They did bring it up, but the NYPD insisted it was a suicide.”

“Who caught the case?” The commissioner asked.

“A detective now retired, Jerry McAllister, but most of the correspondence and responses were from Phil Beck, who was the Manhattan Homicide Commander at the time.”

“Phil Beck is now an Inspector out in Staten Island and is being considered for a bump up to Assistant Chief. Are you sure we need to stir-up this can of worms, Patty?”

“We have no choice, Commissioner. Butelli was working on a sensitive case in the Kings County Court system when he died, and it involves some attorneys including one Daniel Pellegrino.”

“The guy involved in the Rodriguez case?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. It’s the one and the same.”

Pat continued to fill in the commissioner and the chief on the other details of the case including the incident with Maggie. They both offered their support and agreed that Pat was proceeding appropriately.

“Do you think there’ll be any press on this case, Patty?”

“Not if I can help it. It needs to be under the radar screen as long as possible. It seems that the incident with Maggie Parker on our trip to DC was directed at me. They found some pictures of me and notes regarding my activities in the suspect’s Charger.”

“Damn! Keep your head down, we need you, Patty.”

“I’ll do my best.”

“I think we should go ahead and give you a protection detail. We can’t be too careful.”

“I’d rather not, because I don’t want them to know that I realize I was the target. It may help us identify them and make a collar.”

“I disagree, Patty, but I’ll trust your judgment and experience.”

“Thanks, I’ll keep you posted.”





Chapter 21



Wednesday, February 2 - Day 15

Chief of Detectives’ Office - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

1600 Hours


at settled down in his office and signed the order transferring the investigative team to the Chief of Detectives on a temporary basis. He had no idea how long this investigation would take. At 1600 hours his phone rang.

“Pat O’Connor.”

“It’s Flannery, Chief. We have Margaret Butelli with us and are headed back to One PP.”

“Great! How did you do it?” 

“We lucked up and saw her leaving the house. We waited until we were out of her neighborhood and did a car stop after determining she wasn’t being followed.”

“I hope she understands the drama.”

“She’s excited that something is finally happening with her husband’s case.”

“Great! Just come to my office.”

“Will do.”

In 15 minutes, Bryan Flannery and Detective Mary McDonald came into Pat’s office with Margaret
Butelli. Mary was an attractive redhead who had been one of the lead detectives in the Rodriguez case. She was tall and shapely and had proven herself to be a meticulous detective.

Pat stood up and shook hands with Margaret

“Good afternoon, Mrs.
Butelli, I’m sorry we’ve had to inconvenience you.”

“It’s no inconvenience to me, Chief. I’m so pleased you’re looking into Forrest’s death.”

“We share your concerns and also have some questions. When you and I talked earlier, did you tell anyone else about my trip to Washington, DC?”

“Not a soul. My children don’t even know about your work yet.”

“We have reason to believe your home phone or your entire home may be bugged.”

“Oh my goodness! Why would anyone bug me?”

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