NEW YORK (CBS) The Cape Cod beach town of Falmouth seemed like a lovely place to visit. But those who lived there year-round knew its other, darker side. Local businessman and infamous bully Melvin Reine had started setting the homes of his so-called enemies on fire.
Few of his victims--or even the police--ever dared to implicate him. They were afraid they would pay the price.
In WHEN EVIL RULES, Michele McPhee delivers an account of terror, corruption, and all out fear in an all-American town on the Cape.
For nearly four decades, Melvin Reine terrorized a small town in Cape Cod with brutal threats, arson, and possibly murder. Reine is believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least three members of the Falmouth community.
He has never been charged with any of these killings. In 2001, after an altercation outside of a convenience store, Reine was sent to the state psychiatric hospital for evaluation. His mental functioning was declared significantly impaired, and he was sent to Taunton State Hospital's facility for the criminally insane, where he remains today.
Melvin's second wife, Shirley, was murdered in 2005, while she was involved in a legal battle with her stepsons over ownership of Melvin's property. Police are investigating who ordered the hit.
Michele McPhee draws a frightening portrait of what can happen to a town when evil rules.
Interview with Michele McPhee by Barry Leibowitz, Senior Writer at 48 Hours | Mystery
What drew you to this story?
McPhee: A woman is found shot dead in her own garage weeks before she was being dragged into court by her own stepsons, over control of her alleged gangster husband's $2 million trash hauling business? That would draw any crime reporter in. Then there's the fact that the gangster's first wife vanished -- which meant that the dead second wife was the family babysitter when the first wife went missing. In fact there are all kinds of strange disappearances and decomposing corpses around this particular gangster, Melvin Reine Sr., who calls himself the Falmouth Fox.
And the Falmouth Fox was so brazen he affixed a fox to the roof of his home to taunt the cops. One of those cops was shot in the face, allegedly by the Falmouth Fox. There was just so much here - all set to the backdrop of Falmouth, Cape Cod - the gateway to the playgrounds of the beautiful people on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
What's the most surprising aspect of the story that you uncovered?
McPhee:The fact that the Falmouth Police Department was so corrupted that when one its cops, John Busby, was shot in the face the Falmouth Fox was fingered as the gunman -- but he was never questioned. Not once. When an entire town can be poisoned by corruption, it is frightening. That's what happened in Falmouth with Reine.
Can you recount the litany of alleged crimes involving Melvin Reine Sr.
McPhee:Arson. The unexplained disappearance of his first wife Wanda. The slaying of a teenage boy who had a crush on his second wife, Shirley. Another teen who was going to testify against him never disembarked from the Martha's Vineyard ferry after he was put on it to get away from Reine. He attacked a tourist and mashed her car. The shooting of Falmouth Police Officer John Busby.
Do you think this story is unique to a small town?
McPhee:Yes. It's much easier to get a small police force to fall in line with a corrupt boss. Much easier to scare the hell out of residents of a small town. Much easier to get away with arson and assault when people are afraid of you.
What's the latest in the Shirley Reine murder case?
McPhee:No arrests have been made. Her husband is in a psychiatric hospital. Her stepson Todd Reine is in jail for breaking into Shirley Reine's home.
Is there a hero?
McPhee:Yes. Police officers like Falmouth cop Rick Smith who crusaded against corruption. And of course Officer John Busby for taking on the Falmouth Fox.
What question should Crimesider have asked you...and what's the answer?
McPhee: Question... Should there be a movie about the Falmouth Fox? Answer... YES.
About the Author
Michele R. McPhee is the author of the bestselling true crime book, Mob Over Miami. The former Police Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News, she was also the courts and crime reporter for the Boston Herald. She also hosts a nightly radio program, The Michele McPhee Show, and lives in Boston, Massachusetts.