Fatal Attraction: Caught In A Trap

Years Of Work Slowly Yield Evidence

From the beginning, federal prosecutor Colm Connolly and his team of investigators thought that Thomas Capano might have something to do with the disappearance of Anne Marie Fahey.

But they had a hard row to hoe. Her body had never been recovered; there were no witnesses and no weapon. So Connolly's team began looking for a paper trail.

The investigators discovered that two days after Fahey had disappeared, Capano had bought a new rug. With this information, they obtained a search warrant for Capano's rented house.

"Tom Capano opened the door in his bathrobe," Connolly remembers of the moment they arrived with the warrant. "And I think he was dismayed to say the least. He looked like he had the wind knocked out of him."

Inside Capano's house, they found tiny spots of blood - which later turned out to be Fahey's - right next to the new rug. This wasn't enough to arrest him, though. They dug up his back yard and found nothing. On a tip, they learned that evidence might be found at the Capano Construction Co. dumpsters. By the time they got there, the dumpsters had been taken to a Wilmington area dump. They spent days digging through this dump and found nothing.

Then investigators found another lead. A man named Joe Riley told them that in 1981 Capano had become obsessed with another woman, Linda Marandola, and had asked him to harass her.

At one point, Riley says, Capano had even talked about killing her. Although Capano had backed out, Connolly saw this as evidence that he might be capable of murder.

But this still wasn't enough. So Connolly began focusing on Capano's inner circle, particularly his brothers. Investigators knew that one brother, Gerry, had been with him the day after Fahey had disappeared. But he refused to testify against his brother out of loyalty.

Then Gerry Capano was arrested for possession of cocaine and illegal guns. Facing a long prison term, he decided to talk. He told police that he had helped his brother take a large cooler containing Fahey's body to his vacation home in nearby New Jersey.

They had taken Gerry Capono's 25-foot fishing boat 60 miles off the Atlantic coast, to a spot known for sharks. There they dumped overboard Fahey's body, which had been crammed into the cooler.

When the cooler wouldn't sink, Gerry Capano shot holes in it, he told police. But the cooler still didn't sink, and so Tom Capano wrapped Fahey's body in chains and let it drop into the ocean. They let the cooler itself drift away.

Investigators finally had enough to arrest Tom Capano. On Nov. 12, 1997, Capano was arrested and charged with murder.

Then two days after Capano was arrested, fisherman Ken Chubb turned the cooler over to the FBI. He had found it July 4, 1996, while fishing 8 miles off the Delaware coast.

Chubb had taken it home and repaired the holes. When a friend saw the news about Capano's arrest, he told Chubb that the cooler might be a key piece of evidence. He clls the discovery of the cooler "a divine intervention."

Using the bar code still on the cooler, police showed that it had been bought by Capano. The prosecutors now had Fahey's blood at Capano's house, his brother's confession and the cooler.

On top of that, Capano's longtime mistress, Debby MacIntyre, admitted that a few weeks before the crime, she had bought, at Capano's request, a .22 caliber pistol, which she then gave to Capano. Police found the receipt.

"This was something he had thought of for months and months," says Connolly. "This was not a one-night, panicky incident. This was a planned murder."

In an attempt to stop MacIntyre from testifying, Tom Capano gave detailed diagrams of her home to another inmate. Prosecutor Wharton says that Capano wanted to scare her. Later, he tried unsuccessfully to hire a hit man to kill her.

At the trial beginning Oct. 26, 1998, Tom Capano tried a risky defense. Against his lawyers' advice, he testified himself, for eight days. He told the jury that although he had disposed of Fahey's body, he had not killed her.

He said that MacIntyre had discovered he and Fahey together, and had tried to commit suicide. In the struggle, Fahey had accidentally been shot and killed.

But the jury wasn't persuaded. Connolly says that the key to the trial was the cooler. "Ferris and I walked it out as if we were walking a coffin out of church," Connolly remembers.

"We laid it in front of the jury," he says. "I think they were shell shocked. I just think it really drove home the impact that somebody had been stuffed unceremoniously into a fish cooler."

In January 1999, the trial ended. After three days of deliberating, the jury convicted Tom Capano of first-degree murder. The jury voted 10-2 for the death penalty. A judge agreed, and Capano is now on death row, awaiting lethal injection.

The Faheys have filed a civil suit against Tom Capano. And Capano has filed a suit against Debbie McIntyre saying if he is responsible for Anne Marie Fahey's death, then so is McIntyre.

July 2002 Update:

Capano's appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied. But his new attorney says there are still other avenues to challenge Capano's conviction and sentence.

In the meantime, the man who once had everthing now spends 23 hours a day alone in a cell on death row.

Prosecutor Colm Connolly, who had spent three years on the case, is now the Delaware US Attorney.

The Fahey family filed a civil suit against Tom Capano and were awarded an undisclosed settlement. Capano filed a suit of his own against Debbie MacIntrye, saying if he's responsible for Anne Marie's death, so is MacIntyre. He later dropped the suit.

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