Miami’s Cold Case Volunteers Have Delved Into the Murder of Joseph DiMare
Joseph J. DiMare, 52, was a successful businessman and partner in a family owned food processing corporation. DiMare had lived on Miami Beach and then moved to Keystone Island in North Miami. On March 24, 1961 his body was found in the passenger seat of his Cadillac Fleetwood in nearby Sans Souci Estates, a largely undeveloped residential area adjacent to the Keystone Islands. DiMare’s wife Frances ran into a nearby gas station and police were called. Frances DiMare’s account of what had happened was accepted by the police, and was published by the media. These news articles reflect her story:
No one was ever arrested or prosecuted for the murder of Joseph DiMare. In 2015, the victim’s youngest son asked us to have a close look at the case. We had previously identified this murder as having concerning connections to others.
We have found and carefully looked into all available pieces of information and moved the investigation forward despite the system being completely disinterested in doing likewise. Family has been told for 6 decades that there is no evidence and there is nothing that can be done. Police officials have been critical of family members for showing persistence and continuously seeking answers; the victim’s son in particular has been labeled a problem because he has made it known that county police have been disingenuous in misleading him and failing to earnestly work the case for many years.
In charge of the investigation in 1961 was then Chief of Detectives (later Sheriff) T.A. Buchanan and Homicide Captain (later Chief of Detectives) Manson Hill. They were the same lead officials in the case of Danny Goldman in 1966 and many other cases on the “Linked Deaths” page on this site. Both faced indictments of their own in 1966. They were protected because of their knowledge of the corrupt food chain, they were never brought to trial or convicted.
Although the victim’s widow, Frances DiMare, gave a story that was acceptable to upper level police officials, we have seen ample reason to conclude otherwise.
Here is our summary and comparison of statements and evidence in the case.
STATEMENTS OF FRANCES DIMARE
Multiple news reports repeated Frances’ assertion that she and her husband had left their nearby home to go to dinner; she was driving and he was in the passenger seat. The stopped at an intersection, at a red light, and two men jumped into the Cadillac Fleetwood sedan. One of the men pushed a pistol to the back of her head and forced her to drive into an empty lot in Sans Souci Estates. When her husband looked back he was smashed in the face with a pistol butt. She screamed and was knocked unconscious.
Reported by Miami Herald, she said that the gunmen ripped off her jewelry. When she disobeyed an order not to turn around, one of the bandits in the back seat hit her with his pistol and knocked her out. When she came to several minutes later, she said the attackers had fled and her husband was slumped against the car door, blood flowing from his head. In a moment of panic, she said she raced through the brambles, bushes and over large, sharp rocks to a nearby service station from where police were called.
According to the Herald, Frances “said the gunmen beat her with his pistol when she became hysterical as they sought to strip her of her jewelry. She lost consciousness and when she came to found her husband had been shot.”
Another Herald article reported that Frances got to the gas station and told Norman Logan, son of the owner, that “two men had gotten into the car, one in the back, one in the front. The man in the back told him not to turn around but he did and the guy hit him on the head.”
Frances gave an “exclusive interview” to the Herald and explained: “When we reached the Causeway-Bayshore intersection, two men jumped into the back seat. I didn’t see where they came from. There was a car behind us, but none was coming up or down the Causeway. I was driving and one of the men held a pistol and told me to do exactly as he said. He told me to drive straight ahead – to the Sans Souci Estates. He ordered me to take a right hand turn off Bayshore Drive, after about a block. My husband asked the men what they wanted. One of them answered that they want his money. They told us to keep our heads to the front, but Joe kept looking back at them, trying to struggle with them. He turned once and one of them smashed him in the face. He turned I to me and said “I’m bleeding”. Then he turned back again and they hit him again. That’s when I started screaming. They hit me twice – seemed to know just where to hit because it knocked me out the second time. The next I remember I was lying outside the car on the gravel. They’d taken all my jewelry – about $5,000 worth. Joe was carrying about $400 cash on him, and I learned they got that, too. I’m confident the men were not amateurs. They were calm and methodical. I never got a good look at them, but they didn’t talk like hoodlums. They didn’t talk like college educated men, either. I kept thinking it was a terrible mistake, they men called my husband Frank instead of Joe for some reason. I think that either they mistook Joe for someone else, or they just wanted to rob us. I don’t think they were trying to kill us.”
The murder weapon was a .25 caliber Sata, an Italian auto pistol, owned by and registered to Frances Dimare. Casings and projectiles in the car and in Mr. Dimare’s head matched a casing and projectile previously fired from that weapon by Mr. Dimare’s son, who had kept them.
Ammunition of the same caliber was found, right after the murder, in the glove compartment of Frances Dimare’s Cadillac convertible which was parked back at the house in Keystone.
Mr. DiMare was in the front passenger seat. Frances DiMare was in the driver’s seat, a few feet to the left of the victim.
Mr. DiMare was hit by four .25 bullets. Two wounds were to the areas immediately in front of and behind his left ear. Those shots were fired at very close range from the left towards the right. Two other wounds were fired from the front, into the mouth. The shot to the rear of the victim’s left ear was fired after the victim’s head came to rest against the passenger side front seat window. The shot to the front of the left ear did the most incapacitating damage to the brain. It was a through and through wound to the temple from left to right.
There were nine abrasions or contusions on the victim’s head.
The victim had contusions on his left arm and right index finger.
Blood was found on the front seat, on the back seat, and on the exterior of the car from flowing down the window and out of the door bottom.
Blood ran out the door at the bottom of the car and streaks of blood were swept backward as the car moved forward through the brush at the Sans Souci undeveloped lot. The car was not stopped and stationary at the time of the shooting. The blood flow was substantial, reflecting the severity of the wounds and the time involved following the shots.
Blood was not found in the victim’s lungs. A faint redness was found on the victim’s jaw. These findings could indicate that an arm was around the victim’s neck when he was shot, closing off the airway. Alternatively, the killing shot could have caused an immediate cessation of respiration.
The victim’s gold ring and diamond cufflinks were not taken from him, he was wearing them when found in the car.
Two men were fishing about 200 yards to the east of where the car was found. They heard nothing, no shots, no commotion.
Frances had no cuts on her feet. Her shoes were found near the car.
When a female deputy was later asked to remove her shoes and run through the course that Frances said she had used to get from the car to the gas station, the deputy’s feet were cut and bruised in numerous places.
The first person that Frances spoke to at the gas station was Norman Logan; according to Logan, “she never once said he (her husband) was shot”.
Patrolman Ben Scola was the first officer on the scene. “I saw her at the gas station. She didn’t look too messed up. There were some scratches on her face and some specs of blood on her dress. The scratches looked as though she had made them herself by running her hands down her face. She was either knocked out or unconscious somehow, she did not see the shooting.
Joseph and Frances DiMare were married for 2 ½ years when he died. He had made a will, then had it changed after she had left their home a few times to return to her step parents in Martins Ferry, Ohio. The latest will left half his estate to his wife and half to his children, but the wife’s half was made contingent upon her living with him in their home at the time of his death. Once that change was made, she returned from Ohio to the Keystone Point house.
The murder occurred on March 24. Mr. DiMare was in Boston between March 19 and March 23, to meet with his brothers, his business partners, about his intention to divorce Frances; his brothers wanted to insure that she was removed from any wills and/or business documents to prevent a disgruntled former wife from ever becoming a partner.
Former Florida Governor Warren Fuller was “advising the family” and said the DiMares were “a devoted couple”. Fuller’s campaigns were funded by organized crime and he used his authority as Governor to put certain gamblers out of business to clear the way for his backers to take over their operations.
At the time of the murder, Frances was suspected to have had a relationship with Irving Irwin, a hairdresser with a shop in North Miami. Irwin was considered a potential chief suspect as an accomplice to Frances.
On the day of the funeral, Irwin, a hairdresser, came to the DiMare house to help prepare Frances for the day. While he was doing her hair, Richard DiMare looked down at Frances to see her scratches and bruises; there were none.
When Frances dressed in one of the bedrooms, other relatives noticed that her feet had no injuries.
After the funeral, family members returned to the Keystone home. As the DiMare kids came to the door, Frances told them that they had 24 hours to get their stuff and leave the home which she said was “all mine now”.
Also in the same small residential neighborhood: Frank Rosenthal, George DeFeis, John Clarence Cook, Joe Fischetti, Joe Kant, Paul and Delores Costello, Tony Spilotro, Bobby Greenwood.
Records indicate that Frances was involved with attorney William Chester for at least a year prior to the murder.
After the murder, Chester represented her in probate proceedings seeking her share of the estate. Frances and William then married and moved to Palm Beach County. They later divorced but continued to be investment and business partners after their divorce.
Chester represented one of the killers of Judge and Mrs. Chillingworth; their brutal murder occurred in 1955 and the case went to trial in 1961 – starting just two weeks before the DiMare murder. Chester sought a reward after his own client pled guilty to his role in the case. The Court denied Chester’s demand for a reward and questioned the ethics of the request.
Judge Chillingworth was likely targeted for his opposition to gambling and gamblers, despite the story about Judge Joe Peel having Chillingworth killed solely for his own career and personal reasons. We believe that the Chillingworth prosecution and defense were managed such as to prevent exposure of anyone higher up the chain than Peel. The horrible death of Judge Chillingworth and his wife sent a chilling message throughout the judiciary of the State of Florida.
In 1964 Irving Irwin died in his home. His death was considered a heart attack, natural causes. He was 43. Allegedly he had been under the care of a physician for heart disease for a year, and was seen a month before his death for “angina”. An officer arrived at the home and spoke with the doctor by telephone who said he’d sign the death certificate and there was “no reason to look for anything.” The body was released at the home to a funeral service; no medical examiner investigation, no autopsy, no toxicology.
In 1981, a retired detective who had handled the DiMare case – and gotten close to Frances – recommended a private investigator to the DiMare family. They hired him, but got no new information and no results. The PI was David Helman, former Chief of Intelligence for the Sheriff’s Department, the Sergeant indicted in 1966 for criminal conspiracy and burglary along with Joe “Chicken” Cacciatore, both men also involved in the Danny Goldman kidnapping.
Chester was involved with fraudulent schemes in Palm Beach County in the early 1950’s with Sidney Stein. Sidney Stein was involved with Five Points Bank in the 1960’s, the bank whose dealings led to the kidnapping and murder of Danny Goldman. In the late 1950’s, Chester purchased the law practice of his friend and associated, Joe Peel. Peel’s trial as the alleged “mastermind” of Judge Chillingworth’s murder was underway in Fort Pierce at the time of the murder of Joseph DiMare in North Miami. Chester was quoted in 1992 as saying that “there is no evidence” against Frances.
Family members of Joseph DiMare have long believed otherwise.
So do we.
We believe that the facts of the crime are probably different from the version(s) told by Mrs. DiMare. More likely, Mr. DiMare was murdered in the garage of his home. Frances began the shooting from the driver’s seat. A beating was added to the four .25 shots to complete the job and to support the story that had been prepared. After four shots, the magazine as removed, and the butt of the gun was used to strike Mr. DiMare’s head. The marks on his head from the beating are consistent with the bottom of that particular firearm with its magazine removed.
The killers did not know that DiMare’s son Richard had recently found the gun in a bedroom drawer and fired a round into the pool. He later gave the shell casing and projectile retrieved from the pool to the police; it matched the ammunition found in Mr. DiMare’s head. The killers had used the remaining rounds and then the magazine was removed, and the gun butt was used in the brutal assault upon Mr. DiMare.
From that location it is a 3-4 minute drive to where his body was found in the car. He would have suffered the gunshot wounds, his head resting against the passenger side window. Blood ran down out of the car as it was driven. Frances drove through the brush, parked, got out and walked, then ran up to the gas station, and told her tale.
Medical information indicated that the injuries were probably sustained at 7:15 PM and that death occurred at 7:20 PM.
The victim’s son refused to let the system forget his father’s murder. In the corrupt and deceptive context of crime and law enforcement in Dade County in the 1960’s, the DiMare case was manipulated and derailed like many others. Justice was not attained, and the public was misled. Physical, scientific evidence was set aside. Even now, decades later, officials would prefer to ignore the crime than to acknowledge that the victim’s son was right all along.
The light now put upon the evidence will serve to prevent the planned permanent concealment of facts from being ultimately successful. The volunteer civilian investigation team has released this information accordingly.
The volunteers’ investigation into the kidnapping and disappearance of Danny Goldman has led to significant findings and revelations in numerous other cases, all linked in various ways to the same people and course of events. The context of all of the cases combined enables a new understanding of each individual crime, how this all transpired, and why it was covered up. To see the whole picture, read through the entire site.