The cold case "posse" has brought to closure the two oldest cold cases ever to be solved in the State of Florida, and two of the oldest unsolved mysteries in the history of the United States. The cases of Daniel Goldman (1966) and Joseph Dimare (1961) are now closed. The effort continues.
March 28, 1966, Danny Goldman was kidnapped. Taken from his family home in Surfside, Florida by an armed intruder. Danny was never seen again. His case remained an unsolved mystery. Until now.
On December 28, 2021, our volunteer investigation leads to an official closure.
George Defeis, 1966
Daniel Jess Goldman, known as "Danny," was a 17-year-old senior at Miami Beach Senior High in 1966, living with his parents in Surfside. Danny enjoyed working on television sets, learning electronics, and spending time with his girlfriend, Sharon Lloyd. His father, Aaron Goldman, was a successful contractor and builder, while his mother, Sally Goldman, worked as an interior designer and was the daughter of Harry and Jeanette Goodkowsky. The Goodkowskys, who had relocated from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to Miami Beach, founded the first kosher hotel and restaurant in both locations. Danny planned to celebrate his 18th birthday on March 29 and register at the local Selective Service office with his mother.
However, on March 28, 1966, Danny was abducted from his Surfside home by a husky intruder who entered through unlocked sliding glass doors at around 4:30 AM. The kidnapper addressed the Goldmans by their first names, demanding $10,000 in cash. Finding no cash except in Aaron Goldman's wallet, he took Danny and instructed the family to prepare $25,000 for his release at 6 PM that evening, threatening to double the ransom to $50,000 if they failed to comply. The kidnapper's focus on ransom may have limited the parents' response.
"I'm going to hold Danny for security for the money. I wanted $10,000, but with the help I'll need now, it will double. You get up $25,000. If you don't get it for tonight, the price will double tomorrow. I'll call you about 6 or 7 tonight with instructions." The kidnapper never contacted the family, and no exchange took place. Danny was never found, and his kidnappers remain unidentified and at large. Once a top priority for law enforcement, the case was labeled "administratively closed" by 2012, with agencies ceasing efforts to solve it.
Danny Goldman has remained missing, with neither his kidnapper nor any accomplices ever identified or apprehended. Despite once garnering national attention as the "#1 Mystery" for law enforcement agencies, by 2012 the case was officially marked "administratively closed." Agencies ceased efforts to solve the case, and a process of destroying records, losing files, and ignoring evidence unfolded. Unbeknownst to the public, the criminals seemed to be shielded by the system.
In 2012, Danny was absent from all national, state, county, and local databases as a missing person or open case, as if he had never existed and his abduction had never occurred. His mother passed away in February 2012, following his father's death in 2010, with their memories and the crime seemingly fading from history.
In March 2012, a group of Surfside residents, including Anthony Blate, Joseph Graubart, David Graubart, Harvey Lisker, and Paul Novack, took it upon themselves to revive the case and pursue justice. Four of them were Miami Beach High alumni, and three had personally known Danny in Surfside. They believed that a tragedy of this magnitude should not be forgotten and deserved attention, regardless of the cold trail.
Under the leadership of prominent attorney and former Surfside Mayor Paul Novack, the group embarked on an exhaustive review of the case and a tireless search for clues, information, evidence, and answers. Novack personally dedicated thousands of hours and significant financial resources to the challenging task of investigating a cold, abandoned case.
The team uncovered and analyzed previously unknown details, revealing connections to Santo Trafficante, Joe Cacciatore, Meyer Lansky, Jimmy Hoffa, police and court officials, banks controlled by organized crime, and a vast network of criminals, including individuals like Frank Sturgis, who would later gain notoriety as a Watergate burglar. For decades, the system had obscured the truth about numerous major crimes committed by organized crime groups in collaboration with public officials.
The volunteer team uncovered the context and foundations of the crime. In the months leading up to the kidnapping, Aaron Goldman had met with federal agents to discuss the operations of Five Points Bank. As an original board member, he expressed concerns about unsecured loans promoted by the bank's new officers. The volunteers discovered that these loans involved cash and assets flowing to associates of Jimmy Hoffa, Meyer Lansky, and Santo Trafficante, all of whom were locally present, as well as friends of high-ranking government officials.
The investigation also revealed Aaron Goldman's previous position as a board member of Miami National Bank. The board of Five Points Bank was experiencing a takeover similar to what had transpired at Miami National. In 1958, a group representing Jimmy Hoffa, Santo Trafficante, and Meyer Lansky had used Teamsters Central States Pension Fund money to gain control of Miami National Bank. In 1965, a parallel scheme was unfolding at Five Points Bank of Miami. Banks in Miami were utilized by both organized crime and national government agencies as channels for vast, hidden financial transactions.
Although profiting from sales of stock in the banks, Aaron Goldman caused trouble for these particular conspirators and their money laundering pipeline. Cooperation with federal agents and grand juries often came with a steep price, usually, though not always, the life of the informant.
When Miami National Bank was revealed to be supported by loans from the Teamsters Pension Funds, those funds were discreetly replaced by money directed by Meyer Lansky. Lansky's associate, Lou Poller, who managed banks in Miami and some of Lansky's Swiss banking arrangements, ensured that false statements were made to reassure the public that matters were being rectified.
On Thursday, March 24, 1966, the Five Points Bank criminal investigation was presented to a Federal Grand Jury as a racketeering and conspiracy case. By Monday morning, Danny had vanished forever. This was no mere coincidence. Danny's father had been "sentenced" to a lifetime of pain, and Danny's life was taken as retribution for exposing a criminal enterprise.
Following Danny's abduction, 19 federal indictments charged various individuals with bank fraud and related offenses, leading to several convictions. However, the case concluded without ever implicating the higher-ups who controlled the entire operation. As with other related cases, there was a 'ceiling' that shielded those at the top of the hierarchy. This protective barrier, orchestrated by public officials for the benefit of organized crime, played a crucial role in numerous cases.
Five Points Bank was shut down and subsequently taken over by Miami National Bank. Public statements claimed that justice had triumphed. However, Miami National Bank was also under the control of organized crime. One illicit bank was merely absorbed by another, and the "business" of criminal money flow persisted. At the heart of this whirlwind were individuals working to enable the activities of both organized crime and international intrigue.
The volunteer investigation gathered thousands of facts, assembling an intricate puzzle. A detailed timeline spanning several decades was created. Living persons with significant knowledge were identified, located, and interviewed. A crucial DNA sample was obtained, entered into CODIS, and a NAMUS file was opened. Volunteers pinpointed specific physical evidence, including key evidence that led to the kidnapper's identification. The team determined likely involvement, and print matches confirmed it.
Several retired law enforcement professionals of the highest caliber have reviewed the volunteer investigation and work product, and all concur that the case—and many others linked to it—can now be understood. When the volunteer "posse" began, it sought answers to two questions: 1) what happened to Danny Goldman, and 2) why everyone hasn’t known the answer to that first question for nearly five decades. Now, both questions have answers, and much more has been uncovered.
Various schemes and schemers tragically intersected, particularly for Danny and others who did not survive. To fully comprehend and accurately interpret the context of Danny's case, the posse examined numerous other crimes committed before, during, and after 1966. Astonishing connections were found among many cases. The volunteers shared key findings with MDPD, and the Homicide Bureau's Cold Case Unit acknowledged the significance of discovering links among multiple open, cold homicide cases.
The volunteer investigation team found that the intruder who entered the Goldman house on that tragic morning had close ties to organized crime figures—and to the Chief of Detectives and Acting Head of Intelligence at the Sheriff's Office—the very men who quickly assumed control of the kidnapping case. They were both indicted later that year along with other officials on various criminal charges but went free without ever standing trial due to defectively worded indictments. It's believed the defects were intentionally embedded, sabotaging the cases in a system riddled with corruption. Organized crime, shielded by compromised public officials, was able to manipulate all aspects of the system, including courts and law enforcement agencies.
Two infamous burglars, Joe Cacciatore and George Defeis, were involved in Danny's demise. They shared the same general physical description, car, supposed "wife" (Shirley Mason), apartment, and "jobs." George Defeis took Danny from the house, acting as the kidnapper, while Joe Cacciatore participated in the crime. Both Defeis and Cacciatore were affiliated with the Trafficante organization. Cacciatore was Trafficante's first cousin, and Defeis was involved in Trafficante activities over the years, from burglaries to cocaine to counterfeit cash to the murder of a retired police official. His dual role as an informant seemingly helped keep him out of prison, and higher-ups remained untouchable. The involvement of top-level organized crime bosses in activities related to national security agencies "immunized" or "protected" them from the "criminal justice system."
Defeis is implicated in Danny's case by circumstantial evidence, contextual information, eyewitness descriptions, and physical evidence. The physical evidence findings include fingerprints identified by the volunteer team and county police forensic experts. George Defeis entered through the Goldmans' rear sliding glass door and left through the front door with Danny. The volunteers urged a modern review of the latent print images from the crime scene, using comparison prints of suspects identified by the volunteers' investigation. The volunteers brought together officially stored prints from various agencies and those from the sliding glass door. A police forensic latents examiner determined a match in 2013. George Defeis left his fingerprint on the Goldman's rear sliding glass door on March 28, 1966. In 2021, the images of the 1966 print and available samples showed similarities but did not certify the match by current standards.
The volunteer investigators also found that Cacciatore had an apartment just 2 1/2 blocks away from where Danny's car was abandoned after the kidnapping (see the video). This location could have been where Danny was murdered. The building still exists today, nearly identical to how it appeared 50 years ago. Danny was kidnapped from Surfside and murdered nearby in Miami Beach. According to documented information provided by criminal associates of those involved, Danny's body was taken to Maule Lake Marina in North Miami Beach, placed onto Wally Jefferson's boat (the "Ponderosa"), taken out through the Haulover Inlet to the Gulf Stream, dismembered, and thrown overboard.
In addition to Defeis and Cacciatore, others played various roles in the murder conspiracy. Wally Jefferson (former Miami Police motorman turned bail bondsman), Charles Lloyd (former bootlegger), and David Helman (Acting Chief of Intelligence for the Dade County Sheriff’s Department) were involved. Career criminals like John Newsome and Robert Landry were also part of the scenario. Top levels of organized crime knew how to use people like these as tools to achieve objectives, including homicide.
Sharon Lloyd (later known as Sharon Jefferson, then as Sharon Ramos) delivered bagels daily to investigators at the Goldman house after the kidnapping. She has refused to share her own knowledge with the volunteers and has not taken a polygraph for the police.
Mrs. Ramos should cooperate with the volunteers while the opportunity exists. In 1966, she was Danny's girlfriend, Charlie Lloyd's daughter, became friends and partners with Bob Landry and John Newsome, and started dating and soon married Wally Jefferson. Jefferson died a few years later, reportedly from liver disease brought on by alcoholism. Many things have happened since then. The invitation to Sharon is to participate, and full immunity for full cooperation should be on the table.
Long-standing allowances and conflicts within the system have helped to conceal specific historic crimes, protect certain criminals, disseminate misleading information, and make records and evidence deteriorate or disappear. Victims' families and the entire community have often been misled and disrespected.
There are others, some deceased, some alive, who have also evaded exposure and conviction. For most of the living, the statute of limitations on their crimes has passed. They are free to cooperate with the volunteers, with no possibility of future prosecution.
An essential part of Florida history has been unearthed due to the effort to find out what happened to Danny Goldman. Danny was the target and victim of an organized crime contract murder, carried out by tools of the highest levels of OC acting through minions, who struck, got retribution, and sent a message. OC's connections in official positions helped to cover the tracks. Officially, for several decades, there have been no arrests, no prosecutions, no convictions, and essentially, no clue about what happened to Danny Goldman. That is all different now. Finally, we all know what happened and why, to Danny Goldman. Rest in peace.
The historic 1966 Daniel Jess Goldman kidnapping case was solved and officially closed thanks to the efforts of MDPD Homicide Bureau, MDPD's Cold Case Unit, the Surfside Police Department, the civilian cold case investigation volunteer team of Paul Novack, Anthony Blate, Harvey Lisker, Joseph Graubart, David Graubart, with information obtained from other federal, state, and local agencies, and with the participation of retired law enforcement personnel including Sgt. Robert Hoelscher (MDPD), Sgt. Robert James (MDPD), Capt. Marshal Frank (MDPD), Chief Terrill Williamson (SPD), and Chief Larry Boemler (SPD). The volunteer team expresses their appreciation to all of the law enforcement personnel involved in closing the case, to Danny's friends, neighbors, and family members who encouraged the efforts, and to the community for remembering Danny and the importance of his case.
The linked deaths pages are essential reading. The discovery of numerous interconnected deaths is one of the most startling and unexpected revelations throughout the entire investigation. A web of hidden connections among various homicides has been uncovered.
“We appreciate all of the kindness
people have shown and wish to express our thanks. We also hope that if
enough interest is kept alive, someone, somewhere might hear or see
something that might be of help to us”.
" ``Justice, Justice you shall
pursue`` Deuteronomy 16:11. Why is the noun repeated? So that we may
commit to ``pursuing`` justice, even when it is elusive, and never give
Paul... Kol HaKavod! Good job. You and your volunteers should celebrate your achievement. We are proud of you."
“First and foremost, I want to thank you on behalf of the Goldman Family for your tireless effort in closing the disappearance of our cousin Danny. We truly appreciated the unselfish work of your team. Forever grateful.”
“This courageous work has been incredible and much appreciated.”
“The Goldman family wishes to
express their deepest appreciation and sincere gratitude to this
dedicated group of civic leaders who have worked tirelessly to reopen
the case of the horrific kidnapping of our cousin, Danny Jess Goldman.
For 47 years our family has lived with not knowing what happened to
Danny. While most of us were too young to remember our cousin, we do
remember him with much affection. Sadly, our aunt and uncle have passed
away and never had closure with this terrible family tragedy. Hopefully
some final conclusion can be discovered and we can close this sad
chapter in our family’s history.”