The trail was complex and necessitated an understanding of context, including a close look at many other cases. The civilian cold case volunteers’ meticulous investigation of numerous crimes and events resulted in the compilation of a detailed, extensive timeline that provides both a macro and a micro view of the tide of organized crime. The timeline has yet to be made public. So far, we have identified 35 other deaths with commonalities. Of the 35 cases, 17 are officially deemed unsolved and 18 are deemed resolved and closed. Three of the victims were killed with the same firearm; several of the victims faced similarly arranged shootings; all of the cases involved the same association of criminals and corrupt officials. We discovered actual partnerships between high level organized crime figures, ranking members of law enforcement, and the wide array of people and agencies under their control.
Certain key criminals left tracks that tie them to multiple crimes. For example, our findings indicate that George Defeis was involved in the homicides of Danny Goldman, Gertrude Henschel, Estelle Oddo, and Richard Cloud. Despite arrests in various cases involving murder, narcotics, counterfeit cash, theft, and other crimes, Defeis never went to prison. He died of natural causes in North Miami. There are others, some deceased, some alive, who have also evaded public exposure and conviction. For some of the living, the statute of limitations on their crimes has passed. They are now unconstrained and able to cooperate with the volunteers, with no possibility of current or future prosecution.
On this page, cases are identified with victims’ names and dates. Incrementally we are adding details publicly. There are videos both old and new throughout this site, with newly shared personal accounts, along with samples of the dozens of photos and thousands of documents that have been obtained. Looking through all of the materials on line here will provide an overview of the startling findings that are being made.
In all of these 35 cases, we have identified open issues, new leads, and solid connections. The cases considered officially “closed” should not be, as the basis for closing them included inaccurate, inconsistent and corrupted information. Every one of these cases – whether the system considers them “open” or “closed”, were derailed by intentional efforts to spread false information and to thwart justice.
There are people in key official positions today with direct connections to people who ran the system on both sides of the law in the 60’s. Even now in 2019, there are continuing conflicts of interest and personal relationships that work to help keep cases cold, sidetracked, or simply closed. Families of victims know first hand the travesty of how they have been treated for decades, in their efforts to work with a system that is unresponsive and ineffective, at best. All of these cases can be resolved or at least brought into the light of day, and efforts to do that are continuing at this time.
"An amazing job, great work. So many fascinating details coming out after all these years."
"I could never adequately express my appreciation to Paul Novack and the volunteer investigation team. In addition to finding a long lost and loved relative of ours, they have found and shared information about crime and corruption that had been concealed for decades. We understand so much more now about my Uncle, his life, and his death, and our family will be forever grateful for the amazing dedication and hard work that has been so very productive."
"Paul Novack should be teaching Time Lines and Cold Case Investigation at the Academy in Quantico. The findings and success of this effort is amazing."
Members of the Department’s “upper echelon” were involved in multiple forms of corruption. They were managing crimes and criminals out of the Sheriff’s “intelligence office”, and those who either failed to split the proceeds of crime or threatened to talk about the criminal conspiracy were eliminated by set-up shootings. These same high ranking officers took over the Goldman kidnapping investigation from the first day. The organized crime figures who controlled them also dominated other branches of government and official offices, sufficient to control the entire system.
By 1966, the collaboration between law enforcement, burglars, and organized crime had become its own crime wave. However the pressures and threats of the partnership had gotten out of control. High ranking police officials, involved in sharing in the proceeds from particular targets, were concerned that the flow of money could be stopped. The risk of exposure by burglars testifying before grand juries and the perceived increase of crooks withholding more than their allotted share of the loot combined to create a dangerous scenario of retribution and consequences.
Shootings occurred as a means of protecting this major source of cash flow. In several cases with striking similarities, burglars were killed by county Sheriff’s deputies or municipal police officers. Burglars were assigned to do specific thefts or invited to attend a “meeting”. Deputies or officers were waiting – inside – for the burglars to arrive. Often, neither the burglars or the waiting detectives knew that they were both being directed by the same people. Crossing the threshold of doorways, each burglar was blown away – usually by multiple shotgun blasts.
Witness statements and physical evidence were gathered, and then ignored, by the investigating authorities from the same sheriff’s department. Records and statements made at the scenes said that there was no warning at all, that as the burglars entered the door they were promptly killed in an onslaught of gunfire. There is evidence that at least six burglars were killed as part of this manipulation and murder scheme run by ranking law enforcement officials.
Tommy Griffin in 1963 was apparently the first of this series of murders. Then in 1966 as the heat on the system grew, at least five more of these apparently planned events took place, ending the lives of Arthur Dyas, John LaMedica, Alfred McCurdy, Christopher McCary, and Bobby Williams.
Between the deaths caused by members of organized crime, and those caused by members of official agencies, the time period of Danny Goldman’s kidnapping and murder was a dangerous time that left many victims in its wake. It was part and parcel of activities that stretched back into the 1950’s as conspiracies run by Santo Trafficante and Meyer Lansky worked to take control over gambling and other criminal ventures throughout the State of Florida. Five decades later, murders of innocent victims and criminals remain unsolved and officially ignored. There are at least four young people who have been missing without adequate, accurate explanation or answers for decades. The citizens investigation has filled the void and moved all of these cases towards public awareness and honorable resolution.
The extraordinary effort of a small team of volunteers has turned into a historic event in itself. Never before has a private, pro bono, public service, volunteer effort become a huge investigation and exposure of organized crime in Florida, the Mafia, mobsters with many common familial and organizational ties to Brooklyn, to New York City, to Tampa, to Chicago, and of course to Miami. Answers that had been considered eternally elusive have been found by the volunteers and provided to family members of cold case victims. The information on this web site is a public report of findings at this point in time, and the work continues. Cold cases involving organized crime are too often in a protected mode, with official action long foreclosed as “administratively closed” and even before that the cases were effectively derailed. However, citizens dedicated to truth and justice – and accurate history and public awareness – can clearly make a positive difference for the present and future of communities and the nation.