Leo Mollica Came out of the Rehoboth Post office and got into a 2008 Cadillac XLR Roadster. This is a two seat sports car with a removable hard top that goes for over $80,000 dollars. For a lot of old time new Englanders the Cadillac is a status symbol.
I Followed Leo north on Route 1 for about a mile when he pulled into the WSFS Bank parking lot and went inside. On top of the bank was a billboard with some guy holding a Grotto Pizza box that says “We Switched For Service”. The Banks sign said WSFSBank.com so I looked it up on the lap top and saw that the name was “We Stand For Service”. I thought It must be hard to answer the phone in this place.
Next stop for Leo was Happy Harry’s Discount Drugs. This place had a smiling caricature of the guys face on the sign; this was a quick stop then on to the Food Lion, a supermarket. Both of these places were right off Route 1. Then I followed Leo south on Route One. We passed a lot of outlet malls and hotels and restaurants. There was one restaurant called “Crabby Dicks” which made me wonder who would eat in a place with that name. Traffic was very heavy down this four lane divided roadway with Traffic lights every ¼ mile. I was beginning to think if it’s this bad on a Friday morning it would be miserable on a weekend. I also noticed Leo was the typical Massachusetts driver, never using his directional at all. We got off route one and I followed Leo through some farm country and then past some housing developments, each one getting nicer and the homes getting larger. Then he turned into the last street. The homes were larger and there was more land between them. It also ended in a cul-de-sac so I couldn’t follow him without standing out. I thought it might be tough following him with Mass Plates on the car, but in this resort town there were so many different license plates I didn’t stand out.
Leo pulled into 2 E. Elanor Lee Lane as I watched through binoculars. The house was very big and had a 3 car detached garage. The house was on the water on Corkran Canal. Behind the house was a dock with a Wellcraft Coastal 360 fishing boat. A quick search on line shows this to be the top of the line for Wellcraft. Looking at photos I could see Leo had bought all the accessories. His boat was worth over $175K. I watched as the automatic garage door opened and he drove inside the middle of the 3 doors. I could see cars in the other stalls, but couldn’t make out what they were. Leo came out the side door and went into the house.
I looked at the neighboring houses and noticed #6 had a for sale sign from Coldwell Banker that said ask for Beth. I remembered seeing a Coldwell Banker Real Estate office on Route One so I thought I’d check out the cost on the house. An Online search showed
Beth Dormen was the top selling agent at the Coldwell Banker Real Estate office on 20184 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach. 6 E. Elanor Lee Lane, was a four bedroom house with 3 ½ baths, with a detached three car garage and a boat dock on the canal.
The selling price of the house was $1,649,500.00. Now unless Leo had a very rich relative or had won the lottery, there was no way he could afford all this on his railroad pension and the sale of his cape in Lowell.
I sent a quick email to the office asking them to check on a few things. I also decided to drive back instead of taking the ferry. Leo wasn’t going any where and he must know about Chuck Spencer.
After a stop at the WAWA gas station filling up on Gas at $4.03/gallon, I headed north up Route One towards I-95, The Delaware Memorial Bridge and the New Jersey Turnpike. My EZ Pass was about to get some work. After about 3 hours I pulled off the turnpike into the Joyce Kilmer Service Area for a refuel and a break. I checked my laptop and since I had internet service I looked at my emails.
Seems Large Scale on Line is having problem with there photo part of the site and Jon is away on one of his many trips so posting photos will be a problem. My office got back to me and like I thought records show no mortgage liens on 2 E. Elanor Lee Lane. Also the DMV shows no liens on the titles for the three cars. So you can bet the Boat is owned free and clear also.
I got back on the NJP and at Exit 11 I went north on the Garden State Parkway. After another hour I stopped at the Montvale Service Plaza to top off the tank to get though NY and CT without stopping.
I put a call into Gary Freeman, the VP from Pan Am Railroad, to tell him what I found out and ask him how he wanted to proceed from here. Gary said he would talk things over with his boss and get back to me. My guess is that they had to decide how to handle this. Do you do it quietly to protect the railroad’s reputation with its customers or do you handle it openly and prosecute to the fullest to send a message. Glad it’s not my decision. I’m sure I’ll have more to report after I get back to my office.
As I write this part of my report I find myself on the Delmarva Peninsula on the Delaware seashore in the town of Rehoboth Beach. This is a seaside community like most that swell in size of population for the summer.
I left Amesbury on Thursday morning, I took one of the unmarked Taurus cruisers. This one has 220,000 miles of service on it. Our fleet mechanics take really good care of all our Police vehicles. This one rides really nice and I’ll do better on gas with a V6 than one of the super charged V8’s on this trip. I also don’t want to advertise who I am when I get there.
I followed I-495 south to I-290 west through Worcester and then got on the Mass Pike I-90 west for one exit. I got off in Sturbridge and took I-84 South down through Hartford, CT and once I got west of the capital I was starting to see more NY Yankee stickers on cars (Yes I’m a Life Long Red Sox fan). After 3 hours I hit the NY line. The faded sign read welcome to the empire state. I took I-684 south and always find it funny when you run through the ½ mile of CT again and they spend money to welcome you to CT and then tell you that you’re leaving CT with signs. I took I-287 west and was slowed by a bit of road construction. I think this section of I-287 has been under construction for at least 10 years. (This guess is based on going to the ECLSTS every year) I crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge and looked down at the CSX Hudson River line but saw no trains. I took exit 14A to head towards the Garden State Parkway. I like going this way rather than the George Washington Bridge for a number of reasons. Mainly the traffic is lighter, the drivers seem less full of road rage and New Jersey looks more like a garden state than when you enter on I-95.
When I got to the second service area I pulled in for a Pit Stop. I filled up at LukOil for $3.99 a gallon which is what we are paying in NH and MA. I did notice gas in CT was $4.48 and even though I have a company credit card I still try and make it through CT and NY without stopping for gas. After a quick bathroom stop and passing up the temptation of hot frosted cinnamon buns that I don’t need, I was back on the road.
I passed the exit for I-78 which would take me towards York, PA. Normally I’d Get on the NJ Turnpike and head south to Delaware, but it was really nice weather so I stayed on the GSP and headed for Cape May and the ferry to Lewis, Delaware, the town right next to Rehoboth. It isn’t a shorter way time wise, but it makes for a really enjoyable trip. I figure the gas and tolls saved balances off the cost of the ferry. Delaware may be the smallest state in the country, but they take the most from you in toll money.
My trips south have got a lot better now that all the states have EZ pass. I also like the High Speed EZ pass lanes they are putting in now.
I pulled into a Service area near Barnegat and grabbed a brochure on the Ferry. I used to work with a guy back when I was on St. Mike’s Rescue that had worked for the Barnegat Light Rescue Squad. It’s funny how things trigger memories. I called and made a reservation on the 8pm boat, last one out. I was supposed to be there to check in an hour before, but it looked like I’d get there with only 30 minutes to spare. I could have called the office and had the dispatcher do this for me, but I figured they wouldn’t be that crowded on a Thursday night. I took the time to top off the tank again for the $3.99 a gallon. I know gas in Delaware is a bit higher. After a nice drive through the last 60 miles of the GSP, I got to the Ferry Terminal and checked in at the booth with my confirmation number. The woman in the booth said she didn’t want to try and pronounce the Company name on the card and butcher it. I said it’s easy – Just like “Sue Less Ski”, since she never heard of it I figured she wasn’t a rail fan. I showed her my badge and asked if there was anything special I had to do since I was carrying a firearm. She said hunters bring guns in their truck racks all the time during hunting season, so she didn’t think a pistol would be a problem as long as it stayed in the vehicle. Wow what a difference from airline travel. She was very pleasant, even with her accent, for someone in a toll booth.
I didn’t have to wait long for the Ferry. It pulled up 10 minuets after I got there and discharge its hoard of foot passengers and cars pulling pop-up campers and trailers for a weekend on the Jersey shore. There was also a group of bikers that looked to be out for a more than days ride with motorcycle trailers in tow.
The Terminal Security directed all the cars on to the ferry. Since they weren’t chocking the wheels of every car I guessed it would be a smooth trip. I went up to the second deck and took a seat inside the bow and watched the sunset off to my right as we took the 80 minute ride across the channel. As I sit relaxing I thought its funny how my trips are always so uneventful compared to every time I hear about one of Scott’s. His travels are more like adventures.
The Twin Capes Ferry docked and everyone was directed off smoothly. I headed up Route 9 and then turned south on Route 1 for the four miles to Rehoboth Beach.
As I sit here writing this now I realize I probably should have told you why I’m in Delaware. After checking out the inventory in the Spencer’s garage/warehouse it turned out that all the property was listed as stolen. Most of it was reported lost in shipping while in the railroads charge. The Pan Am VP was not happy when I reported this to him. They had some problems with theft and were working to stop it. They had caught some kids once, but never assumed most of their problems were internal. This theft of cargo had been going on back longer than Chuck Spencer was the yard foreman.
I was in Delaware to check on a Leo Mollica who was the Lowell yard foreman before Chuck Spencer. He had retired to Rehoboth Beach after 26 years of service. 5 of his last as the Lowell yard foreman. I got his address, a PO Box, from the Human Resources department at Pan Am. Since there was no street address on record I had no way to check up on him through town tax values on his house. Also when someone is under suspicion its better not to call and warn them. The fact that he wasn’t using direct deposit was also a flag to me.
So on this beautiful Friday morning after enjoying a breakfast at IHOP I was sitting outside the Rehoboth Post Office waiting for it to open. I also knew that checks were mailed and Leo would be getting his today. I had a photo of him from 8 years ago from the railroad. I hoped he wasn’t one of those people that changed a lot in appearance. Usually retires get into a set schedule, getting up and meeting a group of buddies for coffee might be a set Saturday thing, weekdays it might be getting out of the house to run errands and pick up the mail early before the summer beach traffic.
This morning I got lucky as Leo was right there when they unlocked the doors to the Post Office.
I’ll have to sign off the laptop now and be ready to follow him when he comes out. I’ll add more later.
I got a call from the Pan Am Railroad Offices asking for some assistance with a case of theirs. They had an internal problem and wanted me to look into it to make sure no one from their Police department was involved.
It all started when Chuck Spencer, Pan Am’s yard supervisor in Lowell, passed away from a heart attack while out fishing. Since he was a long time employee many people from the railroad were at the funeral services. While the VP of Pan Am Rail was expressing the railroads condolences to Mrs. Spencer she asked if the railroad would be coming to get its property from her garage. “Not that you have to, I’ll still keep leasing you the space", said Mrs. Spencer. Not knowing what she was talking about the VP said they would have someone get in touch with her later in the week.
This is why I found myself parked outside the small white cape on Jewett Lane. I had called Mrs. Spencer and set up this appointment. When I got to the top of the steps the door opened directly before I could ring the bell.
I said, “Hi Mrs. Spencer?, I’m Steve Ross.” I didn’t wonder why she opened the door, I figured she saw the cruiser and guessed who I was.
“Please call me Helen and please come in", replied Mrs. Spencer.
She showed me into a well kept living room and asked me to have a seat. “Can I get you any coffee or Tea?” she asked.
“I’m fine thanks, I don’t want to take up your time, and I just have a few questions to ask.”
Mrs. Spencer sat down and said, “How can I help you?”
I asked Helen to tell me about her husband’s arrangement with the railroad. She told me that he was leasing garage space to them so they could store extra boxes. The extra money it brought in helped a lot. She told me they were able to go on vacations and help their two kids out with down payments on their houses. “My husband took care of all the finances so I’m not sure of the exact arrangements. I just know they would bring boxes to put in the garage and then come and get some. There were always vans coming and going. It was nice of them to send plain white vans though so we wouldn’t get into trouble.”
“What do you mean by get in trouble?” I asked
“Well my husband said the railroad would use their plain white vans so the city wouldn’t catch us running a storage business out of our residence. It had something to do with zoning he said. I know it wasn’t legal, but we weren’t hurting anyone.”
“I’m not here to judge Helen, nor am I here for the city so you don’t have to worry", I said reassuringly. “You told the Pan Am VP that there were still boxes in storage?”
“Yes the garage is still pretty full, I thought that they might come take it all away since my husband no longer works for them,” said Helen. “I’m fine with them still leasing the space, can you tell them that?”
I could see her eyes watering when she referred to her husband. “Can I have a look out in the garage?” I asked. “If it’s OK with you I’ll just go out and look by myself.”
“That’s fine", Helen said, “Here are the keys.”
“I may be a while as I have to check the inventory for the railroad", I said to give myself time as I went out side. The railroad had no idea what was in the garage. She assured me everything was there.
When I got around back of the house I found myself looking at a detached two car garage that looked like it was much newer than the house. The key fit a side door and I went in and turned on the lights. The double garage was about three quarters full of boxes. Stacked in areas of like sizes were boxes of flat screen TV’s, Computers, DVD Players, Nike Sneakers, Makita Battery drills, and much more. It was a true warehouse. Something wasn’t right here, but I didn’t want to break it to Helen. If this was the railroads property they were going to be surprised. I began to take an inventory with serial numbers; it was going to be a long afternoon.
I’ll post more on how this progresses after I get this inventory done and search where it all came from.
Suleski Transportation Railroad Police Report:
Suleski Transportation sent equipment and employess to the 2008 ECLSTS to display with the New Hampshire Garden Railroad Society. Members of the Railroad Police went also to look after our interests.
A lot of our Police equipment was brought to display also:
Tom Daley, President of the Quincy Northern was unable to make it to the show, but his Twin brother came down on their police motorcycle.
His twin brother, Tom, (aka: The other Tom) is the cheif (and only) Railroad Police officer of the Quincy Northern.
We even had a banner printed by Sign Design and Sales of Amesbury, MA to show photos of our equipment:
Jay Frost and most of his crew came down with 3 of our 9 snow plows to display. May people asked questions about the new single throw plows.
Jay got a bit upset when he found out that it snowed on Saturday morning and for the first time since 1995 Jay wasn’t a member of the plow extra crew. He wanted to take the corporate helicopter back, but Scott told him it was OK if he just missed this once…
Suleski Transportation added two new work vans to its growing support fleet. They were lettered upon delivery by a member of our graphics department.
We also brought the moose family as they enjoy attending the shows and seeing all the people. Papa Moose is always amazed at the attention given to the blue statue that represents the story of his becoming a member of Suleski Transportation.
Blue Moose Park is the only National Historic Site that moves locations.
One of our workers was painting benches at the park when a gentlemen refused to move, he said he was eating his lunch and waiting for the Burlington Northern Railfan train to go by, and nothing would make him miss it. He also complained about the color being used on the bench, but was relieved that it was only yellow primer and then a new coat of green was going back on. That calmed him down a bit.
We were also busy investigating quite a few accidents that occured at the show. One engineer in particular seemed to be invovled in a lot of them. Here Bob Clark ran a freight train into the back of a passenger train. If it was up to us we would have taken his license right then, but we had no juristiction. We made a report to the FRA hoping they will.
Later another engineer ignoring a speed order through the yard entrance switched derailed his train and caused damage to Suleski Transportations Railroad Police Hum-vee.
Members of Cape Ann Rail were very lucky to avoid being involved.
After the right of way had been inspected on Thursday and everything was working smoothly, Suleski Transportation #28 was stopped on Friday Morning after spotting something that had been placed inbetween the rails.
We were not sure if this was sabbotage or a terrorist act. The bomb dogs were called in to check it out.
Upon closer inspection it was identified as a device from outside the country.
After it was determined not to be an explosice device. It was removed and taken away to be studied.
Later on we detained a man who was caught holding a similar device. He is not on any terrorist watch list, but we found it amazing that after the right of way was tested that he would be going around and placing objects in the track. You really have to watch everyone at a show, even people you think would know better.
We will issue a BOLO and place this man on a watch list warning other railroads around the country of his thoughtless actions.
Over-all it was a great show for all of us, meeting new friends and old. We are looking forward to next year already. Though it may be hard to get Jay Frost to go again.
Suleski Transportation, Inc.
I woke up at 9am, which was late for me, and went to look at my face in the bathroom mirror. If it looked as bad as it hurt I was in trouble. It did and nothing was going to hide it short of a paper bag. I took a long walk and ran through things in my head.
At noon I headed to the center of town to the Amesbury Police station. When I got to the station I met Sergeant Bagshaw, who was in charge of the case. I sat and talked with him over coffee explaining all that I could prove as fact and my gut instinct. I left out the letter for now waiting to hear Rene’s story and see if I could protect Pauline. I figured Joshua would have wanted it that way also.
We went to the interrogation room and Rene was brought in. He was assigned a public defender that looked like he was fresh out of school. When Rene was asked why he broke into Pauline’s house and attacked, the attorney interrupted with “allegedly”. I just smiled and thought to myself how predictable most lawyers are. The phrasing of a question is something you learn with experience. Sometimes you learn more from the asking and the not answering of them. This question gave the lawyer a false sense of his superiority over us local hic cops that don’t know anything. It also let’s us see how far the lawyer will let us go. Sgt. Bagshaw looked at the lawyer and said. “We’ll talk about the ‘alleged’ bruise on the detective’s face and the ‘alleged’ resisting arrest later.”
After I realized that the lawyer wasn’t going to let us get anywhere I signaled to the Sergeant and he got up and walked to the corner of the room with me. I just looked at him for a bit then said loud enough to be overheard, “ I don’t think were are going to get any truthful answers out of him even if it weren’t for the lawyer. This guy couldn’t tie his shoes without Joshua”.
With that comment Rene exploded, which is what I was hoping for. He started raving about how he was the one that carried Joshua, that without him Joshua wasn’t anything. The lawyer tried to stop him, but Rene was on a roll. Rene was screaming so much that his face was turning red. He stood up yelling, “Everyone always gave the praise to Joshua and the asshole never gave me any credit. He couldn’t even stay alive without me.” At that point the attorney threw up his hands in a surrender gesture. Rene went to say that Joshua was so naive he didn’t even know that Dick was also in love with his gal. “Everyone knew how Josh felt about her, but Dick was constantly trying to make himself look better than Joshua so she’d notice him. Everyone could see it but Joshua. He was too nice to everyone, I kept telling him people take advantage of him, but he wouldn’t listen. He was a fool. It was so easy to play Dick on to him. Neither of them knew I was doing it. I was too smart for them both. I showed them who was the best of the crew.”
Sergeant Bagshaw said, “You sure showed ‘em Rene, you were so smart you out smarted yourself.” With that he shut off the tape recorder. Just then it dawned on Rene what he had just done. He fell back into the seat and put his head down on his arms. We walked out of the room to leave him with his lawyer. The sergeant said it would be hard to tie him to a 46-year-old murder without some physical evidence. “All we have on him now is Breaking and Entering and threatening an old lady. That along with the resisting arrest and assault and battery will get him time, but not much. I asked the Sargent to hold Rene for the rest of the day. I told him I would go check on the DNA match on the hair and work on a warrant for the murder weapon. He looked at me like I’d lost some marbles. I thought you found the murder weapon with the remains. I smiled and said, “Rene doesn’t know that.”
I left the police station and went to my office. I smiled and said good morning to Jane, the company receptionist, as I picked up my messages. She winced as she looked at me. I had forgotten about the side of my face and what it must have looked like. She gave me one of those sympathetic motherly looks. I replied, “It only hurts when I laugh, or smile, or talk”.
In my office I ran through the incident report log to bring myself up to date on everything. I was happy that things were quiet enough to let me devote so much time to Joshua.
I went into Scott’s office and talked to him about how we got Rene to admit to getting Richard worked up about the upcoming proposal of Joshua to Pauline. Then he sent Richard down the tracks looking for Joshua. He had to lie with Richard about Joshua’s disappearance. He was an accessory to murder. However I couldn’t pin it on him without bringing what Richard did into the open and hurting Pauline. I also didn’t want to have to use the letter. There had to be a way to make Rene pay without hurting Pauline.
We both felt the same about saving Pauline from any further pain, but that meant letting Rene go. I wasn’t sure the Amesbury Police would see it my way. I also thought that a free Rene would still be a problem for Pauline. I told him my idea and he thought it was worth a try.
I called Sergeant Bagshaw from my office. I explained to him about being in Rene’s apartment the other day and asked if he could get a search warrant for a murder weapon. “I thought it was the sledge hammer you found?” he asked.
“It was, but we never told Rene or his lawyer that. If I know how busy the Public Defender is, I bet he hasn’t read the ME’s report. The other day I saw the track wrench hanging on the wall in Rene apartment. I bet it was Joshua’s. Richard probably carried it back after burying the sledgehammer. Rene would have wanted it; it was the status symbol of the Section foreman. When Rene was let go by B&M he was given a retirement party, so to speak, and presented with the wrench. Rene is a slob and I bet he never cleaned it. It must have gotten blood splashed on it when Richard smashed in Joshua’s head.”
“That’s a long shot if I ever heard one.”
“Don’t you see, we just have to make Rene believe we found blood on it and it can hang him for the murder without Richard. Rene had motive and the murder weapon.”
“You’re really stretching this one. I don’t see how it will work.”
“ If Rene thinks we have him dead to rights on murder one, for which there is no statute of limitations. We could get his Attorney to agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. He would go to jail either way. I would just like to see him pay for his involvement in Joshua’s murder. I don’t care why he goes to jail as long as he goes.”
“OK, we’ll give it try. How soon can you meet me at Rene’s apartment.”
“ I’ll be there before you get there with the warrant. I’ll be waiting out front.”
I was sitting across from Heritage Towers watching the front door. Sergeant Bagshaw showed up with a patrolman and the warrant. We met Brian, the maintenance man, and he and his passkey came with us, up the painfully slow elevator, to the fourth floor. Brian opened the door. I pointed to the wall above the sofa. Sitting on three nails in the wall was a large track wrench. It was over three feet long and hung at an angle. There were no other photographs or artwork on display. Sgt. Bagshaw removed and bagged the wrench and we headed back down to the lobby in the elevator.
Two hours later Sergeant Bagshaw had an Assistant District attorney show up at the Amesbury Police station. He briefed him on our plan. The ADA said he would go along with it if it worked right away. If there were any hesitation he would call off the whole thing. As it was we were close to having the whole case thrown out if any body found out what were we doing. We then went into the interrogation room with Rene and his attorney. I put the photo of the track wrench on the table in front of them. I said, “That’s the track wrench from the wall in your apartment. It was given to you at your retirement when they closed the Salisbury Point line. Before it was yours it was Joshua’s.” Rene said, “So what, it was mine after I got promoted to fill Joshua’s position after he left”. “ That’s the murder weapon,” I said. Rene looked as if he was about to correct me, but he thought better and kept his mouth shut. We told them that we found Joshua’s blood type on the wrench. We also said the serial number on the wrench was recorded as belonging to Joshua’s in B&M’s records before being assigned to Rene.
The DA offered the deal to Rene to plead guilty to being an accomplice to murder and do 10 years or be tried for premeditating murder one and go to jail for life.
Rene’s lawyer told him he could be out on parole in 5-8 years if he took the deal. If he lost the trial he’d have no chance for parole. Rene thought for about a minute before he took the deal.
I couldn’t believe it worked. I had all I could do to hold in my excitement and not give away the whole thing. Later in Sergeant Bagshaw’s office, he told me he’d have bet money that this whole plan would have fallen in my face. I winced at the thought of anything else hitting my face. I told him all I cared was that Pauline wasn’t going to be hurt again by being dragged through a trial, and Rene was going to pay in some way for what he did to both Pauline and Joshua. I think Richard already paid with a life of guilt that slowly killed him.
Later that evening I caught the Sunset ride on the Suleski Transportation Passenger excursion. I got permission from the engineer to ride in the cab of ST #14 with him and the Fireman.
As the fireman was opening the smoke box door to throw in some more wood, I tossed a crumpled piece of paper in before he shut the door. I enjoyed the ride even without the smell of diesel in the air. Also we weren’t heading towards any bridges tonight.
It was a sunny winter afternoon and I picked up Pauline at her house and drove her to the Amesbury’s Union Cemetery on Rt. 110, Haverhill Road. It’s also referred to as Sandy Hill Burying Ground and Bartlett Cemetery.
The oldest section is located on the spot of the first Meeting House in Amesbury, erected in 1665. I showed Pauline where Joshua was laid to rest and the headstone that Suleski Transportation donated in memory of a fellow railroad man.
Pauline thought it was fitting that Joshua has joined a bit of Amesbury history. I thought Joshua, through his work on the rail line, made history in this town.