It wasn’t a very happy Thanksgiving for Salvatore Perrone. While most Americans enjoyed the day at home feasting with family, Perrone was in a Brooklyn court being arraigned for the murders of three shopkeepers.
Perrone, who turned 64 this week, was charged with three counts of second-degree murder for the cold-blooded killings of Mohamed Gebeli, Isaac Kadare, and Rahmatollah Vahidipour. Prosecutors chose to charge Perrone with one count of first-degree murder as well, a statutory option open to them because Perrone is alleged to have killed three people within a two-year span. If Perrone is convicted, he will face a sentence of life imprisonment.
The defendant is being held without bail until trial. While a permanent defense attorney is yet to be named, Ken Jones represented Perrone at the arraignment and hinted that an insanity plea might be on the horizon. “His affect is just a little different, Jones told the New York Times, “he does seem as though he could have some mental-health issues.”
When police first caught sight of Perrone on surveillance camera, he was nicknamed “John Doe Duffel Bag”. Local tabloids report that Perrone’s Staten Island neighbors had a different sobriquet for their unpopular neighbor — they called him “Son of Sal”, an unknowingly prescient take on notorious serial killer David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz.
Residents of the Silver Lake neighborhood in Staten Island described Perrone as a bothersome person, who often threatened to call in police or other authorities over neighborly disputes. Still, no one suspected Perrone was a murderer. One neighbor told the Daily News: “If he is convicted, we’ll throw a block party. He’s insane. But a serial killer? That’s a stretch.”
More details emerged about Perrone’s financial situation and previous criminal convictions in the days after his arrest. A foreclosure notice had been filed on Perrone’s home, implying he had fallen behind on his mortgage payments. A former neighbor said Perrone’s house had fallen on hard times: “It looked unlivable for about 20 years,” according to Sharon Sullivan.
Perrone previously had minor brushes with the law — he was arrested twice for DWI on Staten Island and once in New Jersey, and was hit with theft and harrassment charges in Pennsylvania for drunkely barging into his girlfriend’s home. Nothing in his past seemed to suggest he would one day be arrested for serial murder.
News reports say Perrone ultimately confessed to the murders of Kadare and Gebeli after hours of police interrogation. Perrone gave no motive for the killings, but spoke freely to police for hours. The Daily News cites a law enforcement source saying Perrone seemed confident upon arrest: “When he came in he signed the Miranda… ‘I’ll talk to you, I want to talk to you’” the source told the paper “he thought he’d outsmart us, but he wasn’t arrogant — just very level, no emotion. At one point he actually said, ‘I’ll be out of here in the morning.’”
Now it seems much more likely that Perrone will spend the rest of his life behind bars. A life sentence without their loved ones has already been imposed on the families of Gebeli, Vahidipour, and Kadare. The Vahidipour family spent the Thanksgiving holiday mourning the grandfather of nine who would no longer be able to share family moments. The usually joyous holiday celebration was replaced with a memorial gathering.