Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cleveland's Killer Celebrities, Part 1

Coincidences

It was coincidence that Debbie and Greg Spoth were driving on Cedar Road the afternoon of Oct. 6. They were headed for the art gallery they owned in nearby Mentor.

As they passed Brainard, a blue Plymouth pulled out of the parking lot and cruised slowly away. As they passed it, they noticed two men looking back at the parking lot.

Oddly, the passenger was in the back seat, as though it were a taxi. He was holding something with a long antenna.

Suddenly, they heard a terrific explosion. Greg Spoth told his wife, "Get the hell out of here!"

As she pulled onto I-271 and headed north, the blue Plymouth sped past them. Suspicious, they caught up with it and pulled alongside. Greg got the license plate number. The passenger had apparently ducked down in the back seat, but they got a good look at the driver.

It was even more of a coincidence, but Debbie Spoth was an artist. She was also the daughter of a suburban policeman.

She drew a sketch of the driver and took it to her father. He took it to Cleveland police, who looked at it and immediately pulled a file.

Ray Ferritto's.


The Spoths identified Ferritto's photo as that of the driver and picked out Carabbia's photo as the man in the back seat.

Police needed evidence to confirm that Ferritto and Carabbia had been in the area. Cleveland and Lyndhurst police, the FBI and the Alcohol, Tax and Firearms Bureau interviewed hundreds of people with no luck.

But a check of auto registrations showed that the Nova, the bomb car, and the Plymouth, whose license number the Spoths had copied, were registered one after another on the same day at the same license bureau. That tied the cars together.

A search of Ferritto's house in Erie turned up a copy of Cleveland Magazine with a picture of Greene in it. Mob leaders had given it to Ferritto to help him recognize Greene.

Behind the visor of Ferritto's Cadillac police found the registration papers for both cars. Now they had tied the cars to Ferritto. They issued a warrant for his arrest.

The arrest bulletin described Ferritto as armed and dangerous, meaning that arresting officers would approach him with their fingers on the triggers of their guns. Ferritto didn't wait; he surrendered to the FBI in Pittsburgh. Agent Thomas Fitzpatrick handed him a card with his phone number, just in case he might ever want to call.

Next: One Tough Prosecutor

 

Categories
Advertisement