Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Intensive Care Unit

A "Hot Case"

The Bronx Commander of Detectives was hearing "rumblings" through the department's brass, rumblings emanating from One Police Plaza, that Merola had a "hot case" going on that he was keeping under wraps. Dreher had in his office a lieutenant detective who used to work for Merola as an attached investigator. Dreher told him to see what he could find out about this mysterious hot case. The detective confirmed the Bronx DA was sitting on something big. Dreher called a squad commander's conference the next day. All his Bronx lieutenants attended.

After the squad meeting Dreher called Lt. Detective Edward Clarke into his private office. Clarke headed the detachment of NYPD detectives assigned to the DA, but he ultimately answered to the borough detectives' commander — Chief Dreher.

Dreher recalled 30 years later how he explained to Clarke over the course of the next hour that he sympathized with him because "he had to serve two masters," but Dreher reminded him that his shield said "City of New York Police Department and that Dreher was his boss." The chief then asked Clarke "if anything was going on down there [in the Bronx DA's office] that might bring discredit to you or to me as happened out in Queens when [DA] Mackell bit the dust," referring to Mackell's 1973 indictment on charges of hindering an investigation. Clarke recited the whole litany of events unfolding up at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He also made a chilling revelation: there might have been other deaths. He told the chief that they stopped going back when they reached five suspicious deaths.

When he was finished Dreher told the detective to go back to his office and put everything Clarke had just told him in a written report, sign it and "get it back to me in an hour."

Within thirty minutes of Clarke hand-delivering the report he phoned Dreher. He told the chief that "Mr. Merola is directing that you are not to send that report downtown [to police headquarters]." Dreher surmised that the volcanic DA hit the roof when he learned that the borough's Commander of Detectives knew about his office's investigation.

Dreher paused for a second, subtly conveying the seriousness of his response.

"Ed, you go back and tell Mr. Merola that when he gets a New York City Police Department Shield that has one more star than I have he can order me; until that time he can't."

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