Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Alig: The Life and Death of the Party

Meeting His Makers

The morning of March 17, 1996, Angel came to the apartment and demanded the drugs that Alig had "borrowed" be returned or purchased.

As far as Alig was concerned, though, he didn't owe Angel one red cent. Angel had been staying at his house for free — he got drugs in exchange for rent — and he had given Angel entree into the fabulous inner circle of Club Kids. But Angel didn't do drugs, and he was tired of being walked on. He wanted Alig's money, and he wanted the money — $1,400 — club owner Peter Gatien supposedly owed him after one of his infamous hotel parties.

He jumped on Alig and was violently shaking the promoter, when Alig's shouting woke up Freeze who had been sleeping in another room. Freeze tried to intervene, but Angel's rage proved more powerful than he anticipated. The threesome scuffled as Angel first slammed Alig against a glass curio cabinet, breaking it to bits. Shards of glass stabbed into Alig's back shoulder. Angel bit into the club promoter's chest like a pit bull worrying its prey. Enraged, he wouldn't let go.

Freeze, despite his best efforts, couldn't get the drug dealer off Alig. The apartment was under renovation, and there were construction tools everywhere. Within his reach lay a hammer. He grabbed it and thwacked Angel a first time. It only made Angel angrier; he flailed about trying to grab for the weapon. Freeze tried again, harder. Still nothing. The third blow proved to be the charm. It broke the skin and bone, and sent Angel to the floor.

Now, it was Alig, bleeding from the bites, and the glass in his shoulder, who was in a rage. In alternate versions of the story, Alig either grabbed a pillow, or a shirt and stuffed them over Angel's unconscious mouth (he would claim, to keep Angel from biting him any more). Freeze pulled him off, though, and they relaxed for a few minutes by stealing more drugs from Angel's stash and getting high.

Autopsy reports later revealed that the cause of death was asphyxiation, not the hammer to the head — the pair had made a fatal blunder.

As the high wore off, they realized Angel wasn't moving. They tried to see if he was breathing by holding a spoon up to his mouth: nothing. They undressed him and immersed him in a tub of cold water in a vain attempt to revive him: nothing. They pushed him underwater to see if any bubbles surfaced: still nothing.

Freeze ran to the next room to fetch a medical book. When he returned, he saw Alig pouring or injecting (it is not clear which) Drano into Melendez's mouth. Alig explained that he was trying to embalm the body, and instructed Freeze to get duct tape and put it over Angel's mouth.

High and delirious, they put the body back in the bathtub and left it there, waiting for the liquids to drain and to buy time to figure out what to do next.

Alig called Peter Gatien's house in a panic. He reached Gatien's wife, Alex, instead. Alig told her that he had a body in the apartment and didn't know what to do. She disliked him and probably didn't believe him, refused to put Gatien on the phone, and hung up.

With no direction coming from the club boss, the twosome did what came naturally: they spent the next week doing the rest of the drugs.

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