Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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Adding a Ghost

Kreischer Mansion
Kreischer Mansion

Creepy teenage horror movies often feature murders in haunted houses, but such is not often the case in real life. That's why a recent mob hit stands out from so many others.  In 2005, thirty-six-year-old Robert McKelvey was drowned in an ornamental pond on a Staten Island, New York estate known as Kreischer Mansion.  He'd been stabbed and strangled, and after being drowned, his body was dismembered and burned in the furnace.  But others have burnt there as well.

Balthasar Kreischer had built the Victorian mansion at Arthur Kill Road during the latter part of the nineteenth century, from proceeds from his prosperous brick and terra cotta factory.  In fact, he'd built two mansion, one for his son and daughter-in-law, but that one had burned down, and the couple were consumed in the flames.  There were rumors that Balthasar had recently been in a dispute with his son, so he came under suspicion. Still, the deaths were not classified as homicides.  Apparently the surviving house retained the couple's spirits, because subsequent residents and others in the area reported the appearance of apparitions, unexplained banging, and slamming doors.  That may have added some motive for luring McKelvey to the mansion.

Allegedly, McKelvey's death was a "hit" carried out by four reputed Bonanno crime family members and associates, as reported in Newsday.  McKelvey, too, was a Bonanno associate and supposedly he'd failed to pay off a debt.  In addition, he'd been talking too much about the gang's activities.  It was surmised that groundskeeper Joseph Young, a rare black Bonanno associate, was the one who tricked McKelvey into coming, and the others assisted with the murder and cover-up. The police got a tip, but when they went to find the furnace to process it for evidence, they learned that because the building was in the process of being remodeled to become an assisted-living facility, the furnace had been replaced.

In an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, investigators charged McKelvey's boss, Gino Galestro, and three others: Joseph Young, Stefan Cicale, and Jose Garcia.  Galestro and Young are eligible for the death penalty.  Galestro allegedly ordered the hit in April 2005 just before he pled guilty to a federal loan sharking charge.  He had been sentenced to a year and one day in prison, as his associates recruited Young, with his convenient caretaking position, into the conspiracy with the promise of $8,000.

According to the indictment, Young was allegedly responsible for the hit, but he failed to strangle McKelvey, who broke free. Young ran after him and overcame him again, this time stabbing him repeatedly.  Finally, he dragged the victim to the brick-lined pond and drowned him. The others then helped to cut up the body and dispose of it.

FBI agents searched the house for evidence, but did not reveal whether they encountered anything out of the ordinary.  It remains to be seen (or heard) whether another unquiet spirit roams the grounds.

In Florida, too, a woman was killed in a former crime scene.

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