Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Million Dollar Murder

Introduction

A ringing phone roused Dr. John Handwerker at 4:45 a.m. on June 29, 1964.

Florida map with Key Biscayne
Florida map with Key Biscayne

An answering service informed the physician of a medical emergency at the home of a millionaire neighbor in the diamond-dusted island enclave of Key Biscayne, Fla. Handwerker pulled on trousers and rushed to the home of Jacques Mossler, 69. The doctor might well have stayed in bed.

Jacques Mossler under blanket
Jacques Mossler under blanket
 

He found Mossler, the shrewd ruler of a $33 million financial empire, lying splayed on the living room floor, surrounded by an aura of crimson blood. Dr. Handwerker found no pulse, no heartbeat. There was nothing he could do because Mosslers murderer had done his work so thoroughly. The victims chest had been all but shredded by knifework.

Later that day, Dr. Joseph Davis, the Dade County medical examiner, catalogued Mosslers fatal injuries. He had been clubbed on the head at least twice, probably with an oversized soda bottle and a sculptured glass swan found in the apartment. He had then been stabbed. The murderer appeared to have been intent on a sure-thing kill with a direct pricking of the heart.

Dr. Davis in the 1960s
Dr. Davis in the 1960s
Dr. Davis counted 17 entry wounds on the left side of Mosslers chest. Two more thrusts penetrated his breastbone at the center of the chest, and six others were found on the left side of the body near his heart. In all, the pathologist found 39 knife wounds, and more than a few found their target of the millionaires heart.

Coroner's office, mid 1960s
Coroner's office, mid 1960s
 

The autopsy also numerous defense-style cuts on Mosslers hands and arms. He had died fighting. The question was: with whom?

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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