Suzanne Basso and the Murder of Louis 'Buddy' Musso
Falling in Love
Buddy Musso could have two-stepped all the way to Texas.
He was finally in love, after nearly two decades of yearning for companionship and romance.
Musso, 59, met Sue Basso in the spring of 1997 at a church bazaar near his home in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.
She was visiting from Houston. Their long-distance relationship moved along quickly.
Musso mooned over the woman. He would blush like a teenager after every phone call, then tell friends all about the woman he called "my lady love."
Within months Musso was making plans to move to the Lone Star State to live with Basso.
Musso's friends were happy for him, but there were concerns. He was mentally handicapped, with a diminished intellectual capacity that some gauged as modest as that of an 8-year-old.
On the other hand, why shouldn't he be allowed to fall in love?
Musso had been married as a young man, but his wife had died of cancer in 1980, two years after giving birth to their son, Tony.
Buddy Musso had been lonely ever since.
He worked as a grocery bagger at ShopRite and lived at an assisted-living home in Cliffside Park, across the Hudson River from upper Manhattan.
His fellow residents were protective of him. He dreamed of being a cowboy singer, and he could make anyone smile with his slightly off-key renditions of country-western hits he learned from the radio.
"He was so affectionate," neighbor Jean Albanese told a New Jersey newspaper reporter. "If you gave him a little bit of attention, he became very attached to you."
Albanese and others worried about the motivations of Sue Basso, who was grossly overweight and, at 44, 15 years younger than Musso. Why was she so eager for him to move to Houston?
Despite the gossip, Musso began shipping his meager possessions to Basso's home in Jacinto City, Texas, just outside Houston.
Using his Social Security check, he bought a cheap engagement ring and a new set of Western duds for the trip.
He bid his friends goodbye and told them to prepare for a big wedding reception at the Cliffside Park Legion Hall.
On June 14, 1998, he boarded a Greyhound bus wearing pointy-toed boots, a neckerchief and a new cowboy hat.
In Houston, his lady love was eagerly awaiting his arrival.