Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fatal Attraction Murder Case

The P.I.

Private investigator Vincent Parco, a middle-aged, balding man who spoke with a heavy New York City inflection, took the stand on February 21. Tom Warmus described Parco's speech as "a dialect or accent, almost like a Looney Tune or comic character, almost not a normal-type voice." Dressed in a gray suit and burgundy tie, Parco listened carefully to the oath and said loudly "I do!" as he sat down in the witness chair. Some law enforcement professionals do not hold private investigators in high regard. They sometimes work on the fringe of the law and frequently resort to unethical methods in order to get the job done. In his opening statement, even McCarty warned the jury about Parco's reputation: "He is testifying under a cooperation agreement and he's not very credible. Vincent Parco bears no resemblance to TV private investigators like Tom Selleck. By his own account he did a very sleazy thing."

Upon questioning, Parco explained how he came to meet Carolyn Warmus when she appeared in his office a few years before. She hired him to do some investigative work regarding a previous boyfriend. He told the court that Carolyn later asked him on several occasions to get a gun for her. "She had mentioned that there was a series of burglaries in her neighborhood, which is very common in New York City," he said. But she also mentioned a woman in Westchester that concerned her. She said that she needed the gun for protection. Parco said that at first he considered going to another state to simply buy the gun over the counter. Carolyn also told Parco that she had I.D. that wasn't hers. "She told me that one of the employees or teachers in her school had left a pocketbook or wallet in the locker room and that she had picked up some identification that she might use in the future," Parco said.

He went on to describe how the subject of a silencer came up and how Carolyn was very interested in this device. "And from that time on she became persistent about getting a silencer for the firearm," he said on the stand. "At some point I told her that an arbitrary price probably would be about $2,500 for the gun and silencer. She agreed to pay any price." During the week of January 7, 1989, a week before the murder, Parco said he delivered the .25-caliber Beretta handgun with a silencer to Carolyn's apartment. A day after the murder, Parco said Carolyn called and told him that a "teacher's wife has been stabbed or bludgeoned eight or nine times." She said the police had questioned her about the incident but she denied any involvement. "I said 'Are you sure she wasn't shot?' and she said no and I asked her, 'What about the gun?' and she said she wanted me to pick it up," Parco said during testimony. Later, Parco also testified that Carolyn told him she threw away the gun on a parkway somewhere.

Defense lawyer David Lewis wanted to show the jury that it was possible that Parco and Paul Solomon planned to frame Carolyn for Betty Jeanne's murder. Lewis emphasized Parco's lack of credibility and made sure the jury saw the witness' tendency to lie so easily.

"And one of your special skills is being able to tell a story that's a complete lie to total strangers and get them to believe it right?" Lewis asked.

"Yes," Parco said.

When you're lying to total strangers, that's when you're really being the most real. Right?"

"Yes," said Parco again.

"And the truth is the story you told when? The first time? The second time? The third time?"

"When I tell it here," Parco answered. He also said that he also became infatuated with Carolyn. He said that he had met her many times at restaurants, went out to the movies and had drinks together. But, he said, they never had sex. One time, around Christmas, Parco said, Carolyn called him and said that she was in sexy, black lingerie and wanted him to come over to her apartment. Parco said he declined the invitation.

"I was very tired and said, 'Let's do it Saturday night."

"You refused because you were tired and had a headache?" Lewis asked sarcastically.

"I didn't have a headache," Parco replied with a straight face.

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