Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Mysterious Charlie Chop-off

Pedophile Caught

On August 29, a grand jury indicted Daniel Olivo, 30, on charges that he had sexually abused a five-year-old boy the week before in a park at 172d Street. He'd apparently suggested they go play ball. Once they reached a secluded spot, Olivo allegedly assaulted the boy, who had managed to escape and run to his father, who was in the park. Olivo went into hiding in some bushes, but the police found and arrested him close to the area where the assault had taken place. It was on everyone's mind that they might have caught the "Chop-off" killer.

Mario Merola
Mario Merola

Olivo was five-foot-seven, dark-complected, dark-haired, and had a pock-marked face. He also walked with a limp. Sent to the hospital for a psychiatric examination, his uncertain mental status delayed the hearing. But his fit with the description of the child killer seemed too striking to be mere coincidence. The Bronx DA, Mario Merola, considered the case to be potentially explosive, so he had kept the arrest quiet. Police around the city had become aware, ever since the mob incident, that any man who fit the description was in danger.

However, it turned out that Olivo was not who they were looking for. As police investigated his background and whereabouts over the past year, the information failed to fit the facts from their files. He was just another child molester, apparently not a killer.

The police were disappointed and the affected residents were disheartened. But there was nothing anyone could do to make a man into the killer if he wasn't. And there was not progress in sight. Nearly a year passed before another man was arrested and compared to the data and his name had come up before. This time, the situation was quite different.

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