Monday, October 15, 2007


A guy standing up always looks best with his jacket buttoned.


I recently came across a copy of a 1991 magazine article written by Robert Martin about Lt Daniel Kelly, Jr – “Dean of NYPD Homicide Investigators”.

It appears that this may have been written for a John Jay College publication; the photocopy is clear as to the time line – Fall 1991 – but does not include the periodical information. It seems that the author was a Detective Captain taking a college course at the time.

I know Dan for quite a number of years, as Dan was the C.O. of Queens Homicide when my father worked there. Dan was the C.O. during the hey-days of the late 80’s into the 90’s, and had a supervisory staff that included Sgt. Fred Cornicello, Sgt. Phil Panzarella, and Sgt. Robert Plansker, as well as Sgt. Tom Gray.

Quite a number of department notables came through this area, and speak quite favorable of Dan Kelly even to this day. Dan retired a good number of years ago, but he certainly warrants a spot in the department’s notorious past commanders. The Eddie Byrne case was just one of the more notable cases that are too few to mention.

I will reprint part of the article here, as I found it very interesting, and perhaps you will too.

“On this particular night, a new homicide had occurred. I was in the office of the Queens Homicide Task Force being briefed as to what had taken place. Numerous theories were being tossed about and the recent crime was compared to some homicides that had taken place in the recent and distant past. The source of this information was Lt. Daniel J. Kelly, Jr., Commanding Officer of the QAueens Homicide Task Force. It occurred to me then, that Dan Kelly was a living link to the history of the NYPD, particularly in the area of homicide investigations in Queens. While we continued to work, I knew that I had found the subject for my paper. That solved problem number one. Problem number two would be to talk Dan into doing an interview with me. Dan Kelly is a quiet, humble individual and not one to “blow his own horn.” When I approached him with the interview idea he suggested other people who he thought would be more interesting and informative. But through a combination of pressure, pleading and cajoling, I was able to get Dan to agree to do an interview regarding his experience on “the Job.”

Dan joined the department in October of 1952, made Detective in 1956, Sergeant in 1963 and Lieutenant in 1967. Except for brief stints in uniform, when promoted to Sergeant and Lieutenant, he was involved in homicide investigations since 1956; almost thirty-five years.

When asked about his most memorable cases, Kelly replied, “Since 1973 I have investigated the killings of seventeen police officers in Queens, all have been important and all but one of these investigations was successful.” He names the Byrnes case and the killing of PO Scott Gadell in a shootout in Far Rockaway, as two of the most memorable.

When asked which one case sticks out in his mind, Kelly mentions the Scarangella / Rainey shooting in the 113 Precinct, which occurred in April 1981. In this case, two uniformed officers on routine patrol attempted to stop a van which had been seen in the vicinity of numerous burglaries. When the van stopped, two individuals jumped out and fired over thirty rounds at the two officers in their radio car. Officer Scarangella was killed and his partner, Officer Rainey, was severely wounded.

Kelly points to this case as being a “text book investigation” in that it covered the four major investigative steps that must be covered in a successful cases.

These steps are:

A. The Crime Scene
B. Interview / Interrogations
C. Surveillance
D. Record Checks

Through much hard work and the use of these techniques, the two killers were identified, tracked down, arrested and convicted. Kelly says that he and many of the Detectives that work for him, consider this case the most satisfying of their careers.

On the other side of the coin, Kelly did not hesitate when asked for his most frustrating case. “Howard Beach” he answered, “was four months of constant pressure and criticism. The news media and politicians put a lot of pressure on us and it made for a very frustrating case.”

At this point I asked Lt. Kelly to tell me step by step his response to a homicide scene.

“I usually get notified by phone, so before I leave the station house I stop at the desk and try to get a computer printout of the job. By looking at this I get some ideas, who called, what time, what unit responded, were there any other calls that may have had something to do with my job. This way I’m not pulling up to the scene completely in the dark as to what happened.

I also let the Desk Officer know that his switchboard operator might be getting calls with information about the homicide. If I have the manpower, I will leave one Detective in the office to take these calls, if not, I ask the switchboard operator to get as much information as possible from anyone calling.

In route to the scene you pray that the uniform personnel have established a criome scene, they have kept unauthorized personnel out of the scene and they have identified and detained any witnesses.

When I arrive I usually go directly to the body, and try and determine if the person was killed where the body fell or perhaps killed elsewhere and dumped, or assaulted at some other location and ran until he dropped at this spot. I then take a few steps back and enlarge my field of view. At this point, I look for areas where a witness may have seen what happened, areas to canvass.

One trick that Detectives have been using for years is to conduct a canvass after the crime at the exact location, time and day as the original crime took place. People are creatures of habit. So if you have a homicide go down on a certain corner at Friday night at 7 pm, it’s a good idea to have Detectives conduct a canvass of the same corner on the following Friday night at 7 pm. Chances are good that you will come up with someone who saw something, if not the homicide itself, some other thing out of the ordinary which did not seem important to them at the time.

The importance of the canvass is it gives you the independent witness. The witness who is not a friend of the victim or the perpetrator. It is this witness, with no ax to grind, who will give you a true, unbiased picture of what really took place.

It is crucial to get all the available witnesses interviewed as soon as possible, and if at all possible to get these interviews on audio tape. These interviews must be documented, along with such things as the assigned Detectives arrival on the scene, what time, who was there, his impression of the scene, a sketch and such factors as weather and lighting conditions.”

One thing that troubles Kelly is his belief that crime scenes are not held for long enough periods of time. “We, in New York City, give up the crime scene too soon. I know it’s a question of numbers and the volume of homicides in the city make it tough, but once you give up a crime scene, you can’t get it back. I would like to hold onto them longer.”

I asked if he believed the old adage “the first forty-eight hours after a homicide are the most important.” “That’s true”, Kelly replied. “If you get out quick with enough manpower, you will get the answers with a canvass, background checks, fin ding the independent witness and the motive. The only aspect that is not usually finalized is the scientific aspect, which again is a reason to hold the scene longer.”

We then moved onto the topic of what Dan looks for when interviewing potential members for his squad. “I look for investigative experience, knowledge of the law, attitude is very important and patience. For a Detective to be a good interviewer or interrogator, he must have patience. He must use that patience, and a good knowledge of the crime to get as much as he can from the subject, while giving up as little as possible.”

Lt. Kelly retired in August 1991, reaching the maximum age for active service in the department. I asked him, “Dan, when you walk out of the office door for the last time in August 1991, how would you like to be remembered by those still on the job?” Kelly thought for a long time, and then replied, “He knew his job, he did his job.”

For forty years, Dan Kelly knew his job and did his job like no one else has ever done it.”

Note from me: So much of what Dan Kelly said about homicide investigations in 1991 are so true to this day! Much of what he says in this piece are standard detective investigative tasks, which I myself use even to this day, when instructing at the CIC and the Homicide Course. The more things change…


My last posting to this site listed some “Murder Terms” of value to the investigator.

It was pointed out to me that I may have omitted one term of value.

“Eggerized” – the feeling you get after Larry Eggers has given you a homicide update. Or any update, for that matter.

Now, Larry has been retired for some time, but some things live on!

I have recounted numerous times on this site how much I love Larry Eggers – there is no better person to have in your corner if you need something. Larry would truly give you the shirt off his back (if you’d care to wear it!), but all kidding aside, he is a true friend and a unique individual.

That being said, Larry himself would surely agree, with that great laugh of his, his case updates are truly deserving of their own, individualized verb – Eggerized!


I received an e-mail recently from a Sergeant in L.A. looking for some help.

He wrote that he “had finally had it with the negative media coverage and constant barrage of anti-cop stuff out there. To that end, I started a website where I hope cops can tell REAL stories, as they see them. I hope to do two things: First, cops tell me it is therapeutic to write these down. Second, I want the public to see what cops really do out there. Not what the Times and the ACLU think we do.” I mention this here on this site for anyone who would like to check out this site, or may have something they would like to contribute.
The site is:

It is, of course, anonymous and secure. Also, I would appreciate any feedback or ideas. Thanks to Sgt. Steve Lurie, who put this site together.


If you recall the last posting on this site concerning some cell phone carriers including a feature that allows a cell phone subscriber to erase all of their phone data from a remote location, in the event that they report their phone lost.

It was noted how this feature could interfere with law enforcement conducting follow-up work on a phone recovered at a scene, etc.

Well, Retired Lt. Bob Gates submitted the following information, which could be helpful in this respect.

"We are aware of this new feature and there is already a defense for it. It is called a Faraday shield (Tent or Room) that is shielded from any electromagnetic fields (Radio Frequency). The FBI's RCFL (Regional Computer Forensic Lab) in Hamilton has it now."

"The problem is making the investigators in the field understand that they need to turn off the device and remove the battery as soon as they seize it. Most of investigators are inquisitive by nature and they tend to play around with the device checking text messages, emails, and dialed numbers."
My suggestion is to check with TARU immediately on any cell phone issue you may be working on, as they are the experts in this phase of the investigation.

Thanks, Bob, for your help! I owe you a cigar!!


October 15, 1932 Ptl John Fink, 71 Pct, Fire rescue
October 15, 1964 Det James Donegan, 71 Squad, Shot effecting arrest
October 15, 1964 Det Salvatore Potenza, 71 Sqd, Shot effecting arrest
October 15, 1994 PO William Kennedy, Info unavailable
October 17, 1989 PO Anthony Dwyer, MTS, Pushed from roof, burglary
October 18, 1938 Ptl Martin Hanke, 68 Pct, Shot-accidental
October 18, 1988 PO Christopher Hoban, MN Narco, Shot-warrant execution
October 18, 1988 PO Michael Buczek, 34 Pct, Shot-Investigation
October 18, 1996 Lt Federico Narvaez, 70 Pct, Shot-Investigation
October 19, 1929 Ptl Charles Saver, 76 Pct, Shot-robbery in progress
October 20, 1967 Ptl James Dandridge, 32 Pct, Shot:Accidental by MOS
October 22, 1907 Ptl Eugene Sheehan, 3 Pct, Shot by prisoner
October 22, 1931 Det Guido Pessagano, 20 Sqd, Shot-arrest
October 22, 1970 Ptl Gerald Murphy, 9 Pct, Shot-Arrest, off duty
October 22, 1972 Ptl Joseph Meaders, 63 Pct, Crushed by oil truck
October 24, 1935 Capt Richard McHale, 109 Pct, Shot by disgruntled MOS
October 24, 1939 Ptl Anthony Buckner, 32 Pct, Auto accident on patrol
October 24, 2002 Det Salvatore Cafiso, SI Narco, Heart attack, LOD
October 26, 1897 Ptl Frederick Smith, 14 Pct, Shot-burglary in progress
October 26, 1910 Ptl James Mangen, 144 Pct, Head injury, rescue
October 28, 1888 Ptl James Brennan, 21 Pct, Assaulted during arrest
October 28, 1945 Ptl James Bussey, 18 Pct, Shot-investigation
October 29, 1962 Det John Tobin, BCI, LOD Heart attack
October 29, 1982 PO James Whittington, PBBN FIAU, Shot-off duty