Six Now Involved In Gangland Mystery


March 15, 1959


Niagara Falls Gazette - Detectives have yet to write the last chapter to the gangland murders of three men the disappearance Last fall of another and the recent flight of two men with police records.


Principal characters are these:


Fred (“The Fox") Aquino, 25, Buffalo, whose mutilated and nude body was found four days later in a Tonawanda field.


Frank Aquino, 28, Buffalo, whose body was found crammed under the dashboard of his mother's 1958 Lincoln convertible in a residential area of Lackawanna last September 13.


Arthur DeLuca, 663 21st St., this city, 23-year-old bricklayer, whose body was discovered in the trunk of his 1957 Cadillac in a parking lot at North Tonawanda.


Angelo J. (Rico) Cicatello, 32, who sometimes lived in an apartment at 769 Seventh St., Buffalo, and sometimes with his parents at 1013 Niagara St., Niagara Falls, missing since last Nov. 29, 1958.


Leo J. Bartolomei, 23, of 2737 Independence Ave., Niagara Falls , D'Antuono's companion who has been reported missing since the same day.


Guido D'Antuono, 29, of 548 Seventh St., Niagara Falls, who has been reported missing since March 3, 1959 and who is believed to have flown to New York City with a companion.  


Neither Buffalo police nor Niagara Falls police have factual evidence that there is a connection between the Aquino and DeLuca murders or the disappearance of D'Antuono, Bartolomei and Cicatello.


The only common denominator is a tavern in Allen St., Buffalo, where all the principals were known to hang out.


It was in this street where D'Antuono was stabbed in a fight last summer.


Bartolomei told Buffalo police he was with D'Antuono at the time but could tell them nothing about who did the knifing.


Bartolomei and D'Antuono flew to Newark, N.J., March 3 from Buffalo. They had return tickets registered under the name "Barto," according to Detective Captain William Wilson. They were due to return the next day.


Police information indicates that they secretly flew to New York City Feb. 21 1959 of this year.


A 14-state police teletype alert has produced no information about their whereabouts.


Capt. Wilson said he wants to question the pair, but there are no charges pending against them.


The two worked at the J. P. I. Construction Co. at a housing project in Miller Rd.


D'Antuono went home to his apartment,. 548 Seventh St., March 21, 959. He showered and changed from working clothes to dress clothes and told his wife, Vivian, he was going away for a while. He promised to call her at 4 p.m.


Mrs. Katherine Bartolomei, 2737 Independence Ave., told police her son left the same day saying he was "going away for about a week."


The two men were among those questioned last fall in connection with the slaying of DeLuca and the disappearance of Cicatello. They were acquainted with both men.


D'Antuono also was an acquaintance of the murdered Aquino brothers.


Both men have police records locally. D'Antuono's record shows 14 arrests, ranging from burglary charges to assault and vagrancy.


Bartolomei has been arrested and convicted for assault in this city. He also has a police record in California including arrests for possession of narcotics.


Despite D'Antuono's and Bartolomei's acquaintance with the three murder victims, police do not believe that they have been slain themselves.


Both were close mouthed when questioned in connection with the DeLuca murder

and the slaying of the Aquinos.


D'Antuono, though, told Falls detectives he would talk for $10,000, tax free. This was the same amount offered in reward by Mrs. Belle Conley, mother of the Aquinos, for information leading to the arrest of her sons' killers.


The DeLuca killing, following the Aquino murders, started police of Niagara Falls and Buffalo on an intensive investigation of crime in the two cities. 'That investigation presumably is continuing.


Detective Chief John J. Whalen, of Buffalo, believes, there was no connection between the Buffalo and Niagara County killings.


Detective Lt Joseph C. Conti and Detectives Sam Augustino, Wilfred. Garrow and John Murphy "worked closely with Buffalo and North Tonawanda police seeking a solution to the DeLuca murder.


Chief Whalen said there is no factual evidence that DeLuca's death was related to the Aquino deaths.


His only known tie was the Allen St. tavern in Buffalo which they all frequented.


Mrs. Conley said she saw DeLuca at the Aquinos' wake and again at the Bison Hotel, which Frank Aquino managed.


Buffalo detectives watching at the wake said they did not see DeLuca there. Nor was DeLuca's name mentioned in any of the investigations of the Aquinos' deaths.


Chief Whalen. believes DeLuca was "fingered" and murdered outside Buffalo.


When his body was found in his Cadillac his mouth was trussed open with an electric cord indicating a gangland symbol that he had talked too much.


DeLuca was a handsome, 23-year-old ex-football player. He lived in a comfortable well-furnished apartment at 636 21st Street, Niagara Falls . He dressed well and often entertained friends in this city and Buffalo, but his only apparent means of support was a weekly unemployment check.


DeLuca's killers were experienced, efficient. killers,"


Chief Whalen reasons, but he does not think DeLuca ever reached Buffalo on the night of his death.


DeLuca was visiting his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Attilio DeLuca, 471 18th St. Niagara Falls , when he received a telephone call. He left the house a few minutes later saying something about meeting a friend in Niagara St., Buffalo, according to his mother.


I don't think he ever got to Buffalo," Chief Whalen said. "Why bring a guy to Buffalo from the Falls, kill him and then dump his body in North Tonawanda?"


Missing or dead, the whereabouts of Angelo J. (Rico) Cicatello, who vanished Nov. 29, 1958, remains a mystery. He was first thought to have vanished after drinking with an acquaintance

in Buffalo the night of Nov. 28, but further evidence led to the conclusion that he was last seen in Niagara Falls a day later.


Cicatello was thought to be an acquaintance of DeLuca but there is no evidence that he had ties with the organized underworld.


He was sentenced in 1954 to three years in federal penitentiary on conviction of transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes. He was released in 1957. He also had a record for petit larceny in this city.


Until a month before his disappearance, he worked on the Niagara power project.


Cicatello's abandoned 1956 car was found about a half block from his apartment at 769 Seventh St., Buffalo. In the car were an empty overnight bag, a Niagara Falls parking ticket, and laundry which his mother Mrs. Thomas Cicavtello, of 1013 Niagara St., had prepared for him earlier.


One of the last "persons known to have seen. Cicatello was identified by Buffalo police as a man named Danny. He told police he had been with Cicatello in a restaurant at Main and Allen Sts., Buffalo, early on the Saturday morning before Cicatello vanished.


Later information gained by Detective Lt. Conti and Detective Augustino indicated that Cicatello had made a phone call from the Vetans' Cab stand at 1451 E. Falls St. Niagara Falls , on the following afternoon.


The local detectives learned that Cteatello had two Saturday appointments which he failed to keep. One was to sell his car, and the other was to sign a partnership paper with a Sam Gullo,

who shared an apartment with him in Buffalo. The pair planned to open a Buffalo restaurant.


Cicatello was in the habit of calling his parents daily when he was living away from home. His ex-wife confirmed this. Mrs. Julie A. Cicatello said after his disappearance:

" . . . I know how much he loved his mother . . . it was not like him to go away without letting her know he was okay."


Mother Of Two Aquinos Has Ideas On Murders


March 15, 1959


A ONCE BEAUTIFUL, still handsome woman sits near the two ivory telephones in her Buffalo hotel hoping that someday one will bring a clue to the murder of her two sons.


She is Mrs. Belle Conley, about 48, mother of Frank and Fred Aquino, who were slain last  September in gangland- style murders.


She still holds to her offer of a $10,000 reward for information which would lead to the conviction of the slayer.


She credits the Buffalo police with working hard to solve the slayings. She keeps in almost constant contact with Harry Klenk, chief of the Buffalo Homicide Bureau, and an acquaintance of nearly a quarter of a century.


Belle cooperates with, but does not always agree with, the Buffalo detectives.


WHATEVER Belle's varied past might have been, today she is the bereaved mother of the murdered sons.


Her one penchant is to help the police find the slayers.


Frank Aquino, 28, was found shot to death, his body crammed under the dashboard of Belle's 1958 Lincoln convertible in a residential area of Lackawanna.


Fred Aquino. 25, whose nude, mutilated body was found in a Tonawanda field, died at or about the same time as his brother.


What was the motive for the apparent grudge murder of Freddie "The Fox" Aquino?


"Falling out among thieves," says Detective Chief John J. Whalen, of the Buffalo Police.


"Jealousy over a woman," says Belle.


DETECTIVES and Belle agree that Frank went to his death because of Freddie's murder.


Belle talks endlessly to reporters about the murders.


The more that's learned the more involved the solution becomes, she told a Niagara Falls reporter.


Belle lives at an old mansion, converted to what is now the Virginia Hotel, at 996 Main St., Buffalo. It is one of many small hotels and apartment houses which she has owned in the past or still owns.


A porter meets you in the small lobby. "Are you an insurance man; a policeman?" he inquires.


He mounts a flight of stairs and reappears o minute later to lead you to a comfortable sitting room.


Belle greeted the reporter cordially but unsmilingly.


She introduced a man with her as her brother.


Her more is a quiet place.


She takes her place with her brother on an expensive looking rose colored divan. A gas fireplace purrs in the Background, dark green wallpaper of another era and dark woodwork adds to the subdued atmosphere.


There is nothing here to indicate that this was once the home of two young men who liked to live violent lives.


BELLE has several theories about the reason for her sons' murders but none of these would link them with a ring of safecrackers, bank robbers or burglars.


"My boys had always worked or were in business. Why would they need to turn to theft?" she asked.


She does not say that they were not involved in major thefts, only that they did not need to get money that way. They had money of their own from work or business, and they could turn to her for money if they needed it.


Fred did some bookmaking, she admitted. In fact, she maintains, he had $6,000 in bookmaking money on him the day before he disappeared. Where this money this money went, she said, remains a mystery.


CHIEF KLENK said they checked this report but found no factual evidence that Fred had a large

amount of cash. Only a few dollars were found 'on his body. Chief Klenk said Belle had quoted Fred as saying he was going into a business venture, had most of the money for this, but needed four thousand more dollars.


Belle said she believes one woman knows all the facts about Fred's slaying but will not talk. This was a young married woman with whom Fred shared an apartment at the Delaware Arms Apartments.


One of her theories is that Fred made the rounds of three bars, was either urged to drink heavily or was drugged.


Then, according to her theory, he was taken to his apartment at about 3 a. m. in a condition which would make him unable to defend himself.


She reasons that the murder could have been committed

at the apartment. The rooms were on the ground floor and there were signs that a window had been forced open. His body then could have been spirited out through the window and into a car waiting in the shadows behind the building.


STATEMENTS taken by Buffalo detectives indicated that Fred was drinking until the early hours with three older companions oh the Thursday he disappeared.


He was driven to his apartment house by one of his drinking companions. But he did not enter the building.


Belle said Fred's woman apartment mate insists he didn't return home. The mother said she talked to Fred by telephone at 2 p.m. Friday and he said he was "at home."


FRANK disappeared the following Saturday. He was last seen by a gas station attendant after 3 a.m. Belle believes he died because of Fred's murder.


"He was working as manager at the Bison Hotel when he got a phone call." "He was heard to say "Angle, I'll see you in 20 minutes." "He left the hotel in his Lincoln, got gas nearby, and was not seen after that by anyone willing to talk.


"A girl would have to lure Frank," said Belle. "If he anticipated trouble he would have taken someone with him .'. . But someone could have called Frank and said Fred was in trouble."


Belle maintains that a man (known to Buffalo police as an acquaintance of the Aquinos) was seen loitering at a corner near the Bison Hotel on the morning of Frank's disappearance.


This same man was one of Fred's drinking companions on the night of his disappearance.


He also was reported by police as the last man to have been with Angelo J. (Rico) Cicatello, 32, of this city and Buffalo, who has been missing since last November.


THE AQUINO brothers frequented a place in Allen St., Buffalo, a few blocks from the Virginia Hotel.


This was the known meeting place for Buffalo and Niagara Falls thugs.


This was near the spot where Guilo D'Antuono, 29, of this city, now missing, was stabbed, in a street fight - last summer. This, too, was one of the places visited by Fred Aquino before his death.


Belle said she frequently drove by the place and saw "five or six" Cadillacs parked there every time. "Why don't the authorities investigate some of those people?" she asked. If you or I bought a Cadillac, the Internal Revenue people would want to know why."


  ANOTHER Grudge which might have led to the death of her sons arose from a beating Fred gave another youth six years ago, according to Belle.


She tells this story:


Someone outside the Virginia Hotel shattered a neon sign with stones. Minutes later, Fred walked in saying three or four men in a car tried to get him to come with them. He stalled them

off saying he would be "right out"


A short time later Frank staggered in bleeding from a severe beating. When Fred saw this he ordered his brother to come with him.


They cruised the city streets searching all-night places for Frank's attackers. Finally they spotted one of the men in an all-night restaurant Fred dashed in, ordered everyone to "line up against the wall. Then, after apologizing to the manager, he methodically beat the other youth. The other youth had to be hospitalized for several months before he recovered.


MYSTERIOUS phone calls "have been coming in frequently since her sons were adults, according to Belle.


For two or three years the phone would ring. All that could be heard was a recording of the song "Heartaches." No one ever answered.


Another caller about, four years ago, merely announced, "Your son is dead."


Weeks before Fred's death a man, "with an angry voice" called five or six times saying he was calling for Fred from Boston. His only explanation was that he would "be seeing Fred sometime



The night before Frank's disappearance, according to Belle, an out-of-town man checked in at the Bison. After offering a call girl $10, he took her in a cab to another Buffalo address where he picked up an envelope.


Presumably the envelope containing a large sum of money.


When they returned to the hotel the man upped his offer to the girl to $100. The

girl thought she saw the word "Boston" on the inside of the man's coat. Possibly, Belle reasons, he was in Buffalo to do the slaying for local people.

BELLE believes there might be a connection between the slaying of Arthur DeLuca, of this city, and the murder of her" sons. She said she saw DeLuca at her son's wake. "I think they (the killers) were all one big clique of friends."



CHIEF WHALEN said intensive investigation has showed no evidence that there is a link between the Aquinos' killings and the disappearance of Niagara Falls men or the murder of DeLuca.


Their only known connection was the Allen St. hangout, he says.


Fred Aquino, though younger, was the more cunning of the two brothers.


"At least three persons would have good reason to want Fred out of the way," Chief Whalen said. Police information shows that Fred cooperated with the FBI in information which led to the conviction of the big-time safe burglars.


He also is believed to have had a part in the Whitney St. killing in Buffalo of an Ohio State Prison escapee.


Police believe the escapee, Dominick Marfrici, of Cleveland, was killed after his part in a $15,000 robbery in Amherst Chief Whalen pointed out that Fred bought a new Cadillac after the killing.










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