The CBS Murders by Richard Hammer (1987) is a non-fiction book that documents the senseless killing of three employees from CBS.
It was Monday after Easter, 12 April 1982, at the parking lot of Pier Ninety-two, Margaret Barbera, a bookkeeper, was about to go home. She tried to open her BMW but found it unusual that the door was jammed. So she went to the passenger side to open it. As she was about to open her car, she was shot.
Four CBS employees were on their way to their cars as well. They were Leo Kuramuki, CBS studio maintenance manager; Robert Schultze, CBS videotape maintenance manager; Edward Bemford, CBS broadcast technician and Angelo Sicca, CBS construction unit. All of them heard something popped, a thud, and a slam coming from a door of a van. Kuramuki went to where the sound came from and asked the van’s driver, “What’s going on?” The driver replied, “You didn’t see nothin’, did you?” and shot Kuramuki dead. Ten feet away, Schultze and Bemford saw Kuramuki and then they were shot dead, too. It was only Sicca who saw everything and pretended that he’s not inside his car.
The title “CBS Murders” was a misnomer. The crime was initially thought to be a crime against journalists, because three employees from a broadcasting network died. It became sensational. But actually the three CBS employees were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The intended victim was Margaret Barbera, who a few months ago was looking desperately for her missing partner, Jenny Soo Chin, and was also due to testify to a grand jury.
This crime was complicated that it took the New York Police and the FBI to collaborate on this case. And they did collaborate well. As investigators gathered for clues, it slowly revealed who Barbera was, who the killer was, and eventually, who the master mind was.
Barbera was a former bookkeeper for Candor Diamond Company owned by Irwin Margolies. Irwin Margolies, on the other hand, was a fraudulent businessman who kept on scamming business partners with millions worth of money and diamonds. The money he milked out from these scams enriched him and his wife Madelaine. They lived a life of excessive wealth for two years.
To cover up his schemes, Barbera would make up invoices, receipts, and other documents and present these to business partners in case of audit. Margolies planned to make Barbera his fall guy in case he gets caught. But Barbera was smart enough to keep the original books and sent it to her brother for safekeeping in case everything went wrong. And when everything caught up with Margolies, and learned that Barbera and her partner, Jenny Soo Chin, would testify against him, Margolies hired Donald Nash to kill them.
“There is no greater disaster than greed.” – Lao Tzu
Donald Nash agreed because he needed the money. He was due to appear in court on 13 April for a taxi fraud case anyway. He thought that the crime would not be traced back to him because he’s serving prison time. The prison would have been his hideout. However, due to some unexpected turn of events, he killed three CBS employees in the process. Worse, he didn’t show up in court.
Irwin Margolies insisted that he’s innocent of the murders. He tried his best to get out of jail using the money he has left behind. He never thought that his lawyer and friend, Henry Oestericher, and brother in-law, Scott Malen, would testify against him.
Donald Nash was sentenced to 100 years in prison for the four murders plus 28 years for the death of Jenny Soo Chin. Irwin Margolies was sentenced first with 28 years for fraud, then another fifty years for the murder of Barbera and Chin.
True, there is no greater disaster than greed. It was greed that lured him to commit fraud and paid Donald Nash to kill Margaret Barbera and Jenny Soo Chin which ultimately brought them to prison.
Although non-fiction, the book is an exciting read. The author was able to bring out the characters’ lives which makes you hate the villains and root for justice for the victims.
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