New details have come to light about a 30-year-old cold case in New York that may be the work of a serial killer. Mary Murphy from our sister station WPIX shows us what investigators have learned -- including evidence that may link the case to Central Pennsylvania.
YONKERS, New York (WPIX) – When Westchester County Officer Gary Stymiloski was executed in his police vehicle 30 years ago this month during a car stop on the Saw Mill River Parkway, the brazen assassination on Feb. 24, 1985, was only one piece of a much larger puzzle involving a possible serial killer.
That’s the conclusion of an upcoming book, “Unearthing a Serial Killer,” by authors Kevin F. McMurray and David Paul.
The suspected cop killer—who was later apprehended in Toronto, Canada—was a 30-year-old Guyanese immigrant named Alex Mengel.
Mengel had kidnapped and carjacked 44-year-old Beverly Capone outside an IBM office in Dobbs Ferry, the day after Officer Stymiloski was killed. Mengel was driving Capone’s white Toyota when he was seized in Canada. During his road trip, he apparently tried to kidnap a 13-year-old newspaper girl in a town upstate. Capone’s scalp was found in the back of the white Toyota. Her body was discovered in the Catskill town of East Durham in mid-March 1985.
“I suspect Alex Mengel was involved in more than we know,” retired Detective Sgt. Tom McGurn told PIX11 News recently.
Detective McGurn was among the first responders to the scene near Yonkers Avenue where Officer Stymiloski’s vehicle and body were found, more than a mile away from the original location of the Mengel car stop. Mengel had told three friends to drive his own blue Toyota back to the Bronx.
Stymiloski, 27, had been shot in the left side of the head at close range and his police-issued weapon was missing. Investigators believed Mengel shoved the dead officer’s body to the side and jumped in the driver’s seat of the police car, dumping it at the new location in Yonkers.
Now, 30 years later, the two writers—McMurray and Paul–have dug up information indicating Alex Mengel was likely connected to the abduction and murder of a 12-year-old Queens girl in July 1984. They are also intrigued by the photos of five teenage schoolgirls found in Mengel’s car when it was discovered in the Bronx. The pictures were inside his wallet.
“They found some photographs of young women and also a map,” writer Kevin F. McMurray told PIX11 News. “And nobody seems to know them. We know there’s at least six women that have never been accounted for.”
The map showed a circled area around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with some X’s marked near woody areas. Alex Mengel was an avid hunter and was known to shoot—and shop for cars—in Pennsylvania.
McMurray and Paul have done extensive research for the book. They gained access to Westchester police documents in the Stymiloski case and learned of a possible Mengel connection to the kidnapping of 12-year-old Antonella Mattina on July 16, 1984, near a Citibank in Flushing, Queens.
The daughter of Italian immigrants had gone to the bank on a Monday morning to make a deposit for her parents.
“I never gave up, because I thought my daughter was still alive,” Joseph Mattina—Antonella’s father—recently said.
“No one had seen her,” Antonella’s older brother Leo recalled. “She never came back.”
After Mengel’s arrest was splashed across newspaper headlines in early March 1985, a witness contacted the 109 Precinct in Flushing and told investigators he had seen Mengel with Antonella Mattina on the day she vanished, the summer before.
By April 1985, Alex Mengel was dead. When he was being transported back to a Westchester County jail, Mengel tried to grab the gun of a state trooper in the back seat of an unmarked car. The car was traveling south on the Taconic State Parkway. Mengel was cuffed, but he managed to start biting the trooper sitting in the rear on the shoulder and neck. The trooper who was driving the car fatally shot Mengel to stop the attack.
Two and a half years later, on Thanksgiving Day 1987, a skull was found about 40 feet off the Taconic State Parkway in Yorktown, New York. The skull had braces on the teeth. A check of Antonella Mattina’s dental records proved the remains were hers.
“I want to know what happened. Who did this to my daughter?” Joseph Mattina told PIX11.
Mattina would ultimately learn that a murder suspect who was killed in state police custody was likely the same person who had kidnapped and murdered his daughter.
Tom McGurn—now retired from the Westchester County Police Department—always felt Mengel was linked to the Mattina murder.
“I always felt the girl that was found on the Taconic State Parkway could have been connected to him, because that’s the route he took to go hunting,” McGurn observed. “It was just too much of a coincidence for me.”
The authors have learned Mengel’s brother, Gustav, owned a home just six blocks away from where Antonella Mattina was abducted in Flushing in 1984. Gustav Mengel sold the house a few years later.
Gustav Mengel is now registered as a sex offender in Palm Beach County, Fla. He was convicted for having unlawful sex with a minor and went to prison. Until recently, he was living at a complex for registered sex offenders in Florida.
“It definitely raises a lot of questions,” Antonella Mattina’s brother said to PIX11. “Just the proximity of how close he lived to the shopping center.”
Gustav Mengel has never been charged with anything relating to Antonella Mattina’s case. But the girl’s family hopes the new book will spur people to come forward with information. They don’t know anything about the last hours of Antonella’s life. All they know is that bank employees saw Antonella make the deposit and then walk out.
“They said the (surveillance) camera was not working,” Leo Mattina told PIX11.
A larger question the authors hope to answer: Who are the teen girls in the wallet-sized photos? They’re hoping the Internet will help them find some clues.
“I think he prevented future murders,” retired Sergeant McGurn said of the late Officer Stymiloski. “Gary was a really good cop.”
It could have been the car stop that stopped a serial killer from claiming more victims. A stop that cost Officer Gary Stymiloski his life.