The Wrongful Conviction of Alfred Trenkler
There was only one person that had motive, means and oppurtunity
No one had more motive in building this bomb than Thomas Shay Sr. While being cross-examined Sr. admitted that he had filed a total of 10 lawsuits over the course of his lifetime. Most of these lawsuits were for minor accidents (slip and falls or car accidents). Either Sr. was the world's most unlucky person or he used litigation as a career. Not surprisingly during the time the black box was found, Sr. had another lawsuit pending that wasn't going very well, against 2 men that owned a garage where Sr. use to lease space. These men, Jeff Berry and Anthony Giammarco were accused of causing harm to Sr. when a half a stick of dynamite was thrown into a barrel at their garage in October of 1987. In November of 1989, Sr. filed a report of metal scraps being dumped in his driveway claiming that Berry and Giammarco were out to intimidate him. Sr. claims to have instigated the lawsuit because these two episodes caused him to become physically injured and mentally paranoid preventing him from working (it probably didn't hurt that Berry and Giammarco had insurance coverage up to $400,000). Sr. had been telling people, including psychiatrists hired by the defendant's insurance company, for two years that he was convinced Berry and Giamarco were taking steps to kill him, including the planting of a bomb under the seat of his car.Just prior to the bombing, depositions had been taken by the insurance company. The insurance company chalked up Shay's paranoia as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that his injuries were nonexistent. With this and the lawsuit stalled Shay had to take action to show that the threats against his life were valid. What better way than to build a bomb and report it to the police as proof to the insurance company that someone was out to kill him.
Other suspects that were initially considered and later discounted due to the overwhelming evidence against Shay Sr.
JEFF BERRY AND ANTHONY GIAMMARCO
Berry and Giammarco had no logical motive to build a bomb to kill Sr. In October 1989 after Sr. was no longer leasing space from them, they dumped Sr.'s metal parts that he had left behind at their garage in his driveway. Not as an act of intimidation but so that they didn't have to store his junk at their place of business. There is no reason why Berry and Giammarco would have built this bomb since it would reinforce Sr.'s claims. If they killed him it would be proof that someone was after him and the lawsuit would still progress leaving them the prime suspects. On the other hand, they knew that when it was proven Sr. was faking his injuries the lawsuit would go away.
The only items pointing at Berry and Giamarco:
- One of the two had taken a polygraph test given by the ATF and was said to be giving deceptive answers (Giammarco).
- They both had access to a source of explosives
- They obviously knew about the lawsuit
- They were keep track of Shay during the lawsuit (hired an investigator)
In June 1992, Derrick Massey had reported to police that his roommate, Dennis Owen had thrown sulfuric acid at his face. Massey claimed that Owen bragged that he was in the process of building a bomb to kill two Boston Police Officers and that this bomb was just like the one he made that killed the cop at Shay's house, only this bomb was going to work. At the time of this conversation it was not public knowledge that the Roslindale bomb had exploded accidentally. Massey gave a detailed accounting to police and the ATF about key attributes of the Owen bomb that were very similar to the Roslindale bomb that had not at that time been made public. As a result, the Boston Police Bomb Squad, the ATF and in a highly unusual move, AUSA Paul Kelly stormed the Owen apartment where they found three wired devices with everything but an explosive charge. Inexplicably, within a matter of days, Owen was ruled out as a suspect.
Of particular notice concerning Owens:
- Massey told police that Owen showed him blasting caps, just like the Roslindale bomb.
- Massey was shown magnets that had to be ordered from speciality outfits just like the Roslindale bomb.
- Massey discussed observing Owen with a black box with magnets glued to it just like the Roslindale bomb.
- A bomb with magnets on it would suggest planned attachment to something metal just like the Roslindale bomb.
- Massey observed Owen soldering wires just like the Roslindale bomb.
- Owen admitted to detectives of being a chemist and that he had recently handled explosives and blasting caps for a Cambridge construction company.
- Owen's had a lengthy criminal record and just returned from a stint in prison and was not financially stable.
Ian Medoff, also criminal with a lengthy past, had been named as a possible suspect by Edwin Gaeta, a federal inmate who had met Jr. and Alfred at separate times and places within the prison system during their incareration for this crime. According to Gaeta, Medoff told Gaeta that Jr. had asked Medoff to make a bomb to kill his father ( Sr.) in exchange for a payment of $10,000. At the time, Medoff was deeply in debt. Several weeks later, Medoff offered to split the $10,000 with Gaeta, if Gaeta would shoot Sr. instead of building a bomb (since Gaeta did not know how to build a bomb). What was significant about Gaeta's story was that Medoff told Gaeta that the dynamite was "sweating." This is significant because "sweating" dynamite indicates it is old, dangerous, unstable and could explode on its own without blasting caps or a remote control device. The dynamite in the Roslindale bomb was said to have been unwrapped from the normal cardboard tube and re wrapped in a magazine page with layers of duct and electrical tape. "Sweating" dynamite could be the reason for the repackaging of the bomb and not, as the government surmised, to hide its existence. Ian Medoff appears to be a weak suspect since Jr. did not have any money let alone $10,000 but then again there was the $400,000 in insurance money from the lawsuit that the prosecution believed to be a motive maker. Not surprisingly, Medoff left the state as a result of the ATF asking him questions.