September 8, 2016

The Disappearance and Murder of Anne Marie Fahey

I am afraid because I am in love with a man who has a family. . . . I fantasize my life with him all the time. He is very gentle, intelligent, handsome and interesting. - Anne Marie Fahey Diary Entry, April 24, 1994

Our relationship is finished. . . . I know it is my problem and my fault. . . . I told him things that were hidden inside me. - Anne Marie Fahey Diary Entry, April 26, 1994

I have finally brought closure to Tom Capano. What a controlling, manipulative, insecure, jealous maniac. . . . For one whole year, I allowed someone to take control of every decision of my life. - Anne Marie Fahey Diary Entry, April 7, 1996

Anne Marie Fahey's disappearance from Wilmington, Delaware on the evening of June 27-28, 1996 did more than eventually destroy Tom Capano's reputation, career and take away his freedom; it crushed the innocence of the city itself.  Capano had been a mover and shaker in Wilmington; one of the people to be admired, awed of and envied.  His relationship with Anne Marie and his decision to murder her would cast a long and ugly light on him and the circles in which he moved.

It says a lot about Capano that he thought he could take Anne Marie out for dinner on the night of Thursday, June 27, 1996, kill her at some point after, that no one would recognize she was missing until at least Monday (as she had that Friday off from work) and that his account of events that evening would be taken and accepted without dissent.  This arrogance would carry over into his trial where it would be out in full force as he took the stand and testified; to say that the jury hated him would be an understatement.

That Anne Marie worked for Delaware Governor Tom Carper and her disappearance would get the attention of the media and other higher ups never seemed to occur to Capano; he must have been shocked when then President Bill Clinton had offered aid in the search for Anne Marie.  When the television cameras from Hard Copy arrived in town a day after a front page New York Times article on the disappearance was printed in early July, he must have been downright apoplectic.

Capano had met the outgoing and bubbly scheduling secretary for Governor Carper in the spring of 1994.  Both moved in similar political/professional circles and when they finally met, the attraction apparently was instant.  Ultimately it seemed not to matter that he was married with four daughters; he told Anne Marie that the marriage was over in all but name and she came to accept that she would be a mistress, a side girlfriend, if the relationship progressed any further than friendship.   This was new to her, a relationship with a married man but Capano was an old hand at the marital infidelity game.  He had cheated on his wife multiple times; at the time he met Anne Marie, he had a fifteen year affair going on with Deborah MacIntyre, the ex-wife of his former legal partner. MacIntyre was also a friend of his wife.  Yikes.

Anne Marie knew nothing about MacIntyre or Capano's previous dodgy behavior.  She fell in love.  Looking at pictures of Tom Capano it's hard to understand but reports say that he was charming, intelligent and self-assured.  That confidence would have been attractive to someone like Anne Marie, whose outgoing nature was a front for the self-esteem issues that crippled her to the point of anorexia and bulimia.  Capano's financial freedom and his generosity would also have been extremely attractive to a woman who had come from a working class household and who struggled financially her entire life.

For nearly two years it seems that Anne Marie Fahey conducted an on and off affair with Tom Capano.  She would vacation with him to Virginia; during the car ride she would make a list of their differences, a list that would be read with great sadness in the future.  Their similarities were slight . . . both came from large families and both appeared to be equally fascinated with Tom Capano.  When Anne Marie needed to repair her car windshield, it was Capano who gave her the money.  He treated her to fancy dinners, new clothing and handbags and even gave one of her friends pro bono legal advice on a new business.  At one point, she fantasized about Capano leaving his wife and marrying her.

It would never happen, of course.  Capano was a serial adulterer; MacIntyre, his longtime mistress, also expected that he would leave his wife for her.  Anne Marie was a lovely young woman, a challenge and someone he could control.  I think the control was the greatest attraction for him.

Anne Marie tried to break off from Capano but he knew too much about her.  He knew of her fears, he knew of her guilt over being involved in the affair.  He knew of her eating disorders; he knew that she saw a therapist and took Prozac.  All these things that made Anne Marie self-conscious, he did not hesitate to use any and all of them against her.    He would call her many, many times during the day; send her flowers and excessive emails, all in an attempt to wear her down and regain the upper hand.  He would tell her he needed her, that he was leaving his family for her.  He would demand that she return everything he had gifted her with.

She thought that even if their romantic relationship ended, they could remain friends.  She was kidding herself.  Maybe she knew it; maybe not.  She told a few people that she was afraid of Capano and his controlling nature; that she worried he would hurt her.  Yet when she fell ill because of her disorder it was Capano she called to pick her up from work and nurse her. She wanted to be rescued but Capano was anything but a knight in shining armor.

At Christmas of 1995, he had gifted her with an airline ticket to Spain.  She refused the gift.  This could have been part and parcel of their relationship history but something else had changed.  She had met someone.  Michael Scanlan was an executive, Anne Marie's age and single.  He treated her well and they had fun together. She fell in love with him and it seems that if he hadn't fallen in love with Anne Marie, he was getting there.  Tom Capano no longer had a place in her life.

I think this is why he killed her.  He couldn't control her any longer.  She was done with him before he was ready for her to be.  She told him no. It would take him seven months following Christmas but he would do it.

It's unknown why, after she had written the diary excerpt above, Anne Marie resumed contact with Capano.  Why didn't she simply walk away?  Why didn't she mention to Governor Carper that Capano was pushing her and making her uncomfortable?  Sure, it would have been embarrassing to admit to your boss that you were in a relationship with Capano but by that point, he and his wife had separated.  I do understand that she didn't want anyone thinking less of her for her relationship with Capano, especially her boss, her family and her boyfriend.  Anne Marie lived in fear that Capano would tell Michael Scanlan everything and it would destroy her relationship with him.

I think Anne Marie broke off the relationship with Capano once and for all the night of June 27.  Witnesses remembered later that the couple having dinner at the Panorama restaurant did not appear to be happy; things seemed to be tense.  Anne Marie barely touched her food, getting the majority of it in a "to go" container.  Their server would recall that there was none of the happy and/or light chatter that was normally exchanged over the dinner table.

Capano would later tell authorities that he took Anne Marie home after dinner, dropping her at her apartment around 10 p.m. and that was the last he saw of her.  I don't believe she ever returned home that evening; if she had, it's unlikely she would have left again to voluntarily accompany him to his home.  Not only that, but the obsessively neat and orderly Anne Marie would never have left her dress slung over a chair or food items on her kitchen counter.  I think he drove her to his home and perhaps cajoled her into staying, at least briefly.  It was a Thursday evening and apparently both enjoyed watching L.A. Law, then airing.  I think it's possible that he suggested Anne Marie get comfortable by taking off her dress, perhaps even gave her something casual to wear, while watching the program.  (I say this because when her dress was discovered in her apartment later there was no blood found on it.)  She may have agreed to watch the show with him in order to maintain some sense of peace; she may have demanded to be taken home.  It's unknown.  What is fairly certain is that at some point, Capano came up behind her as she sat on the sofa and shot her in the head just above her left ear.  Anne Marie, thankfully, probably never knew.

The cooler that held Anne Marie's body being brought into court
He put her body in a large Igloo ice cooler he had purchased a few days earlier; the kind of cooler that deep sea fishermen use for their catch.  She was tall, around five foot ten; he would be forced to break her legs in order to get her body inside and close the lid.  He chained the cooler and left it in the garage.    

It was then that he returned to Anne Marie's apartment to set the stage.  He placed the dress she had been wearing on a chair in her bedroom, along with her shoes.  He had bought her a pantsuit she had admired from Talbot's; the unopened box would be found in her bedroom several days later.  (The tissue paper was still wrapped around the garment with the seal unbroken.  I think Anne Marie had refused the gift that evening, something else that would have angered him.)  He put her handbag, with her wallet inside, on the kitchen counter, next to the takeout container from dinner.  He also left a grocery bag of fruit on the counter, something he had purchased for her earlier.  He turned her air conditioning unit on and then left, locking the front door behind him with her key.

The next day he would talk his youngest brother, the one he had helped repeatedly, the one with a boat, into helping him dispose of Anne Marie Fahey, throwing her into the Atlantic and a watery grave in which she would never be recovered.  It would be his brother's statements and testimony that would finally shed light on what exactly had happened to Anne Marie.

Capano would also discard his sofa and a rug underneath, ostensibly because of bloodstains.  He would clean up his living room but not quite to perfection; a small drop of blood would later be found on the baseboard and be determined to be Anne Marie's.

Later, authorities would connect a new rug purchase to the day after Anne Marie was last seen as well as the ice chest, which would be recovered.  Both were linked to Capano.  It was discovered that Capano told MacIntyre that he was being harassed and worried for his safety; she would purchase the gun that he would use to murder Anne Marie.  Eventually she too would turn against Capano and testify against him.

Before Capano's trial began in October of 1998, excerpts from Anne Marie's diary were printed in the local paper and shared with the media.  If she had known, the painfully private Anne Marie would have been mortified.  Sadly, some of the entries, taken out of context, presented Anne Marie as the "head case" Capano insisted she was, detailing her therapy, her Prozac use and her dysfunctional relationship with food.  She wasn't without her flaws and troubled behavior but she was a victim.  No matter what she did, Anne Marie Fahey did not deserve to be killed.

Capano's defense would claim that MacIntyre had killed Anne Marie accidentally as she and Capano had struggled with the gun, resulting in the gun firing and striking Anne Marie.  The jury, after listening to the evidence over twelve weeks, didn't buy it and despite not having a body nor even an absolute cause of death, they found him guilty of first-degree murder.   Capano himself might have done more to insure his conviction than the testimony of MacIntyre and his brother combined.  Neither were particularly likable or sympathetic witnesses.

In January of  1999, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection.  An appeal followed and while the Supreme Court reaffirmed his conviction, his sentencing was remanded due to the penalty being a non-unanimous jury verdict.  The state elected not to go after capital punishment again, giving Capano a gift he refused Anne Marie; he was sentenced to life in prison.

Unlike some inmates, Capano did indeed serve life; he was found dead in his cell on September 19, 2011 during a routine check.  The medical examiner determined that he had died of cardiac arrest due to cardiovascular disease and obesity.  The sleek and suave Tom Capano that charmed Anne Marie Fahey was dead and gone.

As is the case with so many of these stories, I am left wondering why.  Why did Anne Marie Fahey continue the cat and mouse game with Capano?  Why couldn't she seem to let it go?  Why couldn't he?  Not that it matters but Capano hardly lacked for female companionship; at the time he killed Anne Marie he was grooming another mistress (in addition to MacIntyre) and had even gone out to dinner with a former employee, a woman he had had a brief fling with years earlier, trying to woo her back.  Clearly Anne Marie meant little to him; so why not let her go and do her thing?

I think it all boils down to control.  Tom Capano had controlled Anne Marie for more than two years.  He had been able to control her moods, her plans, her entire life with a phone call, email or snap of his fingers.  He liked it.  He didn't want to lose that and certainly not because she decided to end it.  She may have been relieved to have someone control her, in the beginning.  Most sufferers of an eating disorder fear the loss of control; having Capano control her would have alleviated some of that burden.  At least at first.  But eventually she would tire of his neverending need for control and his inability to focus on anyone but himself.  When Anne Marie Fahey said no to him, I think Tom Capano was filled with fear.  Her refusal caused him to question everything he knew about himself, to put a crack in the self-esteem and the narcissistic mirror he looked into daily.  He couldn't have that.  He needed to be in control; he needed those feelings of power back, no matter what it took.  It took killing Anne Marie to get them back.

 I also think he had no desire to "lose" to Michael Scanlan. Capano had been entitled and catered to nearly his entire life; he was his mother's favorite child, the one who could do no wrong, the one who set the bar for his brothers to emulate and follow.  He didn't lose.  Some little secretary was not going to throw one over on Tom Capano.

This is exactly what happened, in my opinion, with the Simpson case.  O.J. Simpson had controlled Nicole Brown from the time he met her, two or three months after she graduated from high school and turned eighteen.  Her entire adult life had consisted of and been controlled by O.J. Simpson, until June of 1994.  Once she had cut the controlling ties, the only way Simpson could possibly control her was by killing her.  Also like Simpson, Capano would present himself to be the victim in the case, aiming to create and receive more sympathy than the actual dead, the woman he claimed to love so much but who he gave little more than passing thoughts to.  Like Simpson, he may have blamed his victim for her death; she made him do it.  Simpson and Capano, two narcissistic, murdering peas in a pod.

I've also thought about why Capano used MacIntyre to get a gun for him.  With his connections and those his brothers had, he surely could have gotten a gun on the down low and then gotten rid of it once it served its purpose, never to be connected to him.  So why bring in MacIntyre?  I think it was his "out" plan for her.  He believed that he had distanced himself from Anne Marie's death; there was no body, he believed no blood in his home and her apartment had no signs of struggle or a crime.  Anne Marie had simply vanished.  I think his thought was that if anything surfaced, he could blame MacIntyre.  He could suggest that perhaps she had found out about Anne Marie and with her crazy jealousy . . . She did own a gun, after all, registered in her name.  MacIntyre was expendable.  It was his Hail Mary.  What he didn't know, of course, was that Anne Marie had written about him in her diary, that she had spoken to her hair stylist about their affair and her fears, that a small drop of her blood was in his living room and that he had overstaged her apartment, leaving it in a way she never would.  He had also overestimated his brother, believing that he would not crumble once the cops raided his home.  He was wrong.

Prior to that summer of 1996, Tom Capano had been the "good" Capano. Two of his brothers had had serious run-ins with the law; one for bribery and kickbacks (and prison time was avoided by his cooperating with the FBI) and one for kidnapping and rape, which resulted in incarceration.  His youngest brother, the one who had helped him get rid of Anne Marie's body and who had testified against him in his trial, was known to run with a questionable crowd, drug dealers and users.  The youngest Capano seemed to live on the edge, with an insatiable need for excitement and thrills.  Tom Capano certainly provided him with that on Friday, June 28, 1996.  He would later say that he would never be able to get the image of a human calf and foot disappearing into the ocean.

Capano destroyed his career and brought shame to his ex-wife, his daughters, his mother and his law firm.  He effectively made his children fatherless.  Worse, far worse, he killed Anne Marie Fahey, the woman who had fallen in love with him at one point and within two years, was calling him a controlling, manipulative maniac.  In Anne Marie's diary, she only referred to Capano by his actual name once and that was in her last entry, the one from April 7, 1996, where she wrote that she had finally brought closure to him.  She wrote this less than three months before he would murder her.

The pain Anne Marie's family and friends felt and feel to this day is a special agony known only to those with missing loved ones.  By his violent and selfish actions, Capano allowed the Faheys to be kept in the dark for weeks while knowing that she was dead and never coming home. He denied them the closure of having Anne Marie's remains and giving their sister a proper burial.  They know she is dead and gone - - they probably knew it the moment they saw her apartment and realized she had not been heard from for three days - - but they were never able to say goodbye to her.  They did memorialize Anne Marie and her life with a bench and plaque in a park that she liked to visit.  Dedicated in 1997, it's still there today.

A memorial for Anne Marie in Brandywine Park, Wilmington

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