Vincent Paul Caciola (known as “Vince”) was reported missing on August 14, 1985 by his wife, Kimberly Rene Caciola (now Ms. Kimberly Grubbs). She said she left him at home late in the evening to get some items from her office on Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland.
When she came back around midnight, she saw her two children were sleeping alone upstairs and Vincent was gone. Some of his belongings were gone too such as a motorcycle helmet, a brown leather boots, gold rimmed prescription glasses, a denim jacket, and a tan velcro wallet.
On August 16, 1985 Vincent’s body was found by a trash crew worker at Patuxent River. He was next to a dirt road in a small wooded area leading to Fisherman’s Point, NAS Patuxent River. He was wrapped in a blanket.
The death was ruled a homicide. Vincent Caciola had been drugged, strangled, and his body placed on the air station. Authorities think that Vincent Caciola was murdered during roughly the same time frame when his wife last saw him alive and when she returned.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Cold Case Unit and the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) Cold Case Unit are now asking for the public’s support. Police believe Caciola was killed somewhere off the secure base as he was wearing a T-shirt, cutoff shorts, and white socks but had nothing else on him. Authorities believe that Vince was initially sedated with drugs before he eventually was strangled with a boot-type lace.
His body was filled with a lethal dose of a prescription drug that wasn’t his, and the affable, church-going 32-year-old didn’t have any obvious enemies. He was a proud new father, in a relatively new marriage, and he had a prosperous career ahead of him. Vince played the guitar and was a ham radio enthusiast.
Caciola, born in Washington, D.C., moved from Calvert County to St. Mary’s about five years before his death. He married Kimberly Lowery about two years before he died. They were raising two children — her son from a previous marriage and their own 7-month-old son.
As in most homicide cases, police immediately began questioning family members and close friends. Kimberly Caciola – now Kimberly Grubbs after remarring – has never been charged with a crime or officially been named a suspect, but her role in the case has drawn scrutiny over the years.
Shortly after Caciola’s death, a court battle ensued over roughly $200,000 in life insurance to be paid to his family. According to a 1986 story in The Enterprise, a Lexington Park, Md., newspaper, Caciola’s insurers refused to pay his widow because she could have been considered a suspect in his death. A judge later settled the matter, freeing some of the money to Caciola’s widow and some to his then-7-month-old son. Caciola’s father said each got $100,000.
Describing his son as “smart as a whip,” Orlando Caciola, 95, said that “Vince” was a great kid who was going places after graduating from the University of Maryland and taking on complex jobs as an engineer. He said that his son was really happy, loved his wife and new baby, and wanted nothing but the best for them. He also said that he was dumbfounded when he learned of his son’s death.
Orlando Caciola said he heard from his son’s widow on a regular basis for a long time after his death, but those communications abruptly ended more than 10 years ago. “All of a sudden, she stopped calling,” he said. “She stopped writing. Everything.” A widower, Orlando Caciola’s only remaining family is his grandson, the infant boy Vincent Caciola left behind. Orlando Caciola said he has trouble talking to his grandson, now 25, about what happened.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent Kaylyn Dueker, who is investigating the case, said authorities have developed “persons of interest” in the homicide and said she believes at least two people had to have been involved in Caciola’s death. She described Caciola’s relationships at the time as being with “highly intelligent” people who worked on sensitive matters at the base, though she said it does not appear that anything he was working on played a role in his death. “As time goes on, relationships change, and we’ve developed a lot of very good new information,” Dueker said. “We’ve been going over the old evidence developed in 1985 … and the change in relationships over the years has helped clarify things.” Dueker said authorities believe they know where Caciola was killed but did not want to release that location, as it is an ongoing investigation.
And where Caciola was found has significance, police said: he must have been killed – or his body dumped – by people with access to the secure naval base. “Somebody put him there,” Dueker said.
The NCIS cold case unit has solved 61 homicides since it was launched in 1995, and Dueker said she hopes Caciola’s case will add to that tally. She and local authorities are seeking more information about Caciola’s life and anything that might help her make an arrest in his death. “What’s unusual about cold cases is that sometimes people don’t realize they have information,” Dueker said. “We’re always looking for new information. We want to hear from people who knew him.”
Police ask that anyone with information about Caciola or his death contact
- Dueker at [email protected] or
- St. Mary’s Detective Clay Safford at [email protected] or
- Crime Solvers at (301) 475-3333
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