Unearthing a serial killer by D. Paul and K.F. McMurray is a thin book but make no mistake. It is filled with details that make this book stay in your mind forever. The book tells the story of murder victims Gary Stymiloski, Beverly Capone, Antonella Mattina, and given the wallet content of the killer, maybe five other women.
The man responsible for these killings is Alex J. Mengel. Mengel was born in 1955. When I read his name I kept misreading it as Mengele, as in Joseph Mengele. As I tried to correct myself, my eyes fell on the postscript. I quote: “Why did the Mengel Family immigrate to South America in the years following WWII? Was Alex Mengel born in West Germany or South America? And why is there a discrepancy? More intriguing, where, when and how did Alex J. Mengel acquire the skill-set of a killer?” Coincidence?
What Mengel did to the murder victims was cold-blooded, cruel, and calculated. In the period between February 24 and April 26 in 1985, Mengel killed Officer Gary Stymiloski, kidnapped and killed Beverly Capone, tried to pick up a teen while wearing a gruesome disguise, tried to kill Officer Clive Richards, altered Beverly’s driver’s license to cross the border with Canada, and assaulted Officer Fred Grunwald before he was finally killed with one shot by Officer Robert Stabile.
“Unearthing a serial killer” describes in detail how Mengel moved and fought to stay free. The book does justice to the victims as well. I like that.
A book that only tells me about the police chase and the killer’s trial falls short of humanity if I do not learn details about the victims. Gary Stymiloski had just proposed to the love of his life. Beverly Capone, a hardworking single mother, was excited about new career opportunities. Antonella Mattina, a teenager, was proud to run errands for her parents.
Mengel’s estranged wife Phyrween Mengel was instrumental in providing details the police used in their investigation. I admire her courage.
All victims suffered horrible with Beverly more so than the others. She had been scalped. I can only hope that it was done after she died. There is speculation whether Mengel’s actions “might have inspired parts of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of The Lambs.”
Antonella‘s murder cannot be definitely tied to Mengel. She disappeared on July 16, 1984. Her remains were found on Thanksgiving Day 1987. Just like Beverly Capone, Antonella was killed by multiple stabbing to her chest area. Officially, her case is unsolved. However, an eyewitness who had previously pointed police in the direction of Mengel described a man with Mengel’s profile as seen with Antonella on the day that she disappeared. But there is a twist to the story. Mengel has a brother, Gustav.
The following quotes are from the book: “Gustav Mengel was convicted in 2001 of two counts of sexual battery upon a thirteen year old girl, he spent nine and a half years in a Florida State prison. In 2011, he was arrested again for sexual battery on a childless than twelve years of age, there is no disposition in regards to this case.” Antonella was 13 years old when she disappeared.
Now combine that with this: “Alex Mengel’s older brother, Gustav, an electrician, lived at 31-18 Union Street in Flushing at the time of Antonella’s disappearance, just six blocks from the Linden Vue Shopping Center where Antonella was last seen.” Interesting.
I am left with questions:
- where did the semi-automatic came from that was made in Spain’s Basque County. How did Mengel get it?
- has anyone checked the NamUs database against the photographs of the five young women that was found in Mengel’s car?
- could Antonella and these five women have been victims of both brothers?
- are there any records in Europe about the Mengel family?
The authors told me that they will continue their research. I look forward to more.
Highly recommended reading.
Note: I received a free copy of this book (and photography) from the authors in exchange for an honest review.