Breach of Silence
Today Donovan has gone beyond mere suspicion. After a grueling 17-month investigation in collaboration with federal authorities, Capano, 48, who once considered running for Delaware attorney general, was charged on Nov. 12 with first-degree murder. The final pieces of the puzzle—including details of the dumping of Fahey's body into the Atlantic—came from two of the suspect's own brothers.
"It's unbelievable how one event can hurt so many people," says Tom Maloney, a former Wilmington mayor familiar with both the Faheys and the equally close-knit Capano clan. "You look at a family being torn apart and a family with no body to bury. There's no closure to this kind of thing."
The lack of a body was but one of the factors that made the Fahey case so challenging. The vivacious Anne Marie, 30, a scheduler for Gov. Thomas Carper, had been missing two days by the time her worried family phoned police. "I knew it was going to be a long process," says Donovan, one of two lead investigators. "He had a couple of day's head start."
Almost from the beginning, Capano, the second of five children of an Italian immigrant father who made his fortune as a real estate developer, was the focus of scrutiny. Fahey's diaries revealed her turbulent, nearly three-year relationship with the father of four, who had recently separated from his wife—and her struggle to end it. "What a controlling, manipulative, insecure, jealous maniac," she wrote of Capano in April 1996.
Physical evidence, however, was sparse. By July 31, 1996, when investigators combed Capano's rented Wilmington home, carpeting and furniture had been replaced. And before they could search the Summer Wind—the 25-foot power boat belonging to Capano's brother Gerard, 34, which had put out to sea the day after Fahey disappeared—it had been scrubbed clean and sold. Although specks of blood from Capano's house were linked to Fahey, authorities felt they didn't have enough to proceed.
Not enough, that is, until Gerard and brother Louis, 46, apparently became convinced that it would be in their interest to cooperate with police. In October, after 21 guns and a small amount of drugs were seized in a raid of Gerard's Wilmington home, state officials opened a probe into whether he should lose custody of his two small children. (That probe was closed. Sources say Gerard will plead guilty to abetting a felony and will not face charges for the guns and drugs.) Meanwhile Louis, boss of the family business since his father's death in 1980, was subpoenaed twice by a grand jury and investigated by the IRS. He subsequently pleaded guilty to harassing a witness in the Fahey case.
"It was obvious the government was going to pull every device known in order to try and nail him," says lawyer Joseph Hurley of his client Thomas Capano, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence. "Tom has said now he understands why Gerry was avoiding him."
It was Gerard who confessed to helping Thomas dump the body on June 28, 1996. According to the arrest affidavit, the pair took the corpse, stowed in a large cooler, from Thomas's home to Gerard's beach house in exclusive Stone Harbor, N.J., where Gerard kept his boat. Sixty to 75 miles offshore, Gerard told authorities, Thomas dumped the cooler, only to find it wouldn't sink.
At that point, according to authorities, Gerard frantically fired at the cooler with a shotgun kept on the boat. It remained afloat. Finally Thomas dragged the cooler back on board, wrapped Fahey's body in a chain and anchor and threw it, along with the cooler, into the water. (Following his arrest, some fishermen came forward with a large cooler they said they had discovered near Stone Harbor a few days after Fahey was reported missing.)
As for the Fahey family, on the day after Capano was jailed without bail awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 20, three of Anne Marie's brothers, their wives and their pregnant sister Kathleen Fahey-Hosey gathered in Wilmington at O'Friels Irish Pub, owned by their friend Kevin Freel. Sipping mugs of Irish lager, the family hugged and cheered the arrest of Anne Marie's alleged killer. And they talked about Fahey-Hosey's expected baby. "Obviously we're all hoping it's a girl," says Freel. "I don't think there's any doubt what her name will be."
LINDA KRAMER and ROSE ELLEN O'CONNOR in Wilmington and J. JENNINGS MOSS in Stone Harbor