Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Rise and Fall of Thomas Capano

An Unexpected Boost

Thomas Capano
Thomas Capano

Tom Capano was the most likely suspect, given what Annie's diary had said and the fact that he seemed to have been the last person to see her alive.  A neighbor said he'd sometimes sit outside the building in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the last time he was seen doing this was two weeks earlier.

However, he was an upstanding citizen, the eldest son of a family who had risen to wealth and influence in the construction trade.  He'd been a trusted political strategist, the city attorney, a successful prosecutor and legal counsel to one of the governors.  For now, they would just try to find out if he knew anything at all before jumping to conclusions.  Anne Marie might even be with him.  Despite her written declaration three months earlier, people had seen them together.

They went to the house where Capano had been living on Grant Avenue since separating the year before from his wife of 23 years, Kay Capano.  It was 3:30 in the morning.  After a few minutes, Capano answered, looking as if he'd been asleep.  Yet he'd already been alerted to why they were there.

He admitted taking Anne Marie to dinner on the night in question, but insisted that he'd taken her home afterward, along with a bag of groceries.  He had no idea where she was, but he knew she had planned to take a day off and go to the beach.  She was air-headed, he added, and unpredictable.  She'd also had an argument with her sister that week, and she suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts.

While Capano gave them no real leads, they knew they'd need more answers, either from him or from someone who knew him.

Then a conversation with Anne Marie's therapist revealed that Anne Marie was afraid of Tom Capano.  He'd stalked and harassed her, but she'd been unable to report him to authorities.  She did not want to embarrass her boss, Governor Tom Carper.

It wasn't long before Detective Robert Donovan, assigned to head the case, discovered Capano's first lie.  He said he'd stopped at a Getty station to purchase cigarettes on the night of Annie's disappearance, Thursday, around 10:00.  The attendant knew Capano and said he hadn't been there.  Not only that, the station closed at 9:30.

The next time Donovan questioned Capano, something was wrong, but there was nothing he could put his finger on.  Capano was just more agitated and uncooperative.  Then Capano sent in his attorneys, through whom all remaining questions would be asked.  That, too, was suspicious.

Donovan went ahead to check with the Philadelphia restaurant where Anne Marie and Tom Capano had dined, and that brought a new revelation: Capano had been domineering, had selected what Annie was to eat, she had looked ill, and they both had been in a bad mood.  Anne Marie, said the waitress, had barely touched her food.  Apparently this was no amiable dinner between friends.

Then Anne Marie's hairdresser called and said that Annie had been scared of Capano.

On July 5, the search for Annie got an unexpected boost: Tom Carper received a phone call from President Bill Clinton.  Some of his own staff knew the young woman and he was concerned.  He promised to look into getting assistance from federal sources.

Now everyone involved in the investigation was uncomfortable.  The Capano family was one of Delaware's most notable.  Tom Capano, 47, had always seemed upright and sober.  Smart, well dressed, and articulate, he made a good impression on people with his confident, friendly manner.  No scandal of any kind had been attached to his name.  In fact, he was currently the managing partner of a powerful law firm.  Nevertheless, it wasn't unusual that a powerful wealthy man believed himself to be above the law.  A secret affair generally spelled bad news.


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