Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Feminism on Trial

Moises Chayo

In November 1965 Moises Chayo was in New Orleans overseeing the treatment of his 23-year-old son, Raymond, for phlebitis at the world-renowned Ochsner Clinic. The story of his life, as told in later newspaper accounts, was the Horatio Alger story of a self-made man, with a foreign twist. The youngest child born into a large, poor Jewish family in Aleppo, Syria in 1903, he moved to New York City after getting married. There he opened an import-export business. In 1950, after his son and two daughters were born, he moved the family to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In Buenos Aires, Chayo started a successful vacuum cleaner factory. He and his family prospered, hiring servants and chauffeurs, and they hobnobbed among the wealthy elite of the Argentine capital's society. Photographs of him that accompanied the articles showed a heavy-set man, almost completely bald with just a fringe of gray hair circling his head from one ear to the other. He had a bulbous nose, dark eyes, and a winning smile. At the time of his death he was 62.

Raymond was in the hospital for a month and a half, and his father came to visit him regularly while staying at a nearby motel. On the day of Raymond's discharge, his father was scheduled to pick him up and pay the bill. The plan was for the two of them to fly to Panama where Raymond had a business and his father was going to help him with it. However, when the day arrived, on November 21, Moises Chayo wasn't there. By the next day a search was on.

Two weeks after Moises Chayo's disappearance, Raymond was notified that the body of a man believed to be his father was found in a remote canal (drainage ditch) in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie. He returned to New Orleans but, by that time, the body had been so badly decomposed that it was not possible for Raymond to identify it. Reportedly he never saw the body but he identified items found on the body as belonging to his father. Raymond accompanied the casket bearing his father's remains back to Argentina for burial.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office officially classified Chayo's death as a homicide. The autopsy revealed the cause of death to be trauma resulting from one or more blows to the head with a blunt weapon. His body had been discarded in the canal where he hemorrhaged to death. Although a burgeoning suburb today, Metairie in 1965 was largely unsettled. The canal was in one of those unsettled areas and two weeks would pass before Chayo's body was found.


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