A 27-year-old Clifton man was convicted today of killing his wife, whose body was found in rural Delaware three weeks after her disappearance in June 1990.
The man, Eric Napoletano, showed little emotion when the jury read the verdict in the second day of deliberations. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced on June 25 by Judge Vincent Hull Jr. of Superior Court.
The authorities have said that Mr. Napoletano is also a suspect in the 1984 slaying of his former girlfriend, 15-year-old Marilyn Coludro, and the 1985 shooting death of a former mother-in-law, Gladys Matos. Mr. Napoletano has not been charged in either case.
Prosecutors said Mr. Napoletano's wife, Myra Acevedo Napoletano, 22, angered him by threatening to leave their marriage and take their two young sons to live with her parents in Puerto Rico.
The Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor, William Purdy, conceded that he lacked witnesses to the slaying. But he said enough evidence existed to show that Mr. Napoletano killed his wife on June 21, 1990, and dumped her body in a rural area of New Castle County, Delaware, about 15 miles south of the New Jersey border.
MAMA & MURDER
Sunday, June 9th 1996
CAROLYN NAPOLETANO, currently a police administrative assistant at the NYPD's Midtown North precinct, may have redefined "motherly love."
Her only son, Eric, is a "sexually sadistic serial killer," according to the FBI.
But throughout investigations, trials and convictions, Carolyn has remained Eric's champion.
Her unyielding devotion to Eric, as told in a new book by former Daily News reporter Richard Pienciak, "Mama's Boy: The True Story of a Serial Killer and His Mother," led to nearly a dozen criminal charges against her.
In 1991, she stood accused of conspiracy, lying to police, tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness in a murder investigation.
Eric, now serving a minimum of 47 1/2 years in prison, has been convicted of one murder in New Jersey and pleaded guilty to another murder in Queens. He also remains the only suspect in a Bronx killing.
Last month, he struck a deal that likely spares his mother from prosecution.
"We were more friends than son and mother," Carolyn told Pienciak in one of several extensive interviews, "because Eric and I were always like brother and sister."
After Eric stabbed his 15-year-old girlfriend, Marilyn Coludro, several times in her Queens apartment and dumped her body in Pennsylvania in 1984, Carolyn's reaction was that the girl "was no angel."
"She had other boyfriends," explained Carolyn.
Two years passed before Coludro's corpse was identified.
In 1985, Eric was suspected of gunning down Gladys Matos, the mother of his first wife, Wanda, in the Bronx.
Carolyn later offered different alibis for Eric he was asleep on her couch, she said once, or eating breakfast in a diner downtown, she said another time. She also filed a complaint against a detective in the case.
Eric has never been charged in Matos' death, a case still open in the Bronx.
Strangled 2d Wife
In 1990, Eric strangled his second wife, 22-year-old Myra Acevedo in Clifton, N.J., by tying a rope around her neck while their two young boys watched.
Carolyn provided alibis all of which placed her with Eric on the night of the murder.
Carolyn always defended Eric's innocence.
"Eric doesn't have a mean bone in his body," she insisted. "I know him really good."
Last May 14, Eric finally pleaded guilty to the murder of Coludro in Queens. In return, New Jersey authorities agreed not to prosecute his mother.
Born on April 21, 1940, in New Brunswick, N.J., Carolyn Hankinson spent the early years of her career in New York City as an auxiliary cop. At age 24, she was living in Queens, where one night she met Eric Ernest Napoletano in a bar.
Though their romance was brief, its effects were long-lasting: Carolyn left the relationship pregnant.
Adopting the departed father's name, Carolyn gave birth to Eric Ernest Napoletano Jr., on May 2, 1965, in the Bronx. She later told Eric his father had died.
Young Eric had a tumultuous childhood, filled with fights with his mother and visits to mental institutions. After several hospitalizations, 11-year-old Eric returned home to his mother's apartment only briefly, before moving in with a 48-year-old man who befriended him.
Carolyn all but turned responsibility for Eric to the man. Yet she maintained a strong relationship with her son, adamant that he become a New York City police officer.
When Eric dropped out of the Marines at age 18, hurting his chances of joining the NYPD, Carolyn was furious.
"CHANGE YOUR MIND BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!" Carolyn wrote her son.
But Eric's mind already was set on another course; a few months later, he killed Coludro.
Between the ages of 18 and 24, the scrawny, dark-haired Eric Napoletano fell "in love" at least five times.
Each time, according to author Pienciak, Eric followed the same routine. He set his sights on a young, minority woman the type Carolyn despised and referred to with racial slurs.
Then, suddenly, Eric would become abusive with his lover. Torture and handcuffing were routine tactics; the threat of abandonment brought further wrath, and, twice death.
Feds Moved In
The killing of Acevedo ultimately proved his undoing.
On March 27, 1991, federal agents closed in on Eric in his Albuquerque, N.M., hideout.
Seven years had gone by since Eric had first killed. Myra Acevedo, Marilyn Coludro and Gladys Matos were all dead; agents fearing for the life of Eric's latest lover had finally gathered enough evidence to obtain a search warrant.
So while a SWAT team rifled through his apartment, Eric ran to call his mother on a pay phone.
"How did they get to you?" Carolyn demanded, according to transcripts of wiretaps.
"It says they want any letters written in 1990 . . . ," said Eric, reading his mother the search warrant. "They're looking for any evidence into, it says, the beatings of Wanda Matos."
"There's nothing," Carolyn said confidently.
"Right," Eric agreed. "And the murder of Gladys."
"There's nothing," Carolyn said again.
"The kidnaping and murder of Myra," Eric continued.
"And the murder of Marilyn. . ."
"Okay," said Carol. "I have not sent you any letters. I have only sent you newspaper clippings. And if they ask you why, you say, 'My mother keeps me up to date.' "
But in 1993 a Passaic County jury convicted Eric Napoletano of Myra Acevedo's murder. He is serving 321/2 years to life in Trenton State Prison.
Eric's May 14 confession to the killing of Marilyn Coludro also adds another 15 years to his sentence.
Carolyn Napoletano, who was charged with conspiracy and lying to police, faces only a one-year "pre-trial intervention" program in New Jersey.
William Purdy, chief assistant prosecutor in the Passaic County prosecutor's office, homicide division, characterized the program as a one-year probation period.
"There's no admission of guilt, but the charges are still technically open," Purdy said. "They will not be technically dismissed until she completes this probationary period."
NYPD spokesman Detective Julio Martinez said Napoletano is "still employed" at Midtown North.
"Whatever investigation is taking place or has taken place has so far not affected her work," he said.