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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Manhunt Chronicled

The February 2005 capture of Christopher DiMeo is one of the Nassau County Police Department’s (NCPD) finest hours, and involved so much drama that the Arts & Entertainment Channel debuted last week a program on the case. It will air again on A& E on Thursday, April 22 at 11 p.m. and can be viewed in its entirety online at www.aetv.com.

Mixing dramatizations with actual news footage, as well as taped interviews with the NCPD homicide detectives who cracked the case, the Fugitive Chronicles segment on DiMeo makes for incredibly compelling television. Yet it also brings back bad memories about the December 2004 death of Thomas Renison, who was killed in his Glen Head jewelry store while being robbed by the then-23-year-old DiMeo. Two months later, in early February 2005, DiMeo is believed to have murdered Kim and Timothy Donnelly, the husband and wife owners of a Fairfield, Connecticut jewelry store, also during a robbery, although the criminal case against DiMeo for that crime is still winding its way through the courts.

Due to the brutality of the attacks, there was enormous pressure on the NCPD to find out who was behind this crime spree, and get them off the street as soon as possible. Now-retired NCPD detective lieutenant Dennis Farrell, who was head of the homicide bureau at the time, and NCPD detective Billy Brosnan, the case’s lead investigator, offer viewers a first-hand account of how they and their colleagues narrowed the list of suspects through dogged police work. There were few witnesses to the murders because DiMeo waited until the stores had no customers in them before reaching for his gun, and running off with whatever valuables he could grab, the program illustrates.

“The Fugitive Chronicles did an excellent job of capturing the intensity of this investigation,” Farrell stated. “Most striking, I think, is that the viewer could unquestionably have a sense of the depth of these wanton, vicious murders. All too often similar programs fail to capture the devastation such crimes visit upon the families of victims such as Thomas Renison and Tim and Kim Donnelly.”

Without giving too much away about how events unfold, it should be noted that DiMeo’s eventual capture came about largely because of his mother, Maryann Taylor-Casey, who lived in Hicksville and shared her son’s addiction to heroin. DiMeo’s mother also had little use for DiMeo’s girlfriend and traveling companion, Nicole Pearce. The NCPD’s ability to secure these pieces of information gave the NCPD the confidence to issue an all-points bulletin (APB) for DiMeo. The manhunt drew national media interest, with the arrest of DiMeo and his girlfriend carried live on CNN.

Now, I’ve written previously about crime investigations, and one of ongoing themes involved in finding a fugitive, once law enforcement has settled on a specific suspect, is determining the whereabouts of that individual’s cell phone. Even when the phone isn’t in use, determining the device’s location is fairly easy. Many criminals, for whatever reason, have fortunately not figured this out as yet.

This original A&E series examines eight other cases, too, although no other will be of greater interest to Long Islanders than this one.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net