Annie DiMassino, wearing her volunteer badge, helped steer Glen Cove through the 1998 America's Sail.
The Glen Cove community was shocked and saddened to learn of the murder of Annie DiMassino on Tuesday night, July 29 and the subsequent arrest of her husband John on Thursday, July 31.
According to facts released by Det. Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick and the Glen Cove Police Department, the DiMassinos had dinner at the Iron Horse Café in Glen Head on the night of July 29, after which they headed for their home on Porter Place in separate cars. Annie's car hit a tree and sustained some damage, provoking an argument between the couple when they both got home. During the fight that ultimately turned deadly, police say Annie died from asphyxiation. Mr. DiMassino then put her body in his car and drove to Old Lyme, CT, about 120 miles from home, where he placed her body in the Connecticut River. He then drove home and later that morning, called Glen Cove Police to report her missing. Det. Karl Van Allen of GCPD was assigned to the case, and began an investigation into what he felt were suspicious circumstances of Annie's disappearance. That same morning a kayaker on the Connecticut River observed the body and called 911.
On Thursday, July 31, Glen Cove detectives received a call from the Connecticut State Police reporting the discovery of a woman's body and inquiring whether she matched the description of the department's reported missing person. The description did match, and, when added to other facts, including a wedding ring found on the body that bore the name "John," Det. Van Allen, Nassau County Homicide, Missing Persons Squad; and the Connecticut State Police held that they had sufficient reason to arrest John DiMassino at the Glen Cove Police headquarters later that day. He was charged with second-degree murder, which, if he is convicted, carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Although he has not confessed to the murder, police sources told this reporter that they have received "admission statements" from Mr. DiMassino. Det. Van Allen said, "Some of the details of this case raised my suspicions from the very beginning. This was a senseless crime and I can only hope that all of the effort that went into solving this case and the timely arrest of the defendant brings some degree of comfort to the family of the victim."
While it was no secret in the community that John and Annie DiMassino had a tumultuous relationship during the more than 20 years they were married, most people who knew them well found it difficult to believe that things could deteriorate to the tragic point they did. Bob Canavan, who had worked with Mr. DiMassino at Glen Street Photo for the past four years, and had been friendly with the couple for a few years before that, remarked that he never heard Annie, a consummate animal lover, speak harshly to anyone, unless that anyone happened to be wearing a fur coat. The only thing that could provoke her was cruelty to animals, but otherwise, "She never had a bad word to say." He spoke of Annie's compassion for "any injured or unadoptable animal" and said that, while her husband might try to argue her out of yet another adoption, "he usually folded." "John would get angry at different things at times, but it always passed," he added. The couple was separated in 2001 for a period of about three months and, according to Bob, met one night to discuss divorce plans. The next day, John came to the store to say they had reconciled and were going to try again to make the marriage work. While Bob was surprised because of the strong animosity that had existed between the couple, he said it seemed that, as it was with their former troubles, the problems "were water under the bridge."
DiMassino bought Glen Street Photo in 1993 and owned it until November of 2002. During this time, he was an active member of the business community, serving for years on the board of directors of the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce and as president for the 1999-2000 term, but resigning before his term was up. Always community-minded and ready to help a neighbor, he understood the importance of deadline when the Record Pilot editor frantically ran in with film to be developed at the last minute. After selling the store, he spoke ardently about he and Annie purchasing a bed and breakfast place in New England, excited at the idea of "shoveling snow in winter and mowing lawns in summer while Annie took care of the inside." However, while one friend reportedly was told recently that he was "close to closing a deal," another heard from John that the plans "had pretty much been abandoned."
"Animal lover" is the appellation that comes most quickly to the lips of anyone when asked to describe Annie DiMassino. Joan Phillips, president of the Glen Cove Animal Lovers League, recalled with a melancholy smile a devoted volunteer "who had a special affinity to older or sickly animals and was always ready to adopt the unadoptable." A lover of all creatures, but more than anything a cat person, Annie was mom to nine cats, all of whom had been adopted as adults. The couple had recently lost their beagle Ringo, who had been adopted as an older dog and could often be found in the photo shop.
With the loss of Annie, the community of Glen Cove lost a woman always ready to give what she could, when she could and as much as she could; a woman who exemplified the idea of volunteerism. At the 1998 America's Sail in Glen Cove, Annie found time to coordinate all the vendors for a sensational weekend operation that saw thousands of shoppers and visitors swarm through the downtown and Morgan Park. Friends say she was exhilarated by and very satisfied with the contribution she made to the event.
Every Christmas the DiMassinos would run a fundraiser for the Animal Lovers League, offering an opportunity to have a picture of one's pet taken with Santa Claus. The assistant elf was always Annie, with pointed hat and red-tipped nose. A friend of Annie's keeps on her desk a picture of her two cats with a rosy-cheeked Santa. "That's Annie," she smiled. "When I got to the store, Santa had already gone home. I felt terrible that I had missed the chance to have my cats photographed, but when I turned around, there was Annie in full Santa suit, ready to pose. I have always treasured this picture, and now it means even more to me."
A memorial service will be held for Annie DiMassino on Saturday, August 9 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick's Church in Glen Cove. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in Annie DiMassino's name to the Glen Cove Animal Lovers League.