What’s in the trunk of a Cadillac in Sheepshead Bay?


Gambino crime family crew leader Roy DeMeo hadn’t been seen in 10 days and some people were starting to get really concerned. DeMeo had been worried that he was going to be killed soon.  He suspected members of his own Gambino family were out to get him.  What might seem to some to be wild paranoid were spot on.  On January 20, 1983, he was found shot numerous times in the head in the trunk of his Cadillac Coupe DeVille in the parking lot of Sheepshead’s Bay’s Varuna Boat Club.

DeMeo had made quite a reputation for himself coming up through the ranks of the Gambino family.  The prolific mobster had started out with some loansharking as a teen and quickly moved into a lucrative car theft operation.  Significant income was getting him noticed and he was seen as a valuable resource for the Gambino’s.  He started putting his own crew together in the late 1960s and was making some real money.

No one knows when DeMeo did his first homicide, but he seemed to enjoy it a bit too much.  He used his childhood experience working in a butcher shop to cut up and dispose of his targets.  Victims often met their end at a Flatlands dive called the Gemini Lounge.   If someone, like the witness to a crime, needed to disappear, they would be lured to the Gemini Lounge.  There DeMeo and his crew would deploy the “Gemini Method”.  The victim would be shot with a silencer, brought to the back to be drained of blood, and then dismembered.  The body parts would be carefully packaged up and delivered to the old Fountain Avenue Dump for disposal.

In 1977, Demeo cut a deal that got him formally inducted as a made member of the Gambino family.  He brokered a deal between Gambino boss Paul Castellano, and James Coogan, head of the Westies Irish mob.  Coogan and his crew now fell under the Gambino’s and DeMeo was the contact for Coogan and crew.  (this was portrayed in the film State of Grace, read more here)

By the late 1970’s DeMeo was running the largest car theft ring in New York City.  He was even shipping stolen cars internationally.  That alone was garnering the attention of the FBI.  To add to that problem, DeMeo was getting out of control with the homicides.  Anyone that even might be a witness against him or competition for his crew seemed to get the “Gemini Method”.  Even some innocent people fell victim to his bloodlust.  It is estimated that his crew may have killed as many as 200 people.

In 1980, the FBI raided one of DeMeo’s auto warehouses and arrested a few of his crew members.  The Gambino hierarchy started to worry that if DeMeo got pinched, he could tell the feds were a lot of bodies were buried…literally.  In, 1981 two close associates of DeMeo were arrested as a result of the 1980 FBI raid.  The FBI was also taking a serious interest in the number of people who entered the Gemini Lounge and never came out.  DeMeo seemed to have outlived his usefulness to the Paul Castellano.  DeMeo’s new Coupe DeVille soon became his final resting place.

Christopher Flanagan
photo Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2753016


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