Monday, October 21, 2013

DEBUNKING THE BUNK PART 1: A Look at Joel Rostau

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

We first meet Rostau on page 24 of Schreck's book, The Manson File, where he writes: "New Jersey underworld figure Joel Rostau delivered a large amount of mescaline and cocaine to Sebring and Frykowski." 

On page 490, Schreck calls Rostau the "Boiardos' chief bi-coastal middleman…a major broker in the operation." 

Later, on pages 540-541 Schreck connects Jay Sebring to New Jersey mafia man, Abner "Longie" Zwillman (Zwillman's FBI File ) and Joel Rostau through Sebring's house on Easton Drive.  According to Schreck, Zwillman, uncle to Joel Rostau handled the estate and therefore the home of Jean Harlow (the former owner of the Easton Drive house).

Schreck writes: "When Jean Harlow died of uremic poisoning in 1936, a friend of the family, Zwillman, handled her estate. From then on, the house (Easton Drive) was administered as the property of the Lucky Luciano/Frank Costello syndicate that later became known as the Genovese Family. And those luxurious digs stayed in the family business when Jay Sebring moved in. Literally, a family business. There, Sebring bought vast quantities of drugs from Zwillman's nephew, Joel Rostau, whose boss was Ruggiero "Richie the Boot" Boiardo. Richie the Boot's boss was Gerardo "Jerry" Catena, who answered to Luciano and Costello's successor, Vito Genovese himself."

First of all, Jean Harlow died on June 7, 1937. Second, from newspaper articles dating August 27, 1937 following Harlow's death we find this: "Mrs. Jean Bello, mother of the late film actress, who was named administrator said the value of the estate was $35,000…Mrs. Bello said the estate included very little cash, three autos, some furs, jewelry and clothing."

It would appear that at some point Harlow sold the Easton Drive home because later in the article, an attorney representing the owner of the home occupied by the star and her mother, a Mrs. Harnett Breese, demanded that a $50,000 bond be posted to cover the alleged damages Harlow and her mother made to her property.

As a note: We cannot confirm who Jay Sebring purchased the Easton house from. There is a lot of confusion surrounding this due in part to the Samuel Marx/Joyce Vanderveen book Deadly Illusions: Jean Harlow and the Murder of Paul Bern. In the book on page 121, the duo wrote of the Easton Drive home: "It was rented for a period of two years by Jay Sebring. …At the time…owned by screen actress Sally Forrester and her husband Milo Frank…". In the next paragraph, the authors write that owners Forrester and Frank saw Sebring the day before the murders and made plans to speak with him the following day, along with Sharon Tate, to talk about his lease option to buy.  But, of course, that meeting never took place.

We believe this account to be inaccurate because we know through property records that at some point Jay Sebring did indeed purchase the Easton house and later, the estate of Jay Sebring sold the home to the Hale family who still holds the title to the property deed today. This would have been an impossible sale if Forrester and Frank owned the home at the time of Sebring's murder. If Forrester and Frank did own the home at some point, and Sebring did indeed rent from them with an option to buy, then it could be surmised that the above incident happened, it's just that it happened years before the murders when Sebring purchased the property from the couple.

The above information, along with the fact that Zwillman died in 1959 (Zwillman's FBI File ), are indicative but not proof that the Easton house was not in Zwillman and Genovese associates possession at the time Sebring moved into Easton Drive. So, if anyone has information that will help prove Mr. Schreck's claim or information of who Sebring purchased the house from, please notify us and we will post it here.

On Page 643 Schreck notes another tie to the New Jersey syndicate by stating that: "The Genovese (crime) Family's, Robert Cudak, (was) a close associate of Joel Rostau."  

With his New Jersey Mafia ties in place between Rostau and the Genovese and Boiardo crime families, Schreck, goes on to weave a web of mafia, the FBI, Naval Intelligence, and ultimately a top-secret division of the FBI known as Department 5.

According to Schreck, Cudak and Rostau were under constant surveillance by Department 5 due to their alliance with the Genovese/Boiardo crime families in what was to be a huge sting operation.

What was the huge sting operation? Airport mail courier thefts, which included highly classified government intelligence documents that were sent via these stolen mail items along with cash, jewels, stocks, and securities. Schreck claims that it was actually the Genovese crime family behind these U.S. Mail heists being carried out by their trusted associate/family members Robert Cudak and Joel Rostau.

Now, for the truth. Will the real Joel Rostau please stand up?

DebS did a complete search on the Zwillman and Rostau families looking for a connection that would prove Schreck's claim that Joel Rostau was Zwillman's nephew. Here's is what she found:
Abner "Longie" Zwillman was born to Abraham Zwillman and Ella Slavin. Along with Abner the couple had 6 additional children, 3 female, 3 male. Zwillman's sisters each married into the Warshowsky, Morganstein, and Oliner families. Longie married Mary Mendels Steinbach (Mendels was her maiden name, Steinbach from a previous marriage that gave her a son John). Longie and Mary had a daughter named Lynn.  To the best of our knowledge, Lynn married a man named Edward Tuttle. Longie Zwillman died in February of 1959—roughly 10 years before Rostau's troubles with the law began.

Joel Rostau was born to Morris Rostau and Beth Snerson. There is no record that a Snerson ever married a Mendel, Zwillman, Warshowsky, Morganstein or Oliner. Morris Rostau had one brother named Eugene. I found Eugene was married to a woman named Ella.  She was from San Salvador and was Spanish speaking; I do not know her maiden name.  The two of them lived in San Francisco in the first half of the 1930's

Aside from Eugene in San Francisco and Morris' father Joseph moving to England after his first wife died, the Morris Rostau's lived a majority of their lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

So, one might ask, how in the world did Schreck connect Joel Rostau as Zwillman's nephew? DebS probably solved the mystery when she found this bit of information:
There is another Morris Rostow who appears in a 1930 Census and he was living in East Orange, New Jersey, the same town as Abe Zwillman.  But this Morris, whose last name is truly Rostow, was Russian, two years older than Joel's father, had a wife named Minnie and a daughter named Blanch. 
For the sake of civility, we're going to assume that if this was Schreck's connection that it was an honest blunder on Schreck's part and not an intentional mislead to his readers in order to support his motive for the murders.

Now, with what we believe to be confirmation that Joel Rostau was not Longie Zwillman's nephew and that as opposed to being a Jersey boy Rostau was actually a Massachusetts boy, let's have a look at the airport mail heists. (We used other sources for the following information, but for a full FBI profile on Joel Rostau and the mail heists, as well as articles pertaining to the case, please visit for their extensive collection of materials under one site).

To reiterate, Schreck writes in The Manson File that Robert Cudak and Joel Rostau were working for the Genovese/Boiardo crime families while doing the JFK (along with numerous other airports) mail heists.

But, according to newspaper articles from that period, Robert Cudak (along with friend James Schaefer) eventually testified that he and his group were not part of any syndicate, but instead fenced the millions stolen to the mafia for 15 cents on the dollar. Cudak testified that, "Everyone I went to was in the mob," he said, but he himself remained aloof from organized crime control.

Cudak also testified that the most important of his partners was William Ricchiuti who Cudak said, "Had very good connections with the principal mob of people in New York and New Jersey", and, who Cudak said introduced him to most of the fences the gang used.  This would be indicative of Cudak not being part of any New Jersey gang, let alone the Genevese and Boiardo families if he needed Ricchiutti to make the introductions for sale.

Both Cudak and James Schaefer, testified that they did indeed find top secret military documents, but that they refused to fence them: "We frequently found government documents, some of them marked Top-Secret…Finding this material in the bags always scared us…we burned the missile diagrams and then ran over the ashes many times with a truck." Other times, Cudak testified, they threw the documents in the ocean.

Furthermore, Cudak testified, that due to a warning by an FBI friend that these top-secret files would put them on the FBI and CIA's radar, Cudak never tried to fence these items because it would be a life sentence of treason by authorities and a death sentence from the Mafia for putting them on the FBI and CIA's radar for having said documents.

What Schreck does not go into great detail on is Cudak's crime prime partner, co-defendant, and turncoat, James Schaefer along with Schaefer's brothers, Charles, Edward and John who were from Rostau's home state of Massachusetts.

As opposed to being connected through the Genovese/Boiardo crime families, a more likely link between Cudak and Rostau was that they knew each other through Massachusetts partners Schaeffer. Being friends, Cudak and/or one of the Schaeffers did offer and sell jewels, securities, and bonds (and whatever else heisted from the thefts) to Rostau for 15 cents on the dollar… And then, Rostau got greedy.

With jewels, cash, and securities taken during the mail heists and probably passed on cheaply to Rostau, Rostau then hooked up with another friend from Massachusetts and the two began fencing their lower end merchandise for much more than Cudak could have ever imagined.

With their success, Rostau and his partner then hooked up with a powerful Massachusetts crime boss to fence the higher priced merchandise, which they successfully did. They were so successful that Rostau began staying in very expensive hotels and freely spending grand amounts of cash wherever he went to sell the items. Rostau was tracked from Florida, New York, LA, Paris, London, and Geneva where they suspected Rostau hid the securities in a safe deposit box.

During his travels, Rostau began getting a reputation as someone with little discretion and a very big mouth. Adding to Rostau's loose lips trouble was the fact that the powerful crime boss he worked with was arrested for murder. The crime boss' trial was to begin within weeks prior to Rostau's murder.

Rumor had it (within the mafia) that Rostau (with his indiscrete mouth) was going to testify against this powerful mafia boss in exchange for immunity on the mail theft scams. As a result of this rumor, after renting a car in Massachusetts, Rostau drove to NY for unknown reasons and was murdered, possibly to eliminate him as a witness in the murder trial.

As a side note to the New Jersey Mafia connection, Schreck also writes that Jay Sebring had an independent connection with the Boiardo crime family through a gentleman by the name of James Sanatar who was also connected with the mail heists. On pages 644-645 of The Manson File, Schreck writes:
"One interesting link in the network was a certain hairdresser named James Sanatar, who did mob business under cover of a Long Island beauty parlor funded by the Boiardo Family blood money. It was through placing Sanatar under constant surveillance that Department 5 discovered that fellow hair dresser Jay Sebring—who dropped in on Sanatar eight times in a seven-month-period—was part of the Boiardo laundering scheme."
We had DebS research Mr. Sanatar. While she did find a James Sanatar with an extensive rap sheet relating to drugs, who appears to be the man Schreck is referring to in the book, she also noted the following:
When I looked up Sanatar in all the different state barber and cosmetology licenses I just used the last name in case another relative of his might have had the shop or license.  I got nothing.  I also spelled the name Sanator and  Sanatore because it looked to me like that may have been the way the name was originally spelled.  
Looking at property records for NY, there were properties owned by a few Sanator's but I couldn't tell whether they were residential and/or commercial properties.  A Joseph Sanator purchased a property in Queens in 1969 but nothing before then for anyone by that last name.
In the news articles, numerous men were mentioned as being purchasers or sellers of these mail heists: William Ricchiuti, Vincent Pisano, Frank Mannarion, and Anthony Cappucci to name a few.

Oddly, what DebS did find in researching the gentlemen named in the mail heists, was a strange connection to an Anthony Cappucci that is worth mentioning:
There were only 5 Anthony Cappucci's in the 1940 census, three in Mass., one in RI and one in PA.  I followed the youngest one who was born in 1922 in Mass.  I was able to locate his obit and it is notable that he was a hairdresser.  This Anthony Cappucci (we have no idea if it's the correct A. Cappucci) was born and raised in East Boston, MA. Later he moved to Tewksbury, MA where he was a well-known member of the community and owned a salon called House of Cappucci.
Why is this connection worth mentioning? Well, we like to give Schreck the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he was confused in his research and there was indeed a hairdresser involved in these mail heists. And, because it would seemingly discount Jay Sebring's connection to this supposed Department 5 stakeout on Sanatar if Sanatar was not the hairdresser in question.

We're certainly not calling Schreck a fabricator of facts, but we would very much like to know where the Sanatar information came from because with the other snafus in the East Coast Mafia connections that we were able to debunk, we have our doubts about this. If anyone has corroborating information about the James Sanatar/Jay Sebring connection, please contact us so we can post your findings. Until then, this will remain an unsubstantiated mystery.

With all of the above in mind, let's now go back in time with Joel Rostau to the months before the murders.

On page 485 of The Manson File, Schreck writes of a robbery against Rostau that he believes was conducted by Bruce Davis and Charles "Tex" Watson on April 13, 1969.  Please see Schreck's book for a detailed description of this event. For now, we will summarize it.

Schreck claims that Davis and Watson were doing a string of drug burns (a la Bernard Crowe). For the Rostau burn, Schreck has Watson and Davis entering Rostau's apartment at 6AM with the buntline revolver later used in the Cielo Drive murders. At gunpoint, Watson ties up Rostau and his girlfriend, Charlene McCaffrey, while they ransack the apartment looking for Rostau's drug stash. After a beating by Watson, Rostau tells them where to find the drugs. The heist, Schreck writes, brought in "Quite a haul for one morning's work: roughly $15,000 worth of the highest quality of uncut cocaine, hashish, and marijuana." Before leaving the property, Watson shoots Rostau in the foot.

In further corroborating his story, Schreck quotes McCaffrey as saying that the robbers both had southern accents and that one of them referred to the taller one as "Charles."

An interesting note that contradicts Bruce Davis being able rob Rostau on April 13, 1969 comes from the archives of Dennis Rice's now defunct site that DebS found:
I was able to find a portion of Dennis Rice's now defunct website on the Wayback Machine where Davis says that he left the US aboard a Portuguese freighter and turned 26 on that trip.  Davis was born Oct. 5, 1942
On the site, Davis wrote: "I turned twenty-six that fall aboard a Portuguese freighter. Hashish, Hess's Siddartha and Joplin's Ball and Chain did a lot to fill the time until the Acores anchored off the Biscay Bay in the Spanish Basque port of Bilbao. Spain and then Portugal led me to North Africa. But even Tangiers' abundant drugs were unable to satisfy me. I drifted to Gibraltar and then to England."

Now, remember, that on October 1 we posted a document that shows Davis was still in England on April 25, 1969

For the record we have not seen the police report on this incident so we cannot contradict nor corroborate what Schreck writes here about McCaffrey's ID or about the .22 caliber bullet that may have been recovered from Rostau (though Schreck states that the bullet stayed in Rostau's foot) or the apartment in order for Schreck to surmise that it was the .22 Buntline revolver used in the Cielo murders. What we can probably conclude is that if any part of Schreck's version of this event is true, Rostau nor McCaffrey gave the police an inventory of stolen drugs for Schreck to report on the $15,000 finding. If anyone has seen this police report or can confirm Schreck's findings please let us know ASAP.

Here's what we can conclude:

DebS found an article from March 10, 1969, which indicates that Rostau was robbed of $23,000 worth of jewelry (this article can also be found on TOTLB).

There is a notation about this robbery in the Tate Homicide Report, but it is unclear whether they're reporting on the March robbery or an entirely new jewel heist from Rostau's apartment (with an April date).

In the police report it's noted that Rostau was tied up with Charlene McCaffrey and robbed at gunpoint. The robbers ransacked the house taking jewelry and other valuables, and then shot Rostau in the foot before leaving.

Rostau (or more probably a neighbor) called the police to notify them of the robbery and shooting. When police arrived and investigated the scene, it was noted that jewelry and other valuables were stolen from Rostau, but apparently the robbers weren't interested in his drug stash because the police found enough narcotics to file charges against Rostau for "Possession of narcotics for sale". McCaffrey was also taken into custody, but then released for insufficient evidence.

At the time of her LAPD interview for the Cielo murders, McCaffrey failed to mention the drug bust and her arrest, but she did say that Rostau told her that he went to the Cielo house in the early evening of August 8 to deliver drugs to Frykowski and Sebring.  McCaffrey further stated that Rostau told her that Sebring and Frykowski had wanted additional drugs so Rostau had promised to return later that evening for another delivery, which he never made.

After the McCaffrey interview, with suspect Rostau placed at the scene of the crime on the night of the murders, Lt. Bob Helder put Rostau under 24-hour surveillance.

After weeks of what Rostau termed harassment by the LAPD, he tried to secretly relocate to another apartment to avoid them. Our findings show that Rostau wasn't avoiding LAPD to talk about the murders or his supposed drug delivery to the victims, but for an entirely different reason, the U.S. mail thefts.

Thirty-six hours after Rostau moved into his new place, LAPD left him a welcome-to- the-neighborhood card. With that, and under the advice of his attorney, Rostau finally agreed to talk to LAPD with the contingency that the Cielo murders would be the only topic of conversation so that he could not incriminate himself on any other crimes/pending charges.

During his interview/interrogation with LAPD, Rostau admitted that he concocted the whole story about being at Cielo the night of the murders to impress Charlene McCaffrey (Jay Sebring's receptionist and Rostau's girlfriend) and his friends, much like half of Hollywood was supposed to be at Cielo that night for a party.

During the interview, Rostau also stated that while he was on friendly terms with Frykowski, he'd only met Sebring a handful of times. His association with Jay's receptionist, Charlene McCaffrey, began because he frequently got his hair cut at Jay's shop—but not cut by Jay. For what it's worth, Rostau also passed a polygraph test implying (though not absolute proof) that he was not at Cielo on August 8.

In the circumstantial evidence department we might question that Rostau is lying to LAPD about being at Cielo on August 8 to save his own skin. But then we'd have to go with circumstantial reason: what was there to save? He didn't commit the murders. He didn't set up the drug burn. We know from other witness interviews that the LAPD offered immunity to other charges if suspects came clean with their information, so Rostau need not worry about being busted for selling drugs (example, suspect Thomas Harrigan supplying LAPD with MDA for testing). And, if, as Schreck claims, Rostau was so tangled up with the mafia and protecting this big syndicate of the Jay, Frykowski, himself, and ultimately the Genovese/Boiardo crime syndicate, why would Rostau be foolish enough to insert himself into the arena of a huge homicide crime scene/investigation that had nothing to do with him and everything to do with (according to Schreck) two low-end drug burners, Watson and Kasabian.

We could go with the theory that Rostau had a big mouth, but with the other circumstantial evidence presented, and Rostau's own admission to LAPD, the more logical answer is that there was no huge Rostau, Sebring, Frykowski, Genovese, Boiardo operation at risk of exposure and Rostau was just another poor slob looking for his 15 minutes of fame by claiming he was with the victims the night of their murder—a non-existent brush with death that so many people have claimed over the years.

We do not deny that Rostau sold drugs. We do not deny that Rostau was selling stolen goods. And, we do not deny that Rostau had mafia ties. We don't even deny that Jay Sebring had clients/friends who were tied to the mob.  What we do present is a case of doubt that Rostau was the "New Jersey underworld figure", with deep ties to the Genovese and Boiardo crime families as depicted by Schreck in The Manson File and therefore, we present the first of many cavernous gaps in Schreck's motive for these murders.


Added 10/22/13

While McCaffrey did not offer up the information to LAPD about her arrest with Rostau during their interview, it should be noted that on page 4 of the second Tate homicide investigation progress report it states:

McCaffrey was arrested on 4-13-69, along with Rostau after two armed men had entered Rostau's apartment at approximately 0600 and tied both Rostau and McCaffrey up and subsequently shot Rostau in the foot. When Sheriff's investigators arrived at Rostau's apartment, they conducted a search and found a quantity of marijuana, cocaine, and hashish. The District Attorney refused to file on McCaffrey, but did file Possession of Narcotics for Sale against Rostau. Rostau is presently out on $5,000 bail awaiting trial in Beverly Hills.