Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey
Thomas J. Capano had it all: He was a prominent, prosperous, and politically connected Delaware lawyer with a successful home construction business.
He was a former state prosecutor, public defender, and city solicitor. He had also served as legal counsel to former Delaware Governor Michael N. Castle and as an aide to Governor Thomas Carper. He was married with four daughters.
This county courthouse (then known as the New Castle County Courthouse) was where Thomas Capano's murder trial was held in 1998.
Everything began to change in the early 1990s, when Tom Capano’s marriage started to fall apart and he met Anne Marie Fahey. Fahey was an unmarried aide to Congressman Carper in his Washington office who became his scheduling secretary when Carper was elected governor of Delaware in 1993. That year, Capano and Fahey began a three-year romantic relationship that was known only to a small group of friends and staffers at the governor’s office. During this time period, Capano was also having affairs with numerous other women.
Eventually, Fahey found Capano controlling, overbearing, and extremely jealous. She sought to end the relationship, but Capano threatened to expose the affair. When Fahey began dating another man, she did not tell Capano. Capano and Fahey were last seen together dining out on the evening of June 27, 1996. On June 29, after hearing nothing from her for two days and becoming suspicious after visiting her apartment, Fahey’s family reported her missing. Authorities found Fahey’s diary that talked about her relationship with Capano.
A few days later, an agent with the Wilmington Resident Agency of the FBI’s Baltimore office heard about the case and offered his assistance to local authorities. As the case progressed, local, state, and federal authorities ultimately agreed to have the FBI take the lead on the investigation given its resources and capabilities. The FBI put together an investigative team that included the Wilmington Police Department, the IRS, and the ATF.
A Likely Suspect
Because of Fahey’s relationship with Capano, investigators quickly zeroed in on Capano as a suspect. He had told police earlier that he had invited Anne Marie to dinner in Philadelphia. He said the evening went well; they exchanged pleasantries; and he saw her home. According to Capano, they parted on good terms.
The investigative team used a number of creative investigative techniques to determine what actually happened that night, including toll-record analysis, seizure of e-mails from Capano’s law firm and Fahey’s office, surveillance, analysis of gun purchase records, four search warrants including a four-day search of two landfills, psychological profiling, and analysis of financial records.
A search of Fahey’s apartment uncovered letters written to Fahey from Capano. Fahey’s diary spoke of their tumultuous, romantic past, showing that months before her disappearance, Fahey had tried to break off the relationship. In one entry, she called Capano a “controlling, manipulative, insecure, jealous maniac.” In interviews, Fahey’s friends and others mentioned how obsessed and jealous Capano was of her and how she wanted out of the relationship.
Authorities also searched Capano’s home and car for blood and hair samples, ultimately finding bloodstains on a metal radiator cover and some woodwork. A blood bank search helped recover a container of blood that Fahey had donated weeks earlier, and forensic exams linked Fahey’s blood to the blood found in Capano’s house.
The FBI also recovered a 10-page letter written by Capano detailing facts about his relationship with Fahey and a timeline that mentioned he had been with his younger brother, Gerard (Gerry), a day after Fahey’s murder in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. That turned the team’s attention to Gerry, and eventually, to Tom’s other brother Louis.
A Family Affair
The continuing investigation—including an undercover operation—led to Gerry’s arrest in November 1997 on various drug and weapons charges. He agreed to cooperate, and then his brother Louis followed suit, admitting that he helped get rid of evidence. Both pleaded guilty in federal court on charges related to the cover-up of the crime. Gerard and Louis later became witnesses for the prosecution.
The brothers’ story was a gruesome one: In their account, after Tom murdered Fahey, he forced her body into a large fishing cooler he had purchased about two months earlier. On June 28, Tom and Gerry Capano drove Gerry’s boat some 70 miles off the New Jersey coast and dumped the cooler into the Atlantic Ocean. The cooler wouldn’t sink, so Gerry shot it full of holes with a shotgun he kept onboard for shark fishing. The cooler still wouldn’t sink, so Tom lifted Fahey’s body out of the cooler, wrapped two anchors around it, threw it overboard, and watched it sink. He then threw the cooler back into the water.
About a week after Fahey’s death, the cooler was discovered by some fishermen, who pulled it from the ocean. They plugged the holes in it and began using it for their catches. It was not until a year later, after the story about the cooler made the news, that one of the fishermen got in touch with the FBI and reported this find. The cooler became a key piece of evidence, corroborating the brothers’ story.
FBI agents arrested Capano on November 12, 1997 after they learned that he might be attempting to flee the country. Authorities decided to pursue a state trial, which began in October 1998. FBI agents from the Wilmington Resident Agency and the FBI Laboratory testified and provided the bulk of the evidence.
During the trial, one of Tom Capano’s lovers testified that about six weeks before Fahey’s murder, Capano ordered her to buy a gun and give it to him. With evidence mounting against him, Capano changed his story. He claimed this lover found him and Fahey together and threatened to kill herself with a gun. When Capano tried to stop her, he said the gun went off by accident and killed Fahey. Capano said he then disposed of the body to protect himself and his lover.
In the end, the jury did not believe Capano’s story. On January 17, 1999, they voted to convict him for the murder of Anne Marie Fahey. Capano was sentenced to death, but upon appeal that sentence was later changed to life in prison without parole.
In 2011, Tom Capano was found dead in his prison cell. Anne Marie Fahey’s body was never found.