What is it like to live in a suburban community where there is an unsolved murder? A murder itself is a horrific crime that is supposed to happen in Trenton or Newark, but not in a town like Princeton.
An unsolved murder is even worse. Without a killer identified, convicted, and incarcerated, the unsolved murder leaves open the possibility that the murderer is not only still at large, but living among us. Whether the murder was a crime of passion and unlikely to ever be repeated or a psychotic act that could happen again given the right circumstances, it’s an unsettling cloud.
Every once in a while you will hear about a dogged cop who is determined not to give up on a cold case. The cop may periodically release some information about the case, hoping to trigger some new input from the public that can help solve the crime. Once in a while a case will be solved, but more often it will remain unsolved and eventually slip from public view. Possibly for good reasons, more attention is now spent on those convicted of a crime they did not commit than on crimes that are still unsolved.
In the town of Princeton there are at least three unsolved murders. Cissy Stuart, age 74, was found murdered in the basement of her house at 34 Mercer Street on April 4, 1989.
Maura Gottlieb, 19, who was last seen leaving work on Nassau Street the night of March 6, 1982, was found dead eight days later in the Delaware & Raritan Canal near the Harrison Street bridge.
Laura Carpi, age 37, disappeared from her house at 213 State Road during the day on February 8, 1971. Her body was discovered on June 19, 1971, in the East River off Manhattan.
Some of the principals in the Stuart case are still around, and that case is also kept alive in part by yearly anniversary stories in the Trentonian newspaper. The Gottlieb case is followed less closely, probably because the victim worked on Nassau Street, but did not live in town. But the nearly 45-year-old Carpi case is older, and much colder. Last month one person who might have had some further insights about the murder died. That was Colin C. Carpi, who died on December 10 at the age of 84.
Just how cold can a cold case be? The Carpi family submitted an obituary to the Princeton community paper, the Town Topics, that ran on December 23. The obituary extolled the virtues of the recently deceased man:
Colin Caton Carpi of Penn Valley, PA, passed away peacefully in the company of family on December 10th after a prolonged struggle with progressive heart failure. . . . A devoted family man he dedicated his later years to helping his children and others of the extended Carpi family. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Ruth Anne Dirkes of Malvern; [two daughters, four sons, and eight grandchildren]. He was previously married to Laura Pleasants Miller of Gwynedd Valley, Pa.
Colin was an honors graduate of the Haverford School, Princeton University, and Harvard Business School (HBS). At Haverford and Princeton he was a star on the varsity soccer teams. An adventurous type, he spent one summer vacation riding the rails in Canada, seeking employment at various oil drilling sites in Saskatchewan and Alberta, progressing as far north as Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. While at Princeton his entrepreneurial impulses became evident as manager of the university’s radio station and when, together with several classmates, he designed an automated seeding machine for farming application and obtained a U.S. patent.
Immediately after graduating from HBS he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed Navy Officer Candidate School at Newport. An avid pilot and aviation enthusiast, he was assigned to the staff of the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington where he spent the duration of his naval service. His support for a local Great Valley helicopter designer culminated when the new helicopter was used to whisk Colin and first wife Laura away on their honeymoon from the wedding reception in June, 1957.
After discharge from the service Colin joined the New York management consulting firm, Booz Allen and Hamilton. When Booz Allen made him a partner he was the youngest person the firm had ever granted partnership. His many consulting engagements brought him into contact with small family-owned furniture companies in rural New York and Pennsylvania. Believing the firms to be undervalued, Colin left Booz Allen, raised capital and began buying selected firms. In 1966 he created General Interiors Corporation, which became the owner of the prestigious Pennsylvania House, Kittinger, Cushman and Dunbar brands of fine furniture. General Interiors was a major force in the furniture business for nearly 10 years, at which point an acquisition made it the home furnishing division of General Mills.
Colin had always been interested in the technical aspects of evaluating stock prices. After leaving General Interiors, he founded Chartwell, an investment service that, in the pre-internet age, used highly-detailed charts of stock price performance and trends for a subscriber customer base. He was in the forefront of developments in computer graphics, technology that he needed in order to move Chartwell into the digital world. At Chartwell, as at General Interiors, Colin dealt with technological gurus and financiers at the top of the business world.
. . . Colin pursued lifetime learning. He was equally conversant discussing history, philosophy, economics, mathematics, life and physical sciences, religion, engineering, architecture, music and numerous other realms of knowledge. He was especially interested in specific opportunities within these realms to improve the human condition.
. . . Colin’s family dearly loved him. They will forever miss the man who loved them deeply and championed them all.
In short, a life well lived.
But if a reporter had stuck “Colin Carpi” into Google, he or she would have been able to add a dramatic counterpoint to that lifetime of achievements. When Laura Carpi disappeared on that February day in 1971 Colin Carpi, from whom she was separated and with whom she was engaged in a bitter fight over child custody and marital assets, was immediately a person of interest in the investigation. He had told the investigators that he had stopped by the State Road house on the morning of the disappearance, to slip a support check through the mail slot of the front door.
Four months later a body that had surfaced in the East River was identified — through dental records — as that of Laura Carpi. Colin Carpi was promptly charged with first degree murder. The circumstances were damning: The ex-husband, who stood to lose a significant chunk of his assets as a result of a 14-year marriage, was at the victim’s house at the beginning of the day and also admitted that his travels that day took him to a bank on the east side of Manhattan, a short distance from the East River.
If you read back through that Colin Carpi obituary and took every accomplishment at full value, you would probably not find one item that would get Carpi’s name in the newspaper — except for his engagement and marriage to Laura Miller. A 1955 Smith alumna from a prominent Philadelphia family, she took a position at the Eisenhower White House after graduation. The engagement and wedding were both reported in the society pages of the New York Times.
With the charge of murder Carpi became the talk of the town. The gossips knew about Laura’s extramarital affair with a Somerset-based eye doctor, William Moskowitz. They also knew that Colin had more than a passing interest in his “secretary.” Other than the husband, no one was ever named as a person of interest in the case.
The Carpi case soon became more bizarre than a piece of pulp fiction. The discovery of the victim’s body itself was a celebrated case — worthy of an entire chapter in a 2008 book titled “Blood on the Table — The Greatest Cases of the New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”
The body of Laura Carpi floated to the surface of the East River on June 19, 1971, a time when the bodies of suicide, accident, or murder victims often float to the surface of the recently warmed waters. Badly decomposed, the body appeared to police to be that of a drowning victim. Drowning was listed as the cause of death and after 20 days the body was transported to Potters Field to be buried along with the remains of other unidentified people that find their way to the New York authorities.
But not all of Laura Carpi’s body went there. The head was severed and kept at the Medical Examiner’s office. The official explanation was that the skull was retained in case an opportunity arose where the dental records could be used to help determine the identity of the body. Unofficially, according to reporters investigating sloppy procedures in the Medical Examiner’s office, the skull might have been destined to be a desk ornament or paperweight.
But in the case of this skull, the technician cleaning it found a .32 caliber bullet lodged in it, apparently the result of a shot fired to the back of the head. The body was disinterred, an autopsy was performed, and the cause of death was ruled homicide.
News of that discovery was shared with other police agencies in the area. Princeton police immediately took an interest and arranged for Laura Carpi’s dentist to examine the teeth. He found them to be a perfect match. The whole episode was grist for the tabloids as well as the establishment papers. The New York Times’ headline for its story: “Severed Head Brings City into Jersey Murder Case.”
Within days Colin Carpi was charged with first degree murder and released on $100,000 bail. The rumor mill swirled even more furiously. One of Laura’s divorce lawyers was quoted about a conversation he had with Laura shortly before she disappeared. She said that Carpi had pushed in her door, and confronted her with “a blank stare about him,” and his face “red, with blood vessels protruding.”
And then there was the dog. Did you know that Colin Carpi once got so enraged at his dog that he shot it to death? Right in front of the children? That was the talk around town. Nearly 45 years later, when I mentioned Carpi’s death to a longtime Princeton resident, his first recollection was the rumor about the dog. It was a damning accusation in the court of public opinion, but most likely a suburban myth, I would conclude later.
All this blend of fact and fiction swirled through the community until January, 1974, when the case finally came to trial in Trenton. I was a freelance writer then, and among my clients was Town Topics, where I was working Mondays and Tuesdays to round up as much municipal news as I could for the Wednesday deadline. The daily papers covered the trial every day, of course, and we at the weekly got only one shot against their seven. Town Topics founding editor and publisher Donald C. Stuart (note that last name, and see the sidebar on page 25) devised a reporting strategy.
We agreed that I would attend the trial in person one day a week. To stay abreast of other developments, I would read the other papers, of course. That information was augmented by daily telephone calls from a coterie of Princeton women — all friends of Laura Carpi — who read their notes to me on days I couldn’t attend.
Nearly 42 years later I remember the trial as a series of twists and turns that deserved to be called “shocking.” But to refresh my memory I returned to the accounts I wrote for Town Topics, available on microfilm thanks to the Princeton Public Library.
The trial promised to be high drama at the outset. Richard Altman, the assistant Mercer County prosecutor who would later become a partner in the Pellettieri and Rabstein law firm, charged that Carpi “set out with a premeditated plan to execute his wife,” which would have been the perfect crime but for a “fatal, grievous error, something only he, only the murderer, could have done.”
Carpi’s attorney, Gerald Stockman, who later would become an assemblyman and state senator, appeared to be managing expectations from the outset. “I will fight and fight hard,” he told the jury. “But I’m no Perry Mason or Owen Marshall. I don’t expect to be able to produce the real killer or killers.”
In the second week of my trial coverage, however, Stockman managed to pull off a Perry Mason moment. In cross examination of Princeton detective Sam Bianco, who had investigated the murder, Stockman focused on a 60-page report prepared in 1971 by private detectives hired by Laura Carpi’s parents. As I wrote at the time:
The attorney asked the detective about [the report]. Mr. Stockman then produced a copy of a subpoena served on Mr. Bianco, asking him to bring “any and all” reports dealing with the case to a pre-trial hearing February 9 of last year.
“You knew since 1971 of my interest in the Mitchell-Dolan report, Mr. Bianco,” said Mr. Stockman, his voice rising. “Where was that report?”
“In the bottom of my desk drawer, under some papers,” replied the detective. “Did you read it?” asked Stockman. “No, just a few pages.”
Did you appear in court February 9 and bring the Mitchell report?
“Because I had burned it,” Detective Bianco said matter of factly, as the audience of 50 spectators gasped in reaction. “That morning.”
Stockman had begun the exchange with Bianco standing on the far side of the courtroom. With each exchange he walked in front of the jury and moved closer to the witness stand. At the end he was practically in Bianco’s face. At the time of the Watergate scandal in Washington, the burning of evidence was a dramatic twist. Who knew whether the jury registered Altman’s subsequent assertion that another copy of the exact same report had been handed over to the defense a month before the trial began.
When the defense presented its case, Stockman had several potentially damning pieces of circumstantial evidence to rebut. Carpi had purchased a car under an assumed name, Fred Merriwell. He explained that he did not want his wife’s lawyers to make him buy another new car for her to match his new car. In addition, he had entertained the possibility of disappearing with the children to remove them from the toxic air of the divorce proceedings. But, he said, the situation with the children had improved and he abandoned that idea.
Stockman asked him why he needed 45 minutes to find a parking place in New York on the day Laura disappeared. There was a strike that day at union parking lots, other lots were closed in sympathy, and ultimately Carpi had to double park at his destination.
Then there was the fatal flaw alleged by the prosecution: A part-time employee in the office of one of Carpi’s lawyers testified that she had taken a call from Carpi at around 3:35 the day of Laura’s disappearance, telling the lawyers that Carpi had been told by the school that the children’s mother had failed to pick them up. But Carpi later testified that his older daughter had called him at around 4 p.m. to tell this news. Only the murderer could have known at 3:35 that the mother would not be home, the prosecution alleged.
Stockman produced another exhibit, a sheet from a legal size scratch pad in which the same employee had kept a log of eight phone calls that afternoon. No times were listed, but Stockman determined that the first one was placed from another law firm between 3:48 and 3:51 p.m. Carpi’s call was seventh on the list. “Let the prosecution try to resurrect that fatal error,” he told the jury.
Colin Carpi was acquitted by the jury after more than 15 hours of deliberations over two days. Years later, when a predominantly black jury in Los Angeles acquitted OJ Simpson in the murder of his estranged wife and an acquaintance, I wrote a column for U.S. 1 hearkening back to the Carpi trial. In that case a white jury acquitted a white defendant — no one questioned the jury’s judgment.
But some did believe strongly that the verdict would have been different had the jury had more facts at its disposal. As Mercer County prosecutor Bill Mathesius told reporters after the verdict was returned, “I want you to know, I want everyone to know, I want the jury to know, that he flunked a lie detector test three times.”
The timing of the Carpi acquittal was not convenient for Town Topics’ weekly publication schedule. The dailies got the story first. I arranged to meet Carpi for a post-trial interview at his house on Fairway Drive, several miles from my rented room in the heart of town. There was one logistical problem: At that point in my freelance writing career, trying to stretch scarce freelance fees as far as I could, I did not own a car. I arranged for a ride out to Carpi’s house and he agreed to give me ride back into town at the conclusion of the session.
Quoting from my story that began on the front page of the February 7, 1974, Town Topics:
On the wooded lawn in front of the long white ranch-style house, Colin Carpi was saying good-bye to one visitor and welcoming another. From the back of the house . . . came the sound of barking dogs.
A black English setter came bounding into the front yard and ran up to Mr. Carpi. Another one, speckled white in color, followed the first and jumped up against Mr. Carpi. “This is Puppy,” he said.
“Puppy is the ghost,” he explained “The dead dog. The one I shot . .. the one I killed in front of the children.” He turned to his guests and smiled. “Incredible, isn’t it.”
. . . How did that rumor ever start? “Easy,” he said. The dog got in the habit of taking our cream after the milkman delivered it and drinking it out of the carton on the back lawn. The dog obedience book will tell you that the only way to teach a dog something is wrong is to punish it while it’s in the act of disobeying. The only solution in this case was a beebee gun. I shot the dog once in the rump with a beebee gun. It never drank the cream again.”
Carpi had other clarifications to offer to rebut some of the prosecution’s allegations. And he had his own theory about what had happened to his wife that day:
“I am more and more convinced that someone hired professional killers to do Laura in,” said Mr. Carpi. What was the motive? he was asked. “The motives were a mile wide and up to $10 million high,” he said. “There were some real clues in those investigators’ reports. The police may not have recognized them as such.”
But — more important to him, it seemed to me at the time — Carpi had a vision for improving the judicial process. For a guy who didn’t seem to have any judicial experience other than his single brush with the criminal justice system, Carpi seemed superbly confident that he had a better way to administer justice. From the Town Topics article:
First, he said, the defense should have the opportunity to present its case at the indictment proceedings before the grand jury. Second, a fact-finding panel should be introduced as another step in the process between the grand jury and the trial jury. “The jury just isn’t trained to discern the facts. They are up against ambitious, bright state’s attorneys, with visions of high political office dancing in their heads.”
Also, the defendant should have the right to answer all questions fully. “For two and a half years from the time I was arrested, I had to keep my mouth shut,” said Mr. Carpi. “Finally I had my chance and Altman put me in situations where I was damned either way I answered.”
Carpi, in no rush to end this interview, had more thoughts to share about even greater social problems. He had a vision for a series of books focused on the past, present, and future of civilization. I don’t recall his exact words or exact argument, but the peril was the erosion of values in our society, brought on by undisciplined young people who were shirking their duty, losing the Vietnam War, embracing drugs. His argument led to rant, the rant led to an explosion of anger.
Carpi clenched his fists, his face reddened, veins in his forehead bulged. He did not so much speak as he seethed. Here I was, a scruffy looking, 20-something, getting an ideological tongue lashing from a 40-something captain of industry.
I tried to defuse the situation. I probably agreed that he made some interesting points, that needed to be discussed further. Mostly I was thinking about getting out of there. But I had that problem: No car. When Carpi’s anger subsided for a moment, I thanked him for his insights and told him I was happy to walk back into town. No, he would drive me. We went back and forth a few times, but he was insistent. So I went along, my right hand on the passenger door handle the whole way. By the time we reached Nassau Street, he was the gracious Princeton gentleman again. It was the last time I saw him.
Since then I have thought about the case on only a few occasions. On July 14, 2010, U.S. 1 did a series of portraits of people still active in their 70s and beyond. One was Jerry Stockman, the lawyer who represented Carpi. The online version received the following comment:
“I was the court reporter, now retired, in State v. Carpi & had the pleasure of working with Mr. Stockman, who presented a defense that came from the heart, because he believed Mr. Carpi was innocent & was the unfortunate subject of a witch hunt by the Prosecutor’s Office. Thankfully the jury saw through the smoke and mirrors & justice was served.”
More recently I spoke with Stockman regarding another matter and reminded him of the Carpi case. I marveled at his defense work. “It was easy,” he said. “Everybody knew he was innocent.” I couldn’t tell whether Stockman was kidding or being serious or just being modest.
Carpi’s death notice triggered a more thorough reexamination of the man, and a chance to second-guess my recall ability. Was my memory of the trial, and that post-verdict blow-up at his house faulty? Did I somehow miss the witch hunt that the court reporter sensed?
Digging through the published records since the trial, two things caught my eye that would make me believe my initial reaction was spot on.
Carpi’s announcement of his grand plan to conduct his own investigation into the murder drew zero response from law enforcement authorities. As far as they were concerned they had their man. Nor did anyone hear news about Carpi’s plans to essentially write an expanded sequel to “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.”
But Carpi’s name did resurface, in the police blotter of the Town Topics on October 17, 1984. The criminal matter involved — of all things — a touch football game:
FATHER, SON CHARGED With Simple Assault. Colin Carpi, 148 Fairway Drive, and his 22-year-old son, David, have each been charged with simple assault by Township police, following an incident Sunday afternoon at the Carpi home. According to Chief Anthony Pinelli, a group of neighborhood boys, all seven to 10 years old, were playing football around three o’clock when David Carpi came forth and suggested they play on the Carpi lawn where he would serve as quarterback for both teams.
Toward the end, Chief Pinelli continued, the game got rough and there was some shoving and fighting. One of the participants was Mr. Carpi’s seven-year-old son. There was an altercation between one of the youths and young Carpi, police said. At this point, it is alleged, Chief Pinelli stated, that David Carpi struck one of the other youths. Later, Mr. Carpi came out of the house, upset that a 10-year-old youth had hit his son. Mr. Carpi is alleged to have then struck the 10-year-old. Both were scheduled to appear in Township court.
For most suburban “crime” stories that would be the end of that. The accusers and the accused might appear together in court, apologies would be offered and accepted, admonitions would be made by the judge against such behavior, and charges would be dropped.
Not so this time. The March 13, 1985, carried another headline:
CARPI FOUND GUILTY Of Assault on Youth. Colin Carpi, 53, formerly of 148 Fairway Drive, was found guilty last week in Township court by Judge Sydney Souter of assaulting . . . a 10-year old neighbor in front of his home last October 14. The decision was the culmination of some 45 hours of testimony in 15 sessions of Township court by 21 witnesses, including four medical experts. Police said they could not recall any municipal case consuming as much time.
The story also said that Carpi’s son had been found not guilty and that Carpi’s attorney had requested that “all evidence be stayed for ten days, pending a possible appeal.” But the article noted that a week after the decision was announced, the attorney “declined to confirm or deny if an appeal would be made, refusing to make any comment at all.”
Re-reading this story 30-plus years later, I was struck most by the statements attributed to the judge. He was quoted as saying that the beating suffered by young neighbor was “cruel and vicious. Given the disparity in size between the defendant and his victim the age difference and the gravity and seriousness of the injuries this is a particularly heinous crime.”
The judge stated that “the imposition of the maximum penalties provided by law are not only warranted and justified but I would be remiss in my duties if I did not impose them.” He imposed a $1,000 fine and a six-month sentence in the Mercer County Correction Center. However, noting it was a first offense and the defendant had to provide for his family, the judge suspended the jail sentence and placed Carpi on a year’s probation As a condition of probation, he ordered Carpi to perform 90 days of community service with the restriction that it not involve working with children.
The Town Topics reported that the judge “was not persuaded by Mr. Carpi’s version of what happened.” As the paper quoted the judge: “My trial notes are complete with notations as to how many times Colin Carpi’s face flushed and became red when giving his improbable version. In my observation of his manner and demeanor while testifying, I just cannot find any ring of sincerity or truth in what he said. I find that he totally fails the credibility test…”
Someone else had witnessed Carpi’s ballistic temper.
My excavation of the record turned up another interesting side of Carpi’s life. I doubt that many people in Princeton in the early 1970s, a time when plenty of captains of industry boarded the Dinky train every day to head into Manhattan, would have doubted the description of Carpi’s business interests that were stated in the obituary: “In 1966 he created General Interiors Corporation, a major force in the furniture business for nearly 10 years, at which point an acquisition made it the home furnishing division of General Mills.”
But that statement also was a bit of a posthumous stretch. In 2011 a longtime furniture industry executive, Michael K. Dugan, who in his retirement became chairman of the business school at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, wrote a book titled “Furniture Wars — How America Lost a Fifty Billion Dollar Industry.”
As improbable as it seems for a treatise on the home furniture business, the book has a villain: Colin Carpi.
Dugan traces the beginning of the end of the domestic furniture business to 1964, with Carpi’s acquisition of a respected manufacturer, Pennsylvania House, and his creation of a corporate entity, General Interiors, designed to leverage his position to eventually become a major conglomerate — think General Motors of the furniture industry.
Dugan’s Chapter 3, “Colin Carpi Diem,” notes that “Carpi was fascinated with the furniture industry. In earning his MBA at Harvard, he studied the 20th century management techniques needed to facilitate robust growth in the industry. Compared to other industries Carpi had seen while working as a consultant, furniture seemed easy. The manufacturing process was ripe for modernization, and the bare bones marketing practices were begging to be replaced by more meaningful and expansive ones. He saw weak, family-held competition combined with exceptionally favorable demographic projections. It was a classic case study: a highly fragmented industry waiting for the right person to consolidate it.
“What did it matter that he had no background in this particular business? Had he not excelled at [Harvard Business School], solving case after case, competing against the best and brightest young businessmen of his generation?”
Armed with capital from a Wall Street firm, Laird & Co., Carpi was able to outbid two other entities for the purchase of Pennsylvania House. For a while Carpi’s venture must have looked like gold to his investors. He took the company public at $8.50 a share in 1964. With that IPO, Dugan writes, “Carpi had the capital to start his bold assault on the conventional thinking of the furniture industry.”
By the end of the 1960s the stock was valued at $30. But, Dugan writes, the tactics of the marketing divisions sometimes caused problems for the manufacturing end, and some important controls were lacking. By 1969 things were unraveling.
“Still reeling from the events of 1969, Carpi watched in horror as the operating divisions stumbled badly in 1970,” Dugan wrote. “Sales declined and the lack of control caught up with him. . . By mid-summer the stock had plunged to $4.
“While in 1968 and 1969 the debt to equity ratio had been better than 1:1, it shot up to 4.4:1 at the end of 1970 and hit 9:1 in 1971. The leverage that had allowed Carpi to grow quickly was now dangerously high, and cash flow was a serious concern.”
Throw into that turmoil the expenses of a contested divorce. Dugan addressed “the ordeal facing Laura and Colin Carpi. After separating in March, 1970, they had a hard time working out the terms of their divorce settlement. She wanted a generous allowance for child support. He did not agree. If she were to get her way, he felt he would be ruined financially. It was too much for him to suffer losing a large portion of his greatly diminished net worth after all he had been through. Gone from General Interiors in August, 1970, he could devote his considerable energy to the home front. He was determined to somehow make things right.”
Carpi, in fact, had given up his presence at General Interiors long before it was sold to General Mills. As Dugan reports, after Carpi left the company in 1970 it was run by Dick McClure. One day in September, 1972, Dugan writes, “a visitor showed up at General Interiors headquarters. . . [Robert S.] Fogarty .. was willing to pay $1.70 per share for control of the company. McClure was insulted . . . A mere two years earlier the shares had traded above $30.
Dugan may have looked favorably on Fogarty because he was a friend and protege. But the fact remains that Fogarty got the company for $1.70 a share. In 1975 Fogarty oversaw the merger of General Interiors into General Mills.
Could the motive be as much financial as emotional? Was Colin Carpi more desperate than anyone realized at the time his wife was murdered?
So is Colin Carpi a murderer or not? To me the kids are another form of lie detector. The two oldest children — Jennifer, then 14, and Colin Jr., 13 — both testified at the trial on their father’s behalf. The two younger children — David, 12, and Laura (also known as Lisa), 10 — were present in the courtroom.
Last month Jennifer was contacted by a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who sought to flesh out the impressive life story presented in the obituary (he probably did not have a clue about any other aspects of Carpi’s life). “He was such an engaging human being. He always had a warm smile for everybody,” the older daughter was quoted as saying. “He had interest in almost all realms of knowledge. . . He pushed people, but in a very kind way, to achieve more than they thought they could achieve.”
Despite the trauma of losing their mother and knowing that their father was at one point accused of her murder, most of the kids seemed to believe in that road to achievement. The two daughters have impressive achievements. One is a graduate of Princeton Day School and Yale, with an MBA from the Wharton School. She is married to a graduate of Pomona College in California, who has a Ph.D. in immunology from Penn.
The other is a graduate of Princeton Day School and Princeton University. Her husband is also a Princeton University alumnus, with an MD from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Of the two youngest boys, who came after Carpi’s second marriage, one is a Carnegie Mellon alumnus with a Wharton MBA and appears to be doing well as a banker in London. The other graduated from Penn, earned an MBA at Stanford, and is now managing director of an investment firm in Boston. The current status of Colin Jr. and David is unclear, but one can only wish them well.
My guess is that Colin Carpi must have had some redeeming value in order to help raise all those successful children. Is that enough to make him innocent? I’m still not totally convinced. But I know this: If he didn’t do it, then there may still be a murderer living and working among us. A murderer, we should remember, who got away with the perfect crime.