By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Lazaro had used his brother's name before, when he was arrested here in May 1983. Around dawn, a patrolman saw a red-shirted man walking out of the graveyard, clutching a pickax, a dead turtle, and a paper bag full of hair. A human skull fell out from under his T-shirt. He had intended to dig up his brother's remains for transport to Cuba, Lazaro explained to the authorities, but in a drug-addled state had accidentally disinterred Dolores Lopez and cut off her head. "I was so nervous I dug up the wrong one," Laurencio said. "This has nothing to do with Santeria." Police returned the head to its owner. Actually, Lopez's grave is remarkably similar to Angel Laurencio's, and only a few feet away. Considering it was dark, and Lazaro was stoned and illiterate, he might have made an honest mistake.
At the other end of this large, flat, and exceedingly ugly cemetery is the grave of Theodore Marginean, a Romanian immigrant who beat his wife to death with an ax in 1964, then committed suicide with a straight razor. The sheer bloodiness of his deed is matched only by the fate of Rafael Toledo Susi, who is buried at Mount Sinai Park, which abuts Dade Memorial to the north. Susi fell in love with a Dutch waiter named Bauke Geerstma in Miami Beach, and in 1967 followed him to New York City. In 1971 Susi returned from the Big Apple on a Greyhound bus - in four suitcases, in five pieces. The baggage was insured for $500 and listed "Glenn Miller" as the return addressee. Police found Susi's ring finger in Geerstma's apartment in New York. Back-from-the-dead potential: High. Both Marginean and Susi have the makings of very scary ghouls.
Vista Memorial Gardens, 14200 NW 57th Ave., Miami Lakes
From the Fred Flintstone architecture of the office building to the two-story mausoleums (each with balconies, and each named after a different type of fowl) to the multicolored-plastic cremation-urn viewing nook, swampy, sunbaked Vista Memorial is totally tacky. A huge sign advertises the graveyard to passing motorists on noisy Red Road. The on-site funeral parlor is equipped with a souped-up van with "Vista" emblazoned across it in red racing letters. The Diamond Benevolence Knights of Pythios vault, a memorial in marble, chrome, glass, black-lacquered steel, and pink, black, and white granite is a sight to behold.
Frank Garofalo was drinking at the Post Inn one hot Hialeah night in 1962, just before taking the trip to Vista. "This beer tastes like kerosene," he mused aloud, so the bartender gave him another. By and by, Garofalo had to be helped into a taxi. He ordered the driver to take him to the hospital. He arrived dead. His demise is a cautionary tale for tenants, one that will confirm all their worst suspicions about landlords. Garofalo, late with his rent, was having a drink with his landlady, Florence May Bousquet. When he walked over to the jukebox, Bousquet inserted a small quantity of Parathion into his beer with an eyedropper. "I just wanted to get him good and sick," she said later, describing her role in the murder-by-insecticide. Back-from-the-dead potential: High. Tenants of a certain residence at 769 E. 28th St. might have reason to be nervous.
"Mayhem," "rampage," and "berserk" are words that come to mind when one ponders the events that bought Antonio Lapica a grave at Vista. On Friday the Thirteenth of October in 1978, Lapica showed up at the house of his ex-wife and her new husband, and started shooting. He shot the sister of his ex-wife's new husband. He shot the woman's baby. He returned home and shot his own daughter. Because of poor planning, Lapica never did shoot either his ex-wife or her new husband. Perhaps meditating on his own pathetic nature, he got tired and hanged himself. When the rope broke, he shot himself in the chest. Back-from-the-dead potential: Unclear. Psychologists and sociologists have been arguing for ages about the purgative value of violence. On the one hand Lapica may have gotten things out of his system. On the other hand, he may lust for more blood.
Our Lady of Mercy, 11411 NW 25th St.
It must have taken a tremendous act of tolerance for Dade's only Catholic cemetery to welcome Jose Manuel Gonzalez into its earthy bosom. Not only was Gonzalez guilty of murder and suicide, he was a liar, a cheat, and a polygamist. When he sat down at his desk and pumped a .25 caliber slug into his head on November 30, 1972, he was married, divorced, and widowed, all at the same time. Deep in debt, hounded by creditors, police, wives, and girlfriends, he had married Maria del Carmen Torra for her money ten days earlier. She was found strangled to death in the couple's Brickell Avenue apartment. Olga Echezarreta, one of Gonzalez's three other wives who lived down the street, thought Gonzalez was away on an extended business trip. She knew nothing of his other love interests. "He was a pretty smooth operator," a homicide detective noted. Back-from-the-dead potential: Low. The grave, specifically grave no. 6 in block 77F of section T, was the last place Gonzalez had to hide. Lucky for him Maria del Carmen Torra is buried at Flagler Memorial.