A Stripper, a Mobster, and a Murder

Yep, that's Miami.

"I don't know," Massaro answers. "I'll talk to you in person. Let me shower and shave and I'll be out here, all right?"

Hernandez explains — his brown eyes dull — the "package" refers to bogus checks. He and his lawyer have requested FBI documents he contends will vindicate him. So far the agency has refused. In 2004, Hernandez rejected a plea agreement to serve life in state prison, because he believed he would eventually go free.

Prosecutors now plan to use semen found in Jeanette's mouth to link Hernandez to the crime. Assistant State Attorney Michael Von Zamft — who specializes in organized crime, homicide, and public corruption — has worked the case for four years. "The evidence is compelling, and on top of that you have his confession," he says. "I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, but he's earned it."

Jeanette Smith was sodomized, strangled, and tossed into the Everglades.
Photo courtesy of the Smith family
Jeanette Smith was sodomized, strangled, and tossed into the Everglades.

A hearing for Hernandez's trial is set to begin January 12, and the Gambino clan won't be part of it. Massaro died in prison August 17, 2003, after kidney and heart failure. Trentacosta also passed away, Christmas Day 2005.

Room 121 of the Villager Motel was never occupied after Hernandez's arrest, and the building has since been torn down. "I refused to rent that room ever again," says former manager Judy Schulman. "Not after what happened."

The Smith family recently fled to small-town Tennessee, leaving behind bitter memories of South Florida. At Christmastime this year, they will not put up a tree — it reminds them too much of Jeanette's birthday. When a Whitney Houston song comes on the radio, Gina quickly shuts it off. There is a constant, nagging empty seat at the dinner table.

After a suicide attempt and a trip to rehab over pills and alcohol, Krissy wants closure. "Hernandez gets to go outside, play cards, see his family," she says. "Jeanette doesn't get to live — to breath. Why should he?"

Gina is torn. Her Catholic faith doesn't permit her to wish death on anyone, yet she can't bear the thought of Hernandez alive — perhaps one day walking the streets. "After Jeanette was killed, the joy left this family," she says, her voice quaking. "It haunts me to this day."

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