The main theory in the case was that the kidnapper was someone who had a bad business experience with Dannys father, said Clarence Jones, a former investigative reporter who covered the Goldman case for The Miami Herald. There were [FBI] agents who worked 16 hours a day with no days off for months.
For a time, investigators focused on Goldmans role at a Miami Beach bank that was under investigation at the time by both the FBI and bank regulators. Goldman, a shareholder of the Five Points National Bank, complained about the conduct of the banks new directors, and he was interviewed by the FBI about the bank before the kidnapping.
Three months after Dannys abduction, 19 bank directors and officers were indicted on federal fraud charges; Goldman was not among them. Investigators, however, could find no connection between the bank probe and the abduction.
The kidnapping investigation then seemed to cool until October 1968, when a detective traveled to Raiford, Fla., to meet a prison inmate named Robert Byron Landry.
Landry who was convicted years later of a notorious 1981 murder-for-hire in Colorado said he heard talk about Danny Goldmans disappearance while hanging around with Sharon Lloyd, her father, Charles Lloyd, and a thief named John Newsom, records show. In Landrys telling, Danny was killed, and his body then dumped in the Gulf Stream by Wally Jefferson, a former Miami cop and bail bondsman who owned a boat.
Jefferson was indeed close with Sharon and her father. In June 1968, the three of them were arrested together outside the Miami-Dade courthouse; Sharon was accused of trying to run down a deputy who was trying to arrest Jefferson on an outstanding warrant. (The charges against Sharon were later dropped.)
It wasnt until 1972, some four years later, that detectives interviewed Newsom, records show. Echoing Landrys story, Newsom said Lloyds father told him that Danny had been killed and dumped at sea.
By the time detectives interviewed Newsom, both Charles Lloyd and Jefferson had died. Sharon, who was 23 years younger than Jefferson, was listed as Jeffersons wife on his 1970 death certificate.
Newsom, who died in 1974, also mentioned another potential suspect, a man he says he met at the apartment Sharon shared with her father: a burglar and fringe gangster named Joseph Cacciatore, also known as Chicken.
The famed mobsters neer-do-well cousin
The Miami Beach of 1966 was a sun-bleached pastiche of the jet-set and the low-rent. Bejeweled New Yorkers descended in wintertime to populate the swooping hotels along Collins Avenue. Meanwhile, the stucco ranchettes of beach towns like Surfside and North Bay Village gained favor among those connected to the northern crime syndicates mobsters drawn to South Florida by the sun, and the proximity to Havana, a gambling hub until Fidel Castro closed the last of the casinos in 1961.
Cacciatore lived on the edge of both of these worlds. He was a cousin of Santo Trafficante, the Tampa-born Mafia boss said to have controlled many of Havanas casinos during the Batista era. Like Trafficante, Cacciatore frequently shuttled between Tampa and Miami though Cacciatores crimes were not nearly as ambitious.
Cacciatores specialty was burglary specifically, hotel burglaries from Miami Beach to Hollywood. He was known for targeting beachfront hotels, looking for jewels and furs of well-heeled guests. Once he was found with a key ring containing 43 different keys, including keys to some hotels; another time, he was pulled over with $200,000 in stolen jewels in his car.