KISS Murder Trial Update: Cusano's Daughters Kept Secret

November 16, 2002

As previously reported, the murder trial of a man accused of killing the ex-wife of former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent got underway on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Superior Court in Hartford, Connecticut.

Police arrested Gregory McArthur, 41, on Sept. 2, 2000, and charged him with the January 1998 murder of Annemarie Cusano.

Cusano worked as a secretary and moonlighted for an escort service when she was killed, according to court documents.

Here is the latest update on the trial, as published in yesterday's edition of New Haven Register:

HARTFORD — It wasn't until four days after their mother's disappearance that Annemarie Cusano's twin daughters had the courage to give police the information that would ultimately lead to the arrest of Gregory McArthur, the man now standing trial accused of her murder.

On Thursday, the opening day of testimony in McArthur's trial, Cusano's daughters told jurors they withheld the information that their mother worked for an escort service because they were still hanging on to hope that she was alive and wanted to protect her secret. She had taken the second job to support her children, her daughters testified.

"I didn't want to embarrass my mother if she was coming back," said Elizabeth Cusano, now 20, when asked by Senior State's Attorney Gary Nicholson why she and her twin sister Jessica waited four days to tell police about their mother's employment.

It wasn't until Jan. 7, 1998, on what would have been Annemarie Cusano's 43rd birthday, that the sisters decided they needed to share the vital information with police.

"We knew if she wasn't coming home by her birthday something was wrong and we had to do what we could do to bring her back," Elizabeth Cusano said, fighting back tears.

Her mother's body was found nearly two years later in a wooded area in Suffield.

McArthur allegedly told a Hartford police officer that he fought with Cusano, 42, of Shelton in his apartment and choked her after she threatened him with a knife. The officer has claimed McArthur changed his story several times, first claiming that he and Cusano were hunting for drugs in Hartford's North End when drug dealers attacked them.

McArthur, 42, dressed in a peach-colored shirt, a brown tie and brown slacks, showed no emotion during a day of court proceedings that included testimony from Cusano's former boss, Andrew Kontomerkos, and brother-in-law, Richard Chaco.

Kontomerkos was Cusano's boss at Executone in Milford, where she worked as an executive assistant.

He described Cusano as an "excellent" employee who always called in if she had to miss a day of work.

Chaco painted a portrait of a single mother who struggled to take care of her children despite financial difficulties.

"She was the most devoted person to those kids you'd ever want to meet," said Chaco.

Members of Cusano's family filled one of the small courtroom's three rows and listened as Chaco described the worsening fear he felt on Jan. 3, 1998.

That's when Cusano failed to pick up her daughters from a sleepover in Waterbury and he began searching the highways looking for his sister-in-law.

"I believed at that point there was something wrong," said Chaco.

Chaco said he went to Cusano's home to look for her and found an unusual scene: his sister-in-law's purse and a half-full glass of wine on a kitchen table.

"I noticed everything was in order, like she had gotten up and walked out like she would be back in five minutes or something. It was very unusual," Chaco said.

Chaco said he and his two nieces then went to the Shelton police department to file a missing person report. He said he did not tell police about Cusano's second career because he didn't know about it until later in the investigation. As the probe unfolded, he found out she had been working for an escort service and had told her children she was moonlighting as a masseuse.

"I found out at the very end, when it all became unraveled. I didn't have a clue," Chaco said.

Cusano's daughters testified that their mother began working as a masseuse at least four months prior to her disappearance to help make ends meet, believing she could earn between $300 and $1,000 a night.

Shelton police Detective Ben Trabka, the last person to testify Thursday, told jurors that police learned Cusano had taken an assignment from Gabriel Gladstone on the night of her disappearance.

Trabka testified that Gladstone, who was later convicted of running an escort service out of his Roxbury home, admitted to making the appointment with Gregory McArthur.

That information, along with cellular phone records, led police to McArthur's Hartford boarding house.

Trabka said police could see a bloodstained chair and mattress through the room's open door, and in the room's closet was a bag full of bloody clothes.

A police warrant indicates McArthur told police that drug dealers attacked him and Cusano the night of Cusano's disappearance.

The trial will continue Monday in Superior Court in Hartford.

Cusano's family declined to comment about Thursday's testimony.

(Thanks: fullshred)

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