Friday, December 22, 2017

Who killed Donato Rufolo and Brenda Rickert?

   Donato Rufolo, 34 and Brenda Rickert, 24, were found dead in a car trunk in front of 5326 Mountain Sights on Saturday Nov. 15, 1986.
   The pair had gone missing Sunday October 5 and their remains were found decomposing in the trunk of Rufolo's 1986 Cadillac 41 days laterdisappeared.
   His lifeless body was found partially stuffed in a nylon sports bag, her body in two orange garbage bags. A newspaper noted that he was wearing pink underwear, which one reader objected to as irrelevant information.
   The double murders remains unsolved but the dramatic tale lingers.
     Sunday Oct. 5, 1986 was a day like any other. The Habs lost 4-3 in Quebec City, Tim Raines and his Expos lost both ends of a doubleheader in Philadelphia. Meanwhile police were trying to figure out the downtown drowning of a naked 30-year-old Gilles Brisson in the pool atop 1280 St. Marc the night before.
    Rufolo, who had no day job and lived with his parents on Le Royer in St. Leonard, dropped into Wanda's strip club for a brief visit.
   Rufolo spent copious times at strip clubs, as he provided cocaine to such establishments in an era when the city had an insatiable appetite for the stimulant. She was described a a cocaine-addicted sports groupie who was often seen attending Habs and Expos games.
   Rufolo was an ambitious underworld foot solder from St. Leonard who had been arrested for possession of cocaine just four months earlier.
   He had been spending time with Rickert, who shared an appreciation for his supply of blow.
   Rickert "mostly liked black men" her friend Manon told Allo Police and was a regular at social gatherings held with those athletes at the Crescent Hotel, among other places.
   She was also close to a pair of Montreal Canadiens, according to her strip club bouncer.
   Rickert had been stripping at Wanda's since June, under the stage name Barbara, sometimes working seven days a week.
   She had a criminal conviction for fraud and previously worked at the Montreal stock exchange.
   Rickert had a child with a member of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, the Allo Police reported.
  (One might speculate that her Giant baby daddy might be. Could it be Vida Blue who had an enduring appreciation for the white powder? Or  possibly Chili Davis, one of several Giants acknowledged to consume and who also indulged and had a fling with at least one other Montreal woman?)
   Another Montreal woman tells Coolopolis that she chatted with the doomed couple at Ernie Duke's Cul de Sac bar in the Crescent Hotel at 1214 Crescent on the Friday before they disappeared, which would be Oct. 2, 1986.
   They all did cocaine together. "When I think about who I partied with back in the day. I feel grateful I survived. It could have been me," she tells Coolopolis.
   Another woman tells Coolopolis of a bizarre encounter with Rufolo in a nightclub just prior to his disappearance.
    She tells Coolopolis that Rufolo was relentless in his sexual advances at an after hours nightclub.
    She eventually relented to his request for sex but slashed his throat as the two were coupling.
    She fled and Rufolo survived his slashed throat. But he was not long for this world.
    The episode was unrelated to his eventual slaying.
   Rufolo was said to be affiliated with the Cotroni clan and friends with Frank Cotroni's son Nick.
   At least one other account saw him more as an outsider trying to get approved in the inner circle. 
   Rufolo, who had good looks and was an expert at pressing hashish, a craft he learned from a Violi soldier. It was considered a low job on the Mafia totem poll.
    Some might have suspected that Rufolo was a police informant, according to a theory floated by Allo Police, as Rufolo could let his pager go unanswered for days at a time.
   He continued to party in the same circles as the Cotronis, however, yet nonetheless they were seen as being not-entirely friendly towards him during his last days.
   Montreal police arrested Frank Cotroni, his son Francesco Cotroni as well as henchmen Daniel Arena and Francesco Raso on October 10, based on information provided by Cotroni hitman-turned informant Real Simard.
  So it turned out that Rufolo was not the informant.
  Police also sought Rufolo for questioning at the time of Cotroni's arrest but could find him nowhere. 
  The underworld buzz at the time was that gangsters from Toronto owed Rufolo money and paid him in bullets rather than cash. Rufolo's pockets - often jammed with wads of cash -  had been emptied before he was killed.
  Another theory suggests Rufolo might have been killed for being associated with Eligio Siconolfi, 49, a St. Leonard mechanic shot dead by a masked man on September 2 in his garage on Lafrenaie in St. Leonard.
Photo re-enactment collage 
   Siconolfi had been arrested for a domestic dispute in January.  While in the police station, he made a phone call urging someone in Italian to dump the hashish hidden in his car trunk.
   Officer Antoine Bastien understood Italian enough to understand the order. Police seized 30 kilos of hash, a machine gun and revolver from his car Siconolfi's car.
   This episode did not endear Siconolfi to his Mafia chums.
   Michel Scarapicchia, 32, another friend of Rufolo's, was also shot dead in Oct 1985. Scarapicchia
had been busted for LSD in 1973 and owned the Mira Metal ornamental metal company. He was frequently seen talking on his cell phone, considered at the time a lavish item owned mainly by drug dealers. He was talking on the phone in his Chrysler when shot dead in an industrial park in St. Leonard. (His widow's $100,000 life insurance settlement was canceled in 1989 after drugs were found in his urine, which was considered a violation of the terms of his policy.)
   Rufolo's Cadillac, complete with its grisly contents, was dumped at a residential area in Snowdon just 300 metres away from the house where the Cotronis dug a tunnel in 1967 in an attempt to get into a bank accross the street.
  Rufolo was not the only drug dealer killed after leaving Wanda's. In 2004 Daniel Muir was axed to death on the street after leaving the club.
   Montreal police detectives Andre Charette and Yves Brien of the homicide squad were unable to solve the murders of Rufolo and Rickert.

Stories like this fill the must-read Montreal: 375 Tales of Eating, Drinking, Living and Loving, order your paper copy here now or buy it at Indigo or Paragraph.



  1. Hi Kristian, great article! I was curious to know where you got the information on Michel frequently seen talking on his cell phone, and what type of car he drove? Thanks!

  2. I had two sources I communicated with recently for the phone stuff and other details. I think the type of car was reported in the newspaper.

  3. That was my twin sister and some of your facts are way off


Love to get comments! Please, please, please speak your mind !
Links welcome - please google "how to embed a link" it'll make your comment much more fun and clickable.