The story in The New York Times on this date reported;
"BOSTON, March 6 - The coast guard cutter Acushnet (which was involved in the sinking of the Schooner George W. Elzey Jr. (shown here exactly eleven years later) sent word here by radio tonight that she was standing by the schooner Luella Nickerson, which had been blown ashore half a mile west of Waquoit Breakwater (in the town of Barrnstable).
The message said it would be necessary to take off the cargo before the schooner could be refloated, and that the cutter would make no attempt to pull her off until tomorrow.
Waquoit Bay is in the southerly side of the shoulder of Cape Cod. a few miles east of Wood's Hole, and in the passage between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard Sounds."
Photo courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.
"The hearts of each girl had been removed from the bodies..."
On this day in 1969, a Provincetown carpenter, 25-year-old Antone "Tony" Costa, was arraigned on charges of murder after the mutilated and dismembered bodies of three women were unearthed in Truro.
Prosecutor Edward Dinis said, "The hearts of each girl had been removed from the bodies and were not in the graves…Each body was cut into as many parts as there are joints."
Costa, shown below on the right at his arraignment in Barnstable, pleaded innocent to the charges and was ordered to undergo 35 days of observation at a state hospital.
He was later charged with a fourth count of murder after the body of another victim was found.
At his trial, Costa's lawyers argued that their client was driven insane by drug abuse. Jurors decided otherwise and convicted Costa in May 1970.
He was found hanged in his prison cell four years later.
Suspected in the deaths of 16 women
Costa was also suspected of involvement in the deaths of 16 women on the West Coast before the murders in Truro, the last in that town until the death of former fashion writer Christa Worthington in January 2002.
The mass murders on the Lower Cape in 1969 became the basis for at least three books - Norman Mailer's novel "Tough Guys Don't Dance," Leo Damore's non-fictional "In His Garden," and an unpublished account written by Costa while in prison, "Resurrection" below:
By Antone Costa
Editor's note: In the late Leo Damore's book about the Truro murders, In His Garden, Damore managed to get a copy of a semi-autobiographical novel written by the man convicted of the murders, Antone "Tony" Costa. One chapter described two of the murders. In it, Costa details a scene in which, while under the influence of LSD and booze, he was out riding in Truro with two of the victims and a friend, "Carl." Please note the following contains graphic descriptions and language.
It was only a matter of minutes before we arrived at the dirt road which would lead us to the cache. I directed Pat to turn off the paved surface and follow the wagon-rutted road. When we were about half a mile down the road, I heard someone say:
"Oh, look, there's an old cemetery way out here in the middle of the forest."
"Yeah," I said. "In the middle of nowhere." That's. exactly how I felt at that moment, "nowhere." For the past few minutes I had been silently meditating, looking inward. I felt depressed and forsaken. Although I was in the company of much-loved friends, there seemed to be something lacking. The friend I truly desired was no longer mine; I saw her no longer...
I opened the car door and ambled over to the nearest tree. With LSD and the combination of other drugs in me, the tree became a huge spectral silhouette. The trunk bore the image of a gigantic wrist protruding from the ground. The top of the tree, completely divested of foliage, appeared to be the hand and fingers of a colossal and fearfully gruesome skeleton. I felt as though it were trying to grasp me in its cold, deathlike grips as I trod the unearthly cemetery.
I was completely surrounded by gravestones, most of them so ancient they no longer stood erect but leaned toward me ground seeking their namesakes deep within the bowels of the earth. Some slabs had long ago toppled to the ground. An ugly, horrible greenish-yellow moss covered many of the stones. If I stared long enough, the moss began oozing its way over the gravestones like honey flowing from its container.
I looked into the sky and settled my gaze on the horizon. The sun had faded, leaving gray, steel-wool clouds. The wind blew harshly, caressing my face like the gelid hands of some incipient phantom seeking to infect his unwary victim with terror. The icy breeze carried the stench of death while sea gulls and crows-the carrion birds_drifted high in the somber-colored sky.
Ever since I was a child I've despised and feared cemeteries, but never knew why. I always avoided walking near them, especially at night! Now I found myself unexpectedly in the center of this small but eerie depository of death. I turned away from the tree after urinating, picked up the paper bag with the empty wine bottles and tossed it over the pipe railing encompassing the perimeter of the cemetery. My ears registered the sound of the bottles breaking when the bag hit the ground.
I intended returning to the car, but as I focused, I viewed my three friends approaching me.
"What are you guys doing out here?" I questioned. "It's cold out."
"We'd like to read the inscriptions on the gravestones," Mary Anne [Wysocki] replied.
I began to shiver. The cold had penetrated through my body. We walked over to a large slab of stone under the spectral tree. I didn't much care for the idea of sitting there in the chilly atmosphere, but Pat [Patricia Walsh] was passionately catering to my needs as a man, thus drawing my full attention toward her. Though we bad met only a short while back, our relationship was definitely becoming a beautiful love story. Because I had lost Chrissie only two months prior, I found it terribly difficult to crack the tragic shell that encased me; but Pat helped fabulously. I wanted so desperately to respond to love's touch unrestrictedly, but painful memories of a once-shattered love glared at me from every crevice of my mind. Often, when in bed with a chick, I'd unconsciously whisper either Avis or Chrissie's name, which on numerous occasions became quite embarrassing. A few times at breakfast the next morning, my woman for the night would ask: "Who's Avis?" or "Who's Chrissie?"...
I helped Pat to her feet. As we started for the car I chanced to look upward. Suddenly a pocket opened in the sky exposing what I thought to be some sort of astral plane. It first appeared as a brilliantly burning light, as though the entire earth no longer existed. I could not see or hear my friends or the ground beneath my feet. I peered deeper into the heavenly fissure, while my body seemed to be melting into the light. I was being sucked up into the crevice. I wanted to go! Never have I witnessed anything so profoundly exquisite or fantastically peaceful! It was as though the Holy Master had opened heaven's gate to me! Magnificent hues of red, purple and yellow pulsated from within the fissure while streaks of other colors bolted out at me like sparks scratched on a flintstone. Ten thousand angelic voices, the Holy Cherubim, sublimely chanted in resplendent harmony while a tranquil essence echoed within the void surrounding me.
For what seemed an eon my inner being traversed the planes of infinity! It was so strangely marvelous, beauteous and placating! Then, as quickly as it occurred, it vanished. My mind returned to earth and my friends, with a much better understanding of the universe and man's insignificance in it. I compared my mystical experience with those of the prophets as set forth in the Bible. For me, it was a true spiritual awakening, an experience I shall never forget and one that I needed badly in order to understand myself and my fellow man better-the most powerful and enlightening experience that LSD had ever provided ...
We arrived at the Volkswagen and crawled inside, chattering incessantly while the engine poured out hot air. It had been late afternoon when we reached the cemetery area. Now, darkness began to settle around us. The night crept in, catching us off guard: We had rapped so long while warming ourselves we failed to witness the sunset. Acid had messed with our heads.
Pat inserted the key in the ignition and the car bounced along the rutted trails. Within minutes we came to the customary parking space, a niche off the rutted road. "We have to decide who's going out into the cold to stash the dope," I said. "We can't all go!"
"Why not?" Pat questioned. "I'd rather not stay here in the dark alone while you guys are out there somewhere. I'm tripping and these trees look so freaky. I'd be scared to death to stay here with just Mary Anne."
We pulled up our zippers, buttoned our coats and prepared to enter the gelid darkness.
"Do you still have those Dilaudid out here, Sire?" Carl asked. "I'd like to do some."
"Do you really intend to do Dilaudid on top of all the other dope you've got in you?" I said. "Why not?" Carl retorted. "I'm going to drop some more of these acid tabs, too. Do you people want any more before we stash them?"
Carl received a unanimous, "No, thanks!" The rest of us had had enough dope for one night.
Carl popped a few more tabs into his mouth. "I've got my set of works here," he said. "What do you want to do with them?"
"Give them to me, Carl. I'll stash them outside the car just in case any nosy park rangers decide to search the car while we're gone. It doesn't happen often, but it would be foolhardy to push our luck."
I got out of the car and hid Carl's works under some pine needles. Through the treetops the wind shrieked and howled, penetrating the entire forest. LSD greatly exaggerated the wind's shrill screech beyond any realm of reality as the four of us tramped through the woods in the darkness. I locked my arms around Pat's shoulders. She had intertwined her arms around my waist. Her head rested against my chest as we walked along, secure in each other's tender affection.
Ten minutes later we were standing atop the moss and pine needles covering two ammo cans, side-by-side. I uncovered one, reached in and hauled out the dope it contained. Carl took the flashlight from Pat and joined me in placing the blue bag of acid and hash in the can. We then perused the pile of dope on the ground we had removed from the canister. Polyethylene Baggies, glass and plastic bottles and small cardboard boxes formed a pile upon the earth. Carl pointed excitedly to a small plastic vial. "There's the Dilaudid!" he said. He slammed into me so that I almost fell over, unaware that he had shoved me out of the way. "There must be at least two dozen of them in there!" Carl grinned insanely, ogling the pills.
"That's the last of the Dilaudid, Carl. We'll have to cop some more," I said. "You can do whatever you want with them when we get back in town."
"Where's the water thermos?" Carl said frantically. "It's here somewhere." He began searching for the insulated water container in the pile of dope until he located the thermos we usually kept in the can. "I only need a little bit of water to shoot some Dilaudid with. This acid is doing strange things to my head, I want to come down. Where is my set of works?"
"I've hidden it near the car, Carl, remember?" I said.
"Who gave you the right to hide my works? That's not a very funny joke!" Carl said, his mind evidently in a frenzy. "I want to do up some stuff now. Would you go get my works for me, Sire? I'd go and get them myself but I don't know where they are."
"What do we do, people?" I asked Pat and Mary Anne. "He can be a real bring-down at times, and unfortunately, this is one of those times."
My prime idea was to escort the girls back to the car and return alone with Carl's works, but the girls didn't wish to remain alone in the car while I journeyed back to the stash. Instead, they chose to remain with Carl. Informing them that I'd return within ten minutes, I disappeared into the darkness.
I ran most of the way, acid flashes and all.
The tree tops loomed over the road, forming a tunnel like effect. Brambles and briar patches reached out into the pathway, grabbing at my ankles. I detested those thorny vines! It was always a royal hassle attempting to extricate myself from those horrible Satanic creations. Otherwise, it remained a beautiful stroll through the tunneled forest; a bit cold, but nice. Acid played with my mind as I sauntered leisurely along the path. I focused on the stars and watched the tiny pinholes of light swirl vibrantly through the blackness.
Suddenly, a thunderous explosion shattered the air around me! At first I didn't recognize the sound, but it penetrated the forest a second, then three times consecutively. My mood changed from carefree spirit to concern and fear when I realized what those frightening sounds were: five gunshots in the night!
Carl must have opened the other ammo can in which the clique stored their weapons, loaded one of the pistols and began firing foolishly at some imaginary target. I became furious to think that Carl would have performed such a stupid stunt. His actions could bring the forest rangers down on us, thinking we were poachers, and we'd end up getting busted.
After the barrage, a mystifying silence ensued. When I reached the summit of the road I turned onto the vine-entangled path that led directly to the ammo-can stash. I noticed the illumined flashlight dropped on the ground. Its beam aimed at my eyes, temporarily blinded me.
My three friends were nowhere in sight. I stooped to pick up the flashlight and projected its beam in a circular pattern encompassing the general area. The weapons container had been opened, its cover askew on the ground. Fear held me tighter in its grip. I thought perhaps the rangers had chanced to sneak up on my friends and had busted them. That could also explain the Shots-perhaps a warning fired by the rangers as my friends tried to escape capture. I listened intently and uneasily to the blackness of night. Nothing was to be heard so can to ascertain whether or riot the drugs were still there. They were.
I beamed the flashlight at the ground level, stopping at an unnatural clump on the ground that appeared to be a body. I gasped fearfully, swallowing in fright. Dizziness and nausea prevailed, momentarily overwhelming me. I crawled over to the clump, hoping that I was hallucinating. It was Pat's body! Barely Conscious, she lay on her side, her right arm extended above her head.
I prodded her shoulder gently. "Pat?" I called, fearfully. She tried to move. "Tony. . . please hold me," came her soft, deathlike whisper. "I'm so cold. . .I love you."
"Pat," I mumbled, "what's wrong?" I was so powerfully dominated by fear that the words hardly scrambled from my lips.
There was no answer! I listened to see if she was breathing, lightly resting my hand on her chest, hoping to sense the expansion that carried with it the breath of life. I lowered my head into a position a few inches from her face. I heard and felt nothing significant of life in her!
On the brink of insane panic, I forced myself to banish the thought of death from my mind. I kneeled beside her and placed my right hand under her neck, gripped her shoulder and lifted her to a sitting position. Her head bobbed forward as I lifted her limp body. She felt as though she was composed of rubber. I shook her mildly and called to her again. No response.
I was suddenly startled by a simultaneous hot-cold reaction flowing over the hand that caressed her neck. Acid games, or reality? I gently lowered her body and tensely withdrew my hand. It was covered with fresh, warm, dripping blood! I now saw the blood on the back of her jacket collar. Blood oozed its way through her soft hair. The terrible horror of reality covered my hand. I panicked! In a nauseous frenzy I leaped back from her body and rubbed my hand furiously in the dirt and pine needles. I felt sick, like barfing! My head was about to explode. This was real, not acid! For undetermined minutes I stood there, totally shocked, stunned. I thought perhaps someone had learned we were to hide the dope on this particular evening and had been lurking in the shrubbery planning to kill us all and take our dope. We bad a great deal of hash and thirty thousand tabs of acid. Worse crimes have been committed for much less!
I was plagued by the thought that Mary Anne and Carl were nowhere in sight. Could they have been killed, too? I feared for my own life! I sensed that someone would ultimately return to the ammo cans. Then perhaps, it would be my turn to die. Yet I couldn't move, although I wanted to, desperately! My mind was a vacuous chamber impregnated with fear. I was incapable of rational thought or action. I attributed such a reaction to LSD, but I believe it would have been the same without acid. I had encountered a real-life, horror-filled nightmare! With or without acid it would have been a super-bummer!
Behind me, I heard someone furiously thrashing through the bushes, heading my way. Fear and confusion overwhelmed me to such an extent I was powerless to move. I waited and listened through agonizing seconds while the sound grew louder and nearer. Suddenly, with one huge collision, whoever it was raging through the bushes smashed into me, knocking us both to the ground.
I screamed insanely as we scuffled and finally realized it was Carl I was rolling around with on the moss-covered earth. I attempted to let him know it was me he was attacking. I called him by name and tried to calm him down so he'd curtail his assault. Carl had wrapped his hands around my throat while he kneeled on my chest. He loosened his grip. With one hand he quickly produced a .22 caliber revolver. I stared directly into its barrel.
"Carl!" I screamed, "It's me. Be cool! What's wrong with you? You're acting insanely. Get yourself together, man!" His distorted facial movements expressed anger, fear and pure insanity. I'd never witnessed Carl in such a berserk state. I dared not flinch a muscle. He had the gun pointed at my head. He began mumbling, "You'll die too, motherfucker, just like the rest of them!" He cocked the hammer back; it clicked into place. His hand began shaking vehemently as he continued his insane utterances. "You're the cause of all this, you bastard! You brought me out here. You tried to take my dope! You gave it to that douchebag! My dope! What belongs to me is mine! You shouldn't have offered those Dilaudid to that crazy chick, Pat. I knew you two were trying to steal my dope. Now, you'll die for it, like the rest of them!" Carl muttered through gritted teeth.
His grip tightened around my throat. He butted the gun muzzle to my temple and squeezed the trigger. Click. Nothing happened!
My mind snapped. I became enraged, empowered with strength. My arm sliced the air, violently knocking the gun from his hand and simultaneously throwing Carl off-balance. I sprang to my feet and kicked him viciously in his left side. He groaned in pain and writhed on the ground, mewling helplessly.
I came to my senses and decided to help him to his feet. I leaned over to assist him, extending my hand. He reached into his jacket lining and withdrew a huge, scary-looking bowie knife. The brilliant glint of shining steel flashed in the moonlight. He swung at me with the knife again and again, wielding it wildly, insanely. I could hear it cut furiously through the air. I jumped back, but not quick enough! The knife ripped into my sleeve, slashing it wide open lengthwise. I freaked!
Focusing my total attention on the knife, I kicked fiercely and the weapon leaped from Carl's hand and soared through the dense night air. I pounced on Carl savagely, thrusting him to the ground, and pinned him securely.
"Listen, you little son of a bitch!" I commanded, seething with rage. "You better get yourself together or I'll pound the hell out of you! Do you understand that?"
I stood back, allowing plenty of distance between us. Carl maneuvered himself into a sitting position on the ground, facing me. He began sobbing. "You've got to help me, Sire," he wailed. "I didn't mean to do it. It was all a horrible mistake."
"Carl, Pat's dead, I think," I said soberly, on the verge of tears myself. But I had to maintain my composure. Should I surrender now I would definitely relinquish any tangible scrap of reason I still clung to. My strength began seeping out of me like water through cloth. Acid permeated the entire caper with an absurd essence of non-realism. It became virtually impossible to decide what to do next. I was incapable of determining my motivations or actions. To decide whether something was right or wrong seemed of no importance. Like a circuit breaker, my rational mind had kicked out.
Carl muttered, "What are we going to do?"
"I don't know where you get this we' stuff," I said, "but I'm getting the hell out of here. And quick!" I began walking away.
"Wait!" Carl shouted. "Please, wait!"
"I don't know what happened out here, but I don't want any part of it!" I spouted off angrily. "My God, man, what's wrong with you, anyway! You're sick! There's an innocent dead girl lying over there, Carl and you killed her! Where's the other chick, Mary Anne?"
"She's in the bushes," Carl said, pointing to a clump of foliage in the darkness. I grabbed Carl by the shoulders. "Get off your lousy ass and take me to her!"
"For what, Tony? She's dead, don't you understand?"
"Get moving, bastard!" I shoved him in the direction he had pointed to. "Lead me to her. Fast!"
After searching the area a while we came upon Mary Anne's body lying face down in the shrubbery. Clotted blood saturated her blonde, curly hair. She appeared not to be breathing, but as I rolled her onto her back a strange gurgling sound emanated from deep within her throat. For a brief moment I hoped she was alive and able to be helped-but lack of breathing, pulse and no retinal response to the flashlight ruled against it.
"Wait here, Carl," I ordered. I handed him the flashlight. "Hold onto this."
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"I'll be back in a minute. Just hold steady."
I returned to the area where Carl and I had scuffled, located the knife and walked back to Mary Anne.
Carl eyed me fearfully as I approached. Pointing to the knife he asked, "What are you going to do with that?"
"It's obvious there is nothing we can do to help her back to life," I said. "From the gurgling sound she made, she may be suffering. I will try to make it easier for her. It's what I would want done to me if I were in her shape. I hope I'm doing the right thing. I wish I could think straight, damn it!"
"Do you have the courage to do it?" Carl asked contemptuously. "I don't think you can." He grinned. "She'll die anyway. I made sure of that, so what's the sense to it?"
"She may be in pain, you bastard!" I shouted, gnashing my teeth. "This is all your asinine doings! And to think that I loved you like my own son! What a fool I was!" Tears welled up in my eyes. Never before had I been so torn between love and hate. I brushed Mary Anne's jacket flaps open. I rested the knife point against her sweater just beneath her breastbone and aimed it inward toward her heart. I held it there for what seemed a millennium while I tried to build up courage. It was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. I stiffened my arm and allowed my full body weight to pressure the knife. It sunk into her chest, deeply. I pulled the knife out, flung it disdainfully to the ground and fell limp upon Mary Anne, weeping uncontrollably, Stunned by the deed I had done.
"See?" Carl said. "She didn't even move. I told you she was dead!"
Carl's words shocked and infuriated me. How could he be so insensitive? I clenched my fist and swung with all my strength, walloping him on his shoulder with a solid backhand. He fell to the ground, moaning. "What the hell did you do that for?"
"Come on!" I commanded. "Let's get the hell out of here!"
"Wait!" Carl said. "We've got to bury the bodies. We can't leave them here like this! Either you help me bury these chicks or we'll both end up behind bars. We're both in this up to our necks. If I get caught I'll say you were here when I killed them, then what will you do? So are you going to help me or not?"
"How the hell are we going to bury anybody when the ground is frozen solid?" I said.
"At least help me carry Mary Anne back to the other body," Carl pleaded. "Then we'll cover them and split."
I shivered, not certain whether the ten-degree temperature caused it or the shock of what had happened. My only desire was to leave the area quickly.
I walked over to Mary Anne's body and slid my arms under her knee joints, gripping her legs firmly. Carl sat her up and grabbed her from behind around the chest and slid his arms under her armpits. We carried Mary Anne's lead-heavy body back to the ammo cans beside Pat.
Carl gathered up the gun and the knife and placed them in his pocket. After dumping in the drugs, I replaced the top of the ammo cans and spread a light covering of leaves. Together, Carl and I scraped up a pile of leaves and pine needles to sprinkle over the bodies of my senselessly murdered friends...
To read more about Tony Costa and other Cape criminals and misfits, visit Evan Albright's Cape Cod Confidential.