Thomas J. Capano, a once-prominent attorney convicted for the 1996 murder of 30-year-old Anne Marie Fahey, his lover and a secretary to then-Delaware Governor Thomas Carper, was found dead today in his cell at the state prison near Smyrna. He was 61.
Capano, who was serving a life sentence, has been held in solitary confinement since his November 1997 arrest.
Circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately known, but sources said that Capano appeared to have died of natural causes and a heart attack is likely. The once wiry Capano had gained considerable weight because of a lack of exercise and had told family members that he thought he had suffered a series of minor heart attacks.
Fahey had last been seen alive on June 27, 1996, when she went to dinner with Capano in Philadelphia and her family reported her missing three days later.
Capano, who denied from the outset that he knew anything about her disappearance, was arrested in November 1997 with the help of a Capano brother, Gerry.
Gerry Capano told investigators that Thomas had asked to borrow his boat and then admitted that he had murdered someone who was attempting to extort him. They went to Stone Harbor, New Jersey, with a large cooler that contained Fahey’s body.
The Capanos went 62 miles out to sea and pushed the cooler overboard. However, it floated, even after they shot the cooler. Thomas retrieved the cooler, took the body out, and wrapped the anchor chains around it. Gerry then was asked to help dispose of a blood-stained sofa and carpet in a dumpster, which was managed by another brother, Louis.
Thomas Capano was an attorney with a successful practice while his brothers worked for their father’s construction company.
Capano, who was portrayed at trial as a master manipulator in his relationships, tried to pin the murder on a woman whom he had jilted. While the motive never came out, he is likely to have killed Fahey because she had fallen in love with another man. He never expressed any remorse over taking her life.
Despite the lack of a body or murder weapon, Capano was sentenced to die after a highly-publicized trial. After a number of appeals, the Delaware Supreme Court changed the sentence to life in prison without parole.
Several books have been written about the murder case as well as a very bad television movie with Mark Harmon cast as Capano and Kathryn Morris as Fahey.