Saturday, January 30, 2010

Convict Admitted to Murder, Rape of Ridgefield Beautician in 1982


The Record
STAFF WRITERS

The mystery of who raped and murdered a popular 19-year-old Ridgefield Park beautician nearly three decades ago ended Thursday in a Hackensack courtroom when a convict admitted that he killed Michele Mika during a sexual assault.

Angelo Speziale, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of felony murder, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi said.

During a hearing before Superior Court Judge Harry G. Carroll, Speziale said that he remembered leaving Mika’s house and hiding his bloodied clothes before washing them and throwing them away.

Speziale, who lived next door to Mika in 1982, said he did not remember some details of the attack, but acknowledged that his DNA was found on the victim and that she was stabbed numerous times.

Mika was found on the floor by her mother the morning of Jan. 31, 1982, with an 8 ½-inch kitchen knife stuck in her back. She had been stabbed five times.

Speziale was questioned in the case, but was not a prime suspect at the time, and the murder became a cold case despite 30 detectives conducting more than 700 interviews.

Speziale’s DNA was entered into a national database in 2005 following his conviction for shoplifting $354 worth of razor blades and cold medicine from a Stop & Shop on West Pleasantview Avenue in Hackensack.

A swab was taken from Speziale’s mouth at the Bergen County Jail and sent to a state police lab in accordance with a 2003 state law.

Backlogs in processing prevented investigators from getting immediate results. But two years later, they got a match — Speziale’s DNA matched semen samples taken from the crime scene

Speziale was arrested by prosecutor’s detectives in March 2007 when he checked in with his probation officer in Paterson. He’s been in the Bergen County Jail on $2 million bail since his arrest.

Mika had gone to a party the night of Jan. 30, 1982, and walked home with a group of friends. The killer broke a rear window and opened a spring latch to enter her home sometime after 3 a.m., authorities said. He took a knife from a drawer and then went upstairs.

Before his arrest, Speziale, a drifter with a long history of heroin addiction, had been staying at Good Shepherd Mission, a drug and alcohol rehab program in Paterson, where the program director, the Rev. Michael Vieira, described him as a likable person who volunteered for the homeless and visited nursing homes.

Speziale on Thursday agreed to receive a 30-year prison term and must serve at least 15 years before becoming eligible for parole.

E-mail: bautista@northjersey.com

The mystery of who raped and murdered a popular 19-year-old Ridgefield Park beautician nearly three decades ago ended Thursday in a Hackensack courtroom when a convict admitted that he killed Michele Mika during a sexual assault.

Angelo Speziale, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of felony murder, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi said.

During a hearing before Superior Court Judge Harry G. Carroll, Speziale said that he remembered leaving Mika’s house and hiding his bloodied clothes before washing them and throwing them away.

Speziale, who lived next door to Mika in 1982, said he did not remember some details of the attack, but acknowledged that his DNA was found on the victim and that she was stabbed numerous times.

Mika was found on the floor by her mother the morning of Jan. 31, 1982, with an 8 ½-inch kitchen knife stuck in her back. She had been stabbed five times.

Speziale was questioned in the case, but was not a prime suspect at the time, and the murder became a cold case despite 30 detectives conducting more than 700 interviews.

Speziale’s DNA was entered into a national database in 2005 following his conviction for shoplifting $354 worth of razor blades and cold medicine from a Stop & Shop on West Pleasantview Avenue in Hackensack.

A swab was taken from Speziale’s mouth at the Bergen County Jail and sent to a state police lab in accordance with a 2003 state law.

Backlogs in processing prevented investigators from getting immediate results. But two years later, they got a match — Speziale’s DNA matched semen samples taken from the crime scene

Speziale was arrested by prosecutor’s detectives in March 2007 when he checked in with his probation officer in Paterson. He’s been in the Bergen County Jail on $2 million bail since his arrest.

Mika had gone to a party the night of Jan. 30, 1982, and walked home with a group of friends. The killer broke a rear window and opened a spring latch to enter her home sometime after 3 a.m., authorities said. He took a knife from a drawer and then went upstairs.

Before his arrest, Speziale, a drifter with a long history of heroin addiction, had been staying at Good Shepherd Mission, a drug and alcohol rehab program in Paterson, where the program director, the Rev. Michael Vieira, described him as a likable person who volunteered for the homeless and visited nursing homes.

Speziale on Thursday agreed to receive a 30-year prison term and must serve at least 15 years before becoming eligible for parole.

BLKUTIMES ARCHIVES