1966 kidnapping of Surfside teenager, Danny Goldman, solved by high school friends. Dead mob member identified as killer.

April 26, 2022

On March 27, 1966, Seventeen-year-old Danny Goldman was kidnapped from his family home in Surfside, Florida.

Danny was a student at the nearby Miami Beach Senior High and intended to register to fight in the Vietnam War the following day when he turned eighteen. He never got the chance, and his kidnapping and disappearance would remain a mystery for over five decades.

On March 28, a large man entered the Goldman home through a set of sliding glass doors at the back of the home. The doors had been left unlocked. The unidentified assailant, who was unmasked and seemed to know the family personally, called out to them in the darkness, insisting that they hand over $10,000- over $80,000 by todays rate.

Danny's parents, Aaron Goldman, a contractor and builder, and his mother, Sally Goldman, an interior designer, responded to the demands, saying they did not have that amount of money sitting around in their home. In response to this, the assailant took Danny for ransom at gunpoint, informing the Goldmans that the price had increased to $25,000, which they should have ready to trade for their son by 6pm that evening. The assailant tied them up and informed them that they should await further instructions by telephone later that day. He warned the Goldmans that if they missed the appointment, the price would, again, be doubled.

The kidnapper never called and Danny’s family never saw him again.

In press conferences, Aaron and Sally announced that they had the $25,000, but still, no call ever came.

Because of the timing, those aware of the case speculated that Danny Goldman’s family had set up the kidnapping to help him dodge the draft, but his parents always denied this theory.

In 2012, a former mayor of Surfside, Florida and attorney, Paul Novack, teamed up with several other residents; David Graubart, Joseph Graubart, Harvey Lisker and Anthony Blate, to solve the mysterious disappearance of their high school friend. Paul Novack not only funded the investigation but dedicated a decade of his time and efforts into investigating, and ultimately solving, the case.

The group, who referred to themselves as "The Posse," began untangling a complicated web of lies and deceit that eventually led to the reason behind Danny’s disappearance- his father had made complaints to federal agents regarding the Five Point Bank and their money laundering operations.

Although the assailant demanded ransom for the safe return of their son, The Posse came to find out that money was never the motivation. Instead, they discovered that Danny’s kidnapping was an act of vengeance against Aaron Goldman who was on the board of directors for the bank and had complained of unsecured loans in the form of cash and assets being fed to local figures and government officials, reporting what he deemed fraudulent activity to federal agents. Unfortunately for Aaron Goldman, mobsters were involved, and they did not appreciate him talking to police. It is unlikely that Aaron Goldman was aware that the bank was being used as a money laundering front.

The group spent ten years, from 2012 to 2022, creating a detailed timeline of events leading up to Danny’s kidnapping that led them almost a century backwards into a world of crime.

Eventually, they made a breakthrough when they discovered a critical piece of evidence left behind at the scene- a single fingerprint that Danny’s kidnapper had left on the glass sliding door through which he entered that night in March 1966. It turned out the assailant had waited until he was inside the Goldman’s home until putting on his gloves and left behind evidence that would lead to his identity decades later.

In 2021, the posse were finally able to reveal to the public that they had identified Danny Goldman’s killer- mob member George Defeis.

A Canadian made rubber glove that Defeis had worn during the kidnapping was also used to identify him. Novack was able to trace the glove back to a community clinic in Brooklyn, which just so happened to be the only clinic in the vicinity that used the specific type of rubber glove in their facility. Defeis was confirmed to have once been a patient at that very clinic and had also lived in the New York area at the time of Danny's kidnapping.

Danny’s parents both passed away by 2012, within two years of each other, without ever knowing what happened to their son.

Novack took the case in 2012 after leafing through a box of documents and a letter left behind by Sally Goldman. The heart-breaking handwritten letter was a plea from Sally asking authorities and the public not to forget her child.

With the assistance of his friend and associate, Joe Cacciatore, it is believed that George Defeis threw Danny Goldman into the Atlantic Ocean as an act of revenge against his father.

Both men have since passed.

Danny’s remains have never been found, but his friends, who have never forgotten their friend, are happy that the case of his kidnapping has finally been solved.

Sources: [X][X][X]

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