Salvatore Perrone, the man called "Son of Sal" by neighbors and who prosecutors said targeted shopkeepers in Brooklyn, was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder on Wednesday. In 2012, the 67-year-old went on a rampage, killing Mohamed Gebeli, Isaac Kadare, and Rahmatollah Vahidipour in stores they ran in the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Flatbush, respectively.
In all three killings, which involved a mixture of gunshot and stab wounds, Perrone concealed the bodies with materials from their stores, like clothes and baking dishes. Robbery was not considered a motive after he left $171 in one of his victim's pockets, but there were fears during the initial manhunt that ethnicity was a contributing factor to the crimes.
Ultimately, Perrone was not convicted of a hate crime. Instead, what emerged after his capture and during trial was a portrait of a divorcée who once had ambitions as an apparel maven, suffered from financial problems, and eventually lost sight of his aspirations.
According to property records, Perrone's wife, Maria Salerno, purchased a Staten Island home for the couple in 1985. The two later later divorced, although it's unclear when. Neighbors told the Staten Island Advance that Perrone eventually started dating a woman in Brooklyn and would only come back home to sleep in the house's basement.
Also according to public records, in 2001, Perrone was charged in Pennsylvania on a litany of offenses including stalking, burglary, harassment, and public drunkenness. (He pleaded guilty only to trespassing.) Still, none of those crimes exactly suggested he was capable of three murders. In fact, Perrone, who worked as a mercantile middle-man, peddling his wares from a duffel bag, trademarked his own name in 2007 as part of an attempt to start a clothing line, suggesting he had high hopes for his future. Prosecutors said that at one point he owned a successful store.
Also during the trial, it came out from prosecutors that Perrone, who earlier in his career had hundreds of thousands of dollars in his bank account, was down to only $1.84.
Later that year, on July 6, 2012, he shot his first victim once in the neck inside the store Valentino Fashion in Bay Ridge. Then, on August 2, he shot the second once in the head before slitting his throat inside Amazing 99 Cents Deals in Bensonhurst. Finally, on November 16, 2012, he shot his third victim in the head, face, and chest inside She-She Boutique in Flatbush.
Eventually, someone recognized a photo that police distributed to the media that showed Perrone carrying a duffel bag. When cops searched Perrone's girlfriend's house in Brooklyn, they found that same duffel bag containing a .22-caliber rifle—which was tied to the murders after ballistic analysis—and a knife. Blood stains on the knife and the bag were tied to two of the three victims.
When he was arrested that November, Perrone's three-story home was in a state of disrepair. According to the Staten Island Advance, there was no furniture inside, there were 14 complaints had been lodged against the property, and there was a near-universal loathing of Perrone around the neighborhood. Although one called him "a nasty piece of work," others just said he was odd.
"He's a weird duck," a neighbor told the New York Times in November 2012. "He looked just like Edgar Allan Poe. Black coat, black vest, black shirt, black pants. Every time I saw him, he was wearing all black."
Those same neighbors called him "Son of Sal"—a nod to Daniel Berkowitz, a serial killer who claimed six victims and was known as "Son of Sam" in the 1970s. Like his forebear, Perrone earned a reputation for outbursts in court. On Monday, a judge accused him of using diversion tactics to try and delay the trial once he realized he would be found guilty—which he was two days later.
The crimes committed by Perrone are also reminiscent of those perpetrated by a man named Larme Price in 2003. The 30-year-old confessed to shooting and killing four foreign-born, Brooklyn-based store-owners, and was sentenced to life in prison.
Perrone faces a maximum of 75 years in prison when he's sentenced on March 4.
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