Martin Tankleff

Martin Tankleff was 17 when he was arrested for killing his parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff, in their home on Long Island. He had confessed following hours of interrogation by police.  Martin was convicted and has served 16 years of a 50 year sentence.  It was September 7th, 1988 and Martin was getting up and preparing for the first day of his senior year in high school. He discovered his parents stabbed and bludgeoned.  His mother, Arlene Tankleff, was dead.  His father, Seymour Tankleff was unconscious but alive.  Martin called 911.  He was given instructions to give first-aid to his father. Martin told the police that he suspected Jerry Steuerman, his father’s business partner at Strathmore Bagels.  Steuerman owed his father hundreds of thousands of dollars and Seymour had recently demanded the money.  Steuerman had allegedly threatened his parents earlier in the summer, and was the last guest to leave a poker game in the Tankleff home the night before the murders occured. Shortly after the attacks, as Seymour lay unconscious in the hospital, Steuerman faked his own death and fled to California. Oddly, he has never been considered a suspect by the Suffolk County police although the missing person report filed when he disappeared stated that he was heavily interrogated prior to his disappeance. It would appear that Steuerman had both the motive and the opportunity to commit the crime. Tankleff was interrogated by Detective James McCready who took the teenager to the police station and began an interrogation that lasted for hours.  Detective McCready faked a phone call and lied, which is a standard interrogation technique, and told Martin that his father had come out of his coma and identified Martin Tankleff as the killer.  Martin confessed at that point.  McCready then read Martin Tankleff his rights and drafted a confession document.  Tankleff never signed the confession.  The confession was later recanted by Tankleff. Years later, in an interesting twist, Detective McCready had been found to have perjured himself by the NY State Investigation Comission in a previous murder case. Tankleff’s Aunts and Uncles believe that Martin Tankleff is innocent.  Marty’s half-sister, Shari, who supported Marty at first, later stated she believes he is guilty.   In 2001, Jay Salpeter, a former New York City homicide detective and now a private investigator on Long Island, agreed to assist Tankleff in his fight to prove his innocence. The story becomes a little muddy at this point.  Steuerman’s son and a friend, Joe Creedon, are accused of selling drugs out of the bagel stores.  Events seemed to lead them back to Seymour Tankleff’s business partner, Jerry Steuerman.  Over the years, Creedon has bragged to many people about being involved in the Tankleff murders.  Creedon’s arrest records show he allegedly had been caught trying to burglarize one of the bagel stores. His accomplice was a man named Glenn Haris. Salpeter tracked down Harris, who told the investigator that on September 7, 1988, he was the getaway driver for what he thought at the time was a burglary of a home on Long Island. He said he drove Creedon and another man to the home and watched them go into the house as he waited in the car. Twenty or so minutes later they were back and told Harris to get them out of there.  Later Harris would say he saw one of them burning his clothes. When he heard the radio reports about the crime, Harris knew that something more than a burglary had taken place. Based on this evidence, Tankleff’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial.  A Suffolk County judge ordered an evidentiary hearing, which lasted seven months, ending in March, 2005. Coverage in the NY Times, Newsday and on CBS’s “48 Hours,” has been heavy through the years. It has been reported that Tankleff has proclaimed his innocence for years, as has some of his family and many supporters.  It has always bothered me when the media reports that a convicted felon is proclaiming his innocence, as if that were enough to prove innocence.  What has a convicted felon got to lose?  But that is neither hear nor there.  A trial seems to be called for in this case.  If for nothing else but to find out what happened that night in 1988.  Tankleff is currently imprisoned in a maximum security prison in Comstock, New York.  If you would like more information follow the link, below.


Family Gathering

My father died when I was about 10 years old so this incident happened prior to his death.  I want to say it was the summer of 1965.  My mother was best friends with her sister-in-law, my Aunt Angie.  She had a brother, Manny.  Manny had a wife, Irma, and four children.  Irma was a sweet lady.  She had been a seamstress and had accidentally sewn her hand shut.  Her hand was always half closed because of this.  I was afraid of her hand, but not of her.  As I said, it was a summer day and the family was going to Manny and Irma’s house for Sunday dinnerMy Aunt Angie, Uncle Louie and their kids would be there.  Eventually Aunt Angie would have seven children.  Maybe they were all there, maybe all of them hadn’t been born yet, but Debbie and Yvonne, Donna and Beth and maybe baby Louie were there.  Manny and Irma’s four kids were a little younger than me and my siblings, and of course, they were there, along with other kids from the neighborhood.  We spent the day running around, as the saying goes, like wild Indians.  Manny was cooking paella, a Spanish dish that since that time has disgusted me.  

Some of the kids were riding bikes to the deli and I asked if I could take one of the bikes and go.  My father said I was too young to go that far on a bike.  I was angry and hurt at being treated like a child, and proving my maturity, asked for the keys to the car so I could sulk.  He gave them to me and I went down the walkway to the car.  I unlocked the door and sat for a while.  Of course, it being summer and all, it got hot with the windows being rolled up.  I had watched as the older kids took off on the bikes  and sat with my arms folded accross my chest, stewing.  A short time later Manny came to the car and tapped on the glass. After a few taps I opened the window.  Manny asked why I was in the car and I told him that my father wouldn’t let me ride the bike to the deli even though I was big enough to go.  He laughed and asked me roll down the window some more and after a short time I did.  He said he knew I was a big girl and that he would have let me go with the older kids.  He explained that my father was just worried that I might get lost or get hurt if I went that far away on the bike.  He tousled my hair and pinched my cheek and asked if he could give me a kiss.  I said no, as I was still pouting about the whole incident.  He told me he knew I was a big girl and he was going to give me a kiss and then we could go back up to the house.  I said OK. He leaned into the car and kissed me on the cheek.  His hand slid into my summer shirt and his tongue slid into my mouth.  I couldn’t scream, couldn’t squirm away.  I felt sweat trickle down my back as he held the back of my head, preventing me from getting away.  He broke the kiss because I was struggling and kicking, or maybe because he thought someone would see.  He laughed.  Told me to be quiet.  Told me I better not tell because he would get me. And do it again.  I rolled up the window as he walked away laughing.  As he turned the corner to the back of the house I bolted out of the car up the walkway and into the house.  My father was sitting at the kitchen table.  I clung to him for the rest of the day, scared and confused.  Throughout the day Manny would look at me and mouthed the words, “I’ll get you.”  I understood the warning.  Nobody knew I had changed.