Corning’s magical mystery tour

According to the Tragic Party theory, Julie Monson was killed by three men — Thomas Calescibetta, John Corning and James Vasile, after a party at the home of Corning’s father, Judge Peter E. Corning. The theory was brought to light by Mark Sweeting, a career criminal who claimed Calescibetta confessed to him when the two were serving time together in county jail. His claims were backed up by another career criminal, Ricky Lee Winters, who claimed to overhear the conversation.

In 30 years, nobody has ever come forth to admit they were at that party — including Thomas Bianco, who, according to Sweeting’s affidavit, brought Monson to the party and left her in the care of Calescibetta, Corning and Vasile.

Three pieces of circumstantial evidence support the claim:

  1. Calescibetta told police details about the killing only the killer could have known.
  2. James Vasile was found dead following a series of curious incidents.
  3. John Corning was mysteriously shuttled out of the country by his father.


The first two points have been discussed elsewhere on this site. But what about John Corning?

Newspaper accounts from the time don’t back up the story. Corning was a star tailback on the Auburn High football team and a gifted athlete. The night before the murder, Corning earned 120 yards in 28 carries to lead the Maroons to a 29-18 victory over Nottingham. It was the first time Auburn beat the Syracuse powerhouse since 1976. Corning scored three touchdowns.

He played the remainder of the season — his last as a Maroon. He graduated that spring.

Following graduation, Corning continued to participate in local sports. He played softball in a city league in 1982. In 1983, he was accepted at Ithaca College, where he had been recruited to play football. He continued to play in 1984. In 1985 — the summer prior to the Bianco trial — Corning again spent his summer in the city softball league. Newspaper accounts in May, July and August confirm he was in Auburn throughout the summer.

For proof of where Corning was in the summer of 1985, one need look no further than Charles Elser’s chipped tooth. On June 30, Corning was arrested at about 3 a.m. for violating the open container law in the parking lot of Tarby’s Tavern on Hardenburgh Avenue. He was the only one in a group of 15 people arrested, though many of those present were drinking.

Corning became combative when he was arrested, punching Officer Elser in the face. Later, at the police station, he kicked the officer between the legs.

A series of events followed the arrest throughout the summer, fall, winter and into spring. The FBI was called in to determine whether there were civil rights violations. Corning was allowed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct in May 1986, despite outcry from the police chief. He later dropped his civil rights complaint.

If Corning was indeed hiding away outside the country, how did he manage to do all this?.