Just the Facts
- Sept. 27: Julie Marie Monson; an 18-year-old college student, vanishes after leaving The Stockade bar early Sunday morning. Her locked car is found abandoned, but in good working order, on Prospect Street. Her car keys are found on the front lawn of a home on Brister Avenue. Three eye witnesses later said the girl was stopped by a man who apparently convinced her something was wrong with her car. Julie entered the man’s car and they drove off.
- Oct. 18: William Monson’s co-workers at Singer Co. post a $1,500 reward for information leading to Julie’s safe return. That reward would be extended and raised several times.
- Nov. 5: A special investigative team is formed, eventually headed by Carmen Bertonica, assistant city police chief, and Don Brandstetter, state police investigator.
- Sept. 1981 – May 1982: Monson’s body is moved to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge
- April 20: Julie Monson’s wallet and identification are found along Lower Lake Road, south of Cayuga Lake State Park. The finding is the first substantial evidence, and confirms Julie is the victim of foul play. The property owner said the wallet was dropped at the site within a two-week period.
- May 1: Two psychics, Joan Durham and John Catchings, agree that Julie is dead, and located somewhere in the Seneca Falls area.
- May 8: Bianco admits to his friend, John Bazarnik, that he’s responsible for Monson’s death, Bazarnik says at trial. Other friends would testify later that Bianco talked to them about the case around this time as well: Marci Rogers testifies Bianco said he never harmed Monson, says he and Calescibetta picked her up on Prospect Street, went driving around, dropped off Calescibetta, and returned to her car where he made advances and upset her, stopped a car and turned her over to a man from Ithaca, possibly a member of the band that played at the Stockade that night, telling him to take her to Cayuga Lake State Park in Seneca Falls and make her walk home. State Police impound Bianco’s car and find evidence, including a Wegmans bag spotted with blood. Tests can not confirm the blood is Monson’s. Also around this time, Bianco’s family hires Syracuse attorney William Lynn.
- May: Lynn calls county Judge Peter Corning, and says he’s heard rumors Corning’s son, John, is involved in Monson’s death. He tells Corning that Bianco has admitted to the killing. He asks Corning to contact the district attorney’s office to have Bianco’s arrest postponed for a few days, in hopes Bianco will disclose the location of the body, and says Bianco will willingly surrender. That never happens. Bianco checks in to Hutchings Psychiatric Center, and moves to Florida when he is released.
- August: Calescibetta alleges Bianco confesses to him at the North Forty bar in Lansing some of the details of the killing.
- Sept. 22: Then District Attorney Ross Tisci says he isn’t ready to present evidence to the county grand jury.
- October: James Vasile tries to force a vehicle off the road on Van Anden Street using a tow truck. City police approach is home to investigate, and Vasile points a firearm at them.
- Nov. 15: Vasile is approached by city police investigating a disturbance on Orchard Street. He takes off in his vehicle, leading a high speed chase to West Genesee Street and Half Acre and is arrested.
- December: Vasile is arrested in Varick for aggravated harassment.
- Jan. 13: James Vasile, 33, is under evaluation at Hutchings Psychiatric Center in Syracuse after he threatened to “get people” who he thought made ‘incriminating statements in the Monson case. Vasile — thought to be unconnected to the case — later commits suicide.
- January: Attorney David Weinstein receives a call from Mary Katherine Wilson, a former girlfriend of Bianco, who says Bianco showed her were Monson’s body is hidden at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. Weinstein tells police, who search the area, but do not find the body.
- April 7: College student Pamela Decker finds Julie Monson’s body while taking soil samples at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The find ends 18 months of suffering for Julie’s parents. Days after, investigators said they’ve pinned a number of suspects.
- April 11: Mark Fleischman, a Syracuse University anthropology professor, and Auburn pathologist Dr. Janice Ross, begin examining the skeletal remains. Days later, the Monson family buries their daughter in a private graveside service. The cause of her death, however, remains undisclosed.
- Feb. 3: Investigators say they suspect one person in connection with the abduction and murder.
- January-April: Bianco returns to Auburn and opens T&J Body Shop on Hardenburg Ave.
- Oct. 31: A snag occurs in the second day of grand jury testimony when Carmen and Vincenta Bianco decline to answer questions about their son, Thomas. They said their attorney, William Lynn, compared the parent-child relationship to the confidence kept between priest and parishioner, or doctor and patient. Police comb a field near Alco Power for additional evidence.
- November: The Citizen reports Calescibetta’s story of Bianco’s Aug. 8 confession, where he admits hitting Monson with his car and stabbing her. Calescibetta says he belives Bianco owned a hunting knife.
- Thanksgiving Day: James Vasile attempts to contact his wife by telephone at a battered women’s shelter, and threatens to kill himself when his demands are refused. He’s found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot would the next morning.
- June 14: Thomas Calescibetta. a friend of Bianco’s, is charged with lying to the grand jury and refusing to cooperate. District Attorney Paul Carbonaro said Calescibetta denied knowing one of Monson’s friends, Carol Hickey. Carbonaro later drops the charges.
- July 5: Thomas Bianco, 23, 17 Baker Ave., is charged with the abduction, murder and sexual assault of Julie Monson. The indictment states Monson was struck with an automobile, choked and stabbed.
- July 11: Lynn begins to request all evidenge gathered by the district attorney, and spends most of the summer asking for information, and requesting to discount other evidence. By the season’s end, three judges disqualify themselves from the case.
- Dec. 20: State Supreme Court Judge D. Crew is appointed to preside at the trial
- Feb. 10: Final jury selection begins.
- March 12: Bianco convicted
- May 5: Bianco sentenced to 25 years to life.
- May: Fahey learns the defense was not provided with all the names of suspects that were investigated by police and requests a new trial.
- Feb. 21: After numerous appeals, Broome County Judge Patrick Monserrate throws out Bianco’s conviction. He says that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have altered the verdict. The judge rules Bianco never received a “full, fair trial.” But Monserrate leaves the grand jury indictment intact, leaving brand-new District Attorney James Vargason with the option of ordering a new trial or appealing the ruling. Vargason decides to appeal. Bianco is now eligible for bail.
- March 27: Key prosecution witness Calescibetta recants his testimony against Bianco at a meeting with state police. Calescibetta tells police he lied to the grand jury and at trial about Bianco’s confession guilt to him. A state police administered lie detector test is inconclusive.
- April 17: Bianco is freed from state prison.
- Nov. 18: Bianco is jailed again after the state’s second highest court reverses the lower court ruling, affirming the conviction. The judges here say that though the prosecution did withhold evidence it wasn’t significant enough to have swayed the jury’s verdict.
- Jan. 8: The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, refuses to hear another appeal. Defense attorney Joseph Fahey announces there is new information that has recently surfaced that will prove his client’s innocence.
- Jan. 28: Fahey files another appeal. He says Bianco deserves a new trial because of Calescibetta’s recantation. He alleges Carbonaro coerced Calescibetta by telling Calescibetta’s laywer, David Weinstein, that Calescibetta will be prosecuted for perjury if he doesn’t testify.
- Dec. 10: Jerry Sylvester is shot and killed in what is ruled a hunting accident. Thomas Calescibetta, the prosecution’s star witness in the Bianco trial, is the shooter. He was initially charged with criminally negligent homicide and is sentenced to weekends in jail for six months.