Thomas Calescibetta

The only thing about Thomas Calescibetta you can be sure of is that you can never be sure.

The prosecution’s star witness in the case against Thomas Bianco, Calescibetta lied to the grand jury, then faced perjury charges. He testified at Bianco’s trial, only to recant his testimony years later, claiming it was coerced. And if you believe Mark Sweeting, Calescibetta told a much different version of the story in jail — a story that put the blame for Monson’s murder on Calescibetta himself.

Calescibetta was Bianco’s friend. They ran in at least some of the same circles, and Calescibetta’s brother Frank was best man in the wedding of John Bazarnik, another friend who claimed Bianco admitted his involvement in Monson’s death.

Calescibetta said he was at the North Forty bar in Lansing with Bianco and other friends in the summer of 1982:

“He told me he was with Julie Monson that night and he wanted to get laid,” Calescibetta told the jury. When his advances went awry, Bianco ran Monson down, “then he jumped on top of her and started stabbing her in the chest… He told me if I ever said anything, he’d deny saying it to me and I’d go to prison and he’d get off because he’d been in an institution.”

Bianco had been in an institution — a short stint at Hutchings Psychiatric Center. But before he checked in to the hospital for treatment, Bianco told others of his involvement.

Calescibetta was called to testify before the grand jury investigating the Monson murder, but after his testimony was accused of lying. His former girlfriend, Bonnie McGohan, told police Calescibetta admitted lying to the grand jury, telling her “If Tommy goes to prison, I’m going too.”

Calescibetta would only tell McGohan he lied about whether he knew Carol Hickey, a friend of Monson’s who was with her the night she disappeared.

Calescibetta was charged with perjury. His attorney, David Weinstein, offered a polygraph to prove Calescibetta told the grand jury all he knew. Calescibetta passed the test — described as a lengthy examination. The perjury charges were later dropped, and Calescibetta testified at the trial.

But following Bianco’s conviction, Calescibetta changed his story again, telling Bianco’s defense team his testimony had been coerced by then-District Attorney Paul Carbonaro and his own attorney, David Weinstein, who both told him he’d go to jail if he didn’t cooperate. Calescibetta again took a polygraph test. This time, the results were inconclusive.

The appeals court discounted Calescibetta’s recantation.

In appeals, Bianco’s lawyers continuously pointed out accusations that others were responsible for Monson’s death. It was 30 lines of withheld police reports that mentioned ex-con John Grossman that eventually won Bianco his release, but the defense also presented an affidavit that pointed the blame squarely at Calescibetta.

Mark Sweeting claimed Calescibetta — while in jail accused of lying to the grand jury — told him that indeed Bianco had been with Monson on the night of Sept. 26. But Bianco brought her to a party at county Judge Peter Corning’s Swift Street home. Three men, Calescibetta, James Vasile and Corning’s son John, took Monson to Vasile’s home, where they raped her in front of a video camera, Sweeting said. Monson later tried to escape the men by jumping from a moving car and broke her leg, according to the affidavit. Sweeting said Corning and Calescibetta chased her down and killed her.

Police have never named Calescibetta a suspect in the case..