Victim: Peter Fabiano
Place: Los Angeles, CA
The Crime: Peter Fabiano, 35, is shot and killed by a mysterious “trick-or-treater” after answering a knock on the door on Halloween night.
Background: Peter Fabiano had served in the Marines during WWII before marrying and settling down with his wife Betty in Los Angeles. Though they had no children of their own, Betty did have a son and daughter from a previous marriage. Peter owned two prosperous local beauty shops, one of which briefly employed a divorcee named Joan Rabel.
Going through a difficult period in their marriage, Betty and Peter separated, Betty moving out of the home they shared and bunking with Rabel, whom she had previously befriended (note: though it is not entirely clear in many of the news reports from the day, the implication is that the two women had become lovers and that this was the source of the rift between Peter and Betty). Betty soon had a change of heart and, after agreeing never to see or speak with Rabel again, reconciled with her husband and moved back into their house.
After Betty left her Rabel became jealous with rage and began talking with her good friend – and possible lover – Goldyne Pizer, 40, about her wish to kill Peter in revenge for taking Betty away from her. Pizer, a shy and unassuming divorcee and lab technician at L.A. Children’s Hospital, was obsessed with Rabel and was thereby quickly drawn in by the other woman’s description of Peter as a monster who was abusive towards Betty and his stepchildren. The two women finally decided to carry out the murder, and Rabel, the apparent mastermind, convinced Pizer that she should be the one to pull the trigger. Rabel also decided that Halloween night would be the perfect time to go through with it, as it was the one night of the year when no one would become suspicious of someone walking around in a disguise.
In preparation, Pizer went to Pasadena and bought a .38-caliber handgun while Rabel put together a “Halloween costume” – jeans, a khaki jacket, hat, red gloves, face paint and a domino mask. At 9pm on Halloween night Rabel borrowed her neighbor’s car and drove in it with Pizer to the Fabiano residence, waiting for two hours until the lights went out in the bedroom. Pizer then shakily got out of the car in her disguise and, holding a paper bag with the gun hidden inside, proceeded to the front door, rang the doorbell, and shot Peter Fabiano – who believed the visitor to be a late-night trick-or-treater – in the chest. Betty heard the gunshot and ran to her husband’s side, but it was too late to save him – he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The Case: Though the authorities initially suspected that the crime may have been tied to Peter Fabiano’s past criminal history (he’d been faced with a minor charge of “bookmaking” several years previous), they were unable to come up with a connection. However, after Betty revealed to the police that Rabel had been a major source of she and Peter’s marital discord, they soon came to believe that the Rabel may have had motive enough to carry out the murder.
Rabel was questioned and released, but police still suspected her. Their suspicions were confirmed when the murder weapon was traced to a pay locker rented by one Goldyne Pizer, with further investigation revealing the link between the two women and the fact that Rabel had brought Pizer by one of Peter’s salons several times so she would recognize him.
Under intense questioning Pizer tearfully admitted to killing Fabiano but indicated that Rabel – who had cut off all ties with Pizer following that fateful Halloween night – had manipulated her into doing so. Rabel was arrested and the two women were charged with first-degree murder, but cut a plea deal for second-degree murder just before their trials were about to start. They were both sentenced to five years to life in prison, and while it’s unclear what became of Rabel records show that Goldyne Pizer was released from prison a few years later and died in Los Angeles in 1998 at age 83.