Who Killed the Fudge King?

Who Killed the Fudge King?

How I (possibly) solved a cold case on my summer vacation.

The Atavist Magazine, No. 143

Tom Donaghy writes for theater, television, and film. His plays have been produced by the Atlantic Theater Company and Playwrights Horizons, among others. He created the ABC drama The Whole Truth and cocreated, with Lee Daniels, the Fox musical drama Star.

Editors: Jonah Ogles and Seyward Darby
Art Director: Ed Johnson
Copy Editor: Sean Cooper
Fact Checker: Kyla Jones
Illustrator: Nate Sweitzer

Published in September 2023.

The fudge sold at Copper Kettle was so creamy, so sweet, so beyond compare, that many candy shops on the Ocean City boardwalk didn’t even sell fudge, because there was no point. During summer vacations to the Jersey Shore in the 1970s, my father would take my brother and me as a treat, when we behaved. A pretty girl in a pinafore would greet us outside with a tray of free shavings. We’d load up on them until her smile strained, then proceed inside. Once we popped actual cubes of the magic stuff into our tiny mouths, we were as high as kids are allowed to be.

For decades, Copper Kettle lived in my head as a kind of childhood memory-scape: the salt air coming off the ocean, the shiny vats of molten fudge, the too much sugar all at once. Then, during the pandemic, my family decided to return to the Jersey Shore for my mother’s birthday, so everyone could gather outside. I told my brother we should make our way back to Copper Kettle, and he informed me that it had long since gone out of business. He had some more information too: about what had become of Harry Anglemyer, the man behind the fudge.

In the early 1960s, Harry had a string of Copper Kettle Fudge shops up and down the Shore. So revered were his stores that Harry was known far and wide as the Fudge King. He was even in talks to build a fudge factory—something that would’ve taken his Willy Wonka–ness to the next level—when he was savagely beaten to death on Labor Day 1964. His body was stuffed under the dashboard of his Lincoln Continental, parked at an after-hours nightclub called the Dunes. The case was never solved.

I spent the next two years sorting through a trove of whispers and accusations around the murder. At first I was just curious, but the more I learned about Harry—a figure beloved by friends and strangers alike—the more intent I was to identify his killer.

I scoured blogs, Facebook groups, newspaper archives, and thinly veiled fictional accounts of the crime. As one local put it, over the years a veritable “Jersey Shore QAnon” had blossomed around the murder, raising questions of culture, class, sexuality, and hierarches of power. I discovered a plausible myth, a trove of red herrings, and, finally, what appeared to be the truth.

Almost six decades on, I wasn’t sure anyone wanted to hear it. When I visited Ocean City while reporting this story, a shop owner I engaged about Harry Anglemyer lowered her voice and said, “You know he was murdered, don’t you?”

I admitted that I did.

She responded, by way of warning: “You sneeze in this town and everyone hears it.”

The Fudge King became one of the richest men for miles, with no qualms about flashing his wealth.

Harry Anglemyer, a stocky charmer out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born in 1927. His high school summers were spent in Wildwood, New Jersey, where he apprenticed at Laura’s Fudge Shop. He was told that this was a little sissy. He didn’t care.

He left high school to join the Navy, served two years at the end of World War II, then returned to the Shore to open his own fudge shop in 1947. In those days, Ocean City seemed postcard perfect. Ten blocks at its widest, situated on a barrier island about 11 miles south of Atlantic City, it was lined with boarding houses, deep porches with rattan rockers, and striped canvas awnings that softened the summer sun. It called itself—and still does—America’s Greatest Family Resort.

The author Gay Talese, who grew up there, once described Ocean City as “founded in 1879 by Methodist ministers and other Prohibitionists who wished to establish an island of abstinence and propriety.” Prohibitionists remain. To this day, you can’t buy booze within city limits. Or have a cocktail at a restaurant. Or go to a bar, since there are none. If you want to bend an elbow, you must belong to one of the few private clubs that allow it. You can also import your own adult beverages, stopping at the Circle Liquor Store in Somers Point before entering town across the Ninth Street Bridge.

You would think that such a gauntlet might encourage at least a semblance of abstinence and propriety, but a 2017 USA Today article deemed Ocean City the drunkest city in New Jersey. It was and is a place of contradictions.

Just like Harry Anglemyer was a man of contradictions. He donated generously to civic causes and charities, including religious ones. He sat on the city’s planning board at the behest of the mayor. He joined the Masons and the chamber of commerce. He befriended prominent men and their wives, whom he squired to social functions when their husbands were busy. He hobnobbed with local luminaries, including the Kelly family of Philadelphia, who kept a summer cottage in Ocean City that Grace Kelly visited—first as a child, then as a movie star, then as a princess. Harry was so well regarded that 1,500 people showed up at the Godfrey-Smith Funeral Home in September 1964 to view his body. Businesspeople, politicians, and socialites came to pay their respects, packing the place with flowers.

Many of them also knew of Harry’s other, less civic-minded side. When he wasn’t delighting families with his fudge or charming the local elite, he liked to go out. He shut down bars. He was a fixture at Atlantic City’s racetrack, where he played the horses. He spent time at the nearby Air National Guard base. During the summer of 1964, he seemed to have acquired boyfriends from both locations.

Harry was, in fact, a little sissy.

Which everyone kind of knew. He was 37 and handsome, he’d never married, and he dressed fastidiously. He had a small dog, acquired on a trip to Fort Lauderdale—which, he confided to a friend, was perhaps “too obvious.” He once had a girlfriend who wondered why they weren’t having sex. She seems to have been the only one in the dark. Men both known and strange came and went from his large suite of breezy, ocean-view rooms above Copper Kettle, right on the boardwalk, where he lived in the summer.

Harry took no pains to hide any of this, an astonishing fact given the pre-Stonewall, postwar pinko-homo panic. In the early 1960s, and especially in small towns like Ocean City, which had a population of about 7,500 during the off-season, men were expected to find a girl and put a ring on her. Especially handsome men with killer smiles, fitted jackets, and penny loafers that shined like onyx.

But something saved Harry from too much scrutiny—for a time, anyway. He was an entrepreneur, and he elevated the boardwalk’s game. He saw the future, which might have been his shield. Other local business owners looked past his sexuality. They wanted even a little piece of his magic.

Harry placed gleaming copper kettles in the windows of his boardwalk shop, poured in liquid fudge, and positioned above them teenage boys with bronzed skin and sparkling white teeth, gripping big wooden paddles, churning and churning. Outside on the boardwalk, children panted as they watched, their faces cracked from too much sun, their bare feet sandy, their eyes wet and hungry. They wanted that fudge so bad. At night, after the last box was sold and the shop had closed, the kettles remained pin-spotted from above like Ziegfeld girls.

Money surged in like the tide. Soon Harry had shops in Atlantic City, Sea Isle City, and Stone Harbor as well. The Fudge King became one of the richest men for miles, with no qualms about flashing his wealth. He purchased a two-story colonial in the Gardens, Ocean City’s fanciest neighborhood, where he lived in the off-season, and kept two cars: the Lincoln Continental where his body would later be found, and a Chrysler Imperial purchased just months before his death.

Most spectacularly, he acquired a blinding ring: five emerald-cut diamonds, approximately eight carats total, set in a band of white gold. It was valued at about $10,000, almost $100,000 in today’s dollars. Harry wore it everywhere. Which was quite a big deal. With the exception of a few families, including the famous Kellys, whose fortune came from brickmaking, Ocean City was for the most part a resort of the working class. Its tourists and year-round residents had likely never seen such jewels except on television, worn by the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor. Or Liberace.

Harry’s success made him an object of allure and envy, though by all accounts he shared his fortune with others. He frequently bought dinners for his staff. He gave loans to friends and told them to take their time paying him back. (After his death, his family found a drawer full of IOUs.) He even had a brand-new clothes dryer delivered to a young mother burdened by a bad marriage. She wept knowing there was at least one good man in the world.

That’s what most people said about Harry: how good he was, generous and kind, fun-loving and curious. But in the summer of 1964, they noticed something else about him. The Fudge King was uncharacteristically on edge.

Harry was up against the upright citizens of America’s Greatest Family Resort who feared it would become another Atlantic City, that den of iniquity next door that was fast sinking into squalor and corruption.

Of course, the whole country was on edge. JFK had just been assassinated. Vietnam was heating up, and the draft was coming for young American men, including those stirring that fudge in Copper Kettle’s windows. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, and now Ocean City could no longer confine people of color to the Fifth Street beach. (Before that, according to one resident, if Black beachgoers breeched the jetty that separated their beach from the other beaches, they were greeted immediately by a chorus of “Go back!”)

Meanwhile, the Mad Men era of whiskey sours and steak Diane was giving way to the Beatles, beads, and flower power. On August 30, the week before Harry’s murder, the Fab Four themselves came through Atlantic City on their first North American tour, and the young people of the state lost their minds.

The youthquake was on the horizon. The Greatest Generation was holding its breath. If Ocean City wasn’t immune from time’s great march, what was?

Certainly not Harry, who saw himself out in front of that particular parade, a fact he’d made clear two years prior by challenging Ocean City’s so-called blue laws. For decades the blue laws had handed over the seventh day almost entirely to the Lord. Most business was prohibited, unless it was church business. You attended service, then went home and kept quiet.

Abstinence and propriety were enforced, as merchants who occasionally tested the laws learned. Two arcade owners were fined for opening their doors; a grocer was arrested for selling a cantaloupe. But generally the boardwalk, both its amusements and its stores, remained shuttered. An ordinance forbade Harry from even making fudge on Sunday.

All this seemed ridiculous to him. How could a resort community be closed for business for an entire day every weekend? The weekends were the moneymakers! If it rained on Saturday, keeping beachgoers at home, it was a total bust. Harry had come to believe that “puritanical restrictions” were holding Ocean City back.

Some in town were inclined to agree. Those who owned businesses, specifically. They appointed Harry head of both the Ocean City Civic Betterment Association and the Ocean City Boardwalk Association. Harry seized the moment, gathering friends and colleagues, telling them that while it was fine for shops to be closed on Sunday mornings for church, they should be allowed to open for the remainder of the day. He further informed them that he would state his case privately to D. Allen Stretch, Ocean City’s director of public safety and the custodian of the blue laws.

Stretch did not agree with Harry. Even a little. He wasn’t about to have the so-called Fudge King tell him what to do, no matter how many business owners Harry had at his back.

Emboldened, affronted, or perhaps not quite reading the room, Harry refused to stand down. During a meeting at city hall, he decided to say aloud to everyone in town what he’d said to Stretch. All hell broke loose as an opposing faction coalesced—one that wanted to keep the laws in place. Harry was up against the upright citizens of America’s Greatest Family Resort who feared it would become another Atlantic City, that den of iniquity next door that was fast sinking into squalor and corruption.

Ocean City’s commissioners, wringing their hands, decided to put the matter of the blue laws to a referendum. When voting day arrived in May 1963, enough locals sided with Harry that the laws were relaxed, allowing certain shops to open their doors on Sunday for the first time. Newspapers reported Harry’s triumph over the pious prohibitionists, who were none too pleased.

This is where things get weird.

Three weeks after the referendum, Harry was arrested on three counts of carnal indecency, or what the press described as “homosexual behavior.” He was fingerprinted and booked at the Cape May County Courthouse. The thing that everyone had pretended to overlook was now being used to indict him. This was no misdemeanor. Sodomy laws were still on the books in New Jersey, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Interestingly, the accusers were all public employees: Thomas Sullivan, a bridgetender for the state highway department; James Luddy, who worked in the office of the city engineer; and a local detective, sergeant Dominick Longo, who claimed that “an incident” had occurred in Harry’s apartment above the fudge shop. An explanation for why Longo was up there in the first place came from none other than D. Allen Stretch, who announced that he had instructed Longo, an ambitious cop looking to advance his career, to “get the goods” on Harry because of complaints his office had received, although Stretch did not specify what those complaints were.

According to Longo’s New Jersey Superior Court indictment, Harry Anglemyer “unlawfully, malicious, lewdly and indecently did take the private parts of him the said Dominick Longo in the mouth.” Stretch insisted to the Philadelphia Inquirer that if Longo had permitted Harry’s “unnatural attentions,” it was only because he was “doing his duty.” (The other two alleged incidents came to light soon after Longo made his accusation—apparently, they’d gone unreported for years.)

Harry was furious. He vowed to the Philadelphia Inquirer that he would continue his campaign against the blue laws “despite this legal action which has been brought against me personally.” He then promptly filed his own complaint against Longo. He didn’t deny that there had been what the press called an “incident.” Rather he claimed that it was Longo who’d tried to force Harry into giving him a blow job.

None of this was a good look for America’s Greatest Family Resort. Yet however much the thought of homosexuality disgusted many people, some residents quietly agreed with their beloved Harry that Stretch and Longo were retaliating for his campaign against the blue laws. A grand jury, however, upheld the charges against Harry while dismissing those against Longo.

The first case—the one regarding Sullivan, the bridgetender—went to trial in early April 1964. Harry was acquitted in 18 minutes. The jury, it turned out, felt that something was amiss. Harry took the news in stride, telling a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was a “sitting duck for all the nuts around here until I beat the rest of these charges.” He then vowed to permanently dismantle Ocean City’s blue laws, come hell or high water.

The town roiled, people chose sides, and a trial was scheduled to litigate the remaining charges against Harry—the ones involving Longo—two weeks after Labor Day.

This is when friends noticed Harry’s fastidious presentation begin to fray. Trouble seemed to follow him. He was the victim of several robbery attempts. Some he reported, others he only discussed with friends. Investigators would later learn that he was rolled for money by two young punks, one of whom dragged him from his car at a stoplight and gave him a black eye in the middle of the intersection.

In the weeks leading up to his death, Harry sported not one but two black eyes. He laughed them off as injuries from clumsy falls or from dancing too hard and running into a wall. Maybe he didn’t want people to be more worried about him than they already were. One of his fudge cutters suggested that he hire a bodyguard. Harry said no thanks, he could take care of himself.

Later, people would speculate that he was meeting Longo, that the latter had suggested a late-night rendezvous to lure the Fudge King to his death.

Harry loved the Dunes, an after-hours nightclub just over the bridge from Ocean City, parked on a sandbar at the edge of Egg Harbor Township, an unincorporated no-man’s land. “Dunes to dawn!” patrons liked to say. Harry said it a lot that summer. He was well-known at the Dunes, to staff and patrons alike. Some even suggested it was where he’d met Longo the night “the incident” took place.

The music at the Dunes was loud, the beer plentiful, the air sweaty. On the night Harry walked through the door for the last time, 2,500 people were crammed inside, dancing to house bands the Rooftoppers and the Carroll Brothers.

Harry had been on a bit of a bar crawl that night. First he went to the Bala Inn to arrange for Copper Kettle’s annual employees’ dinner the following night—he told proprietor Engelbert Bruenig to expect at least 80 people. Then he was off to the Jolly Roger Cocktail Lounge, before heading to Steel’s Ship Bar for some live music. Next up was Bay Shores, followed by Tony Marts, where Bill Haley and His Comets sometimes jammed. Here, Harry invited two women to come with him to the Dunes, but it was 2 a.m., too late for their blood.

He tried again at O’Byrne’s—this time inviting a former Copper Kettle worker and his girlfriend. They too said no. On the way out, Harry asked Mrs. O’Byrne herself if she wanted to come with him. She declined.  

Harry continued on to the Dunes. He had to meet someone there. He seemed ambivalent about the mysterious rendezvous, but also determined to go. He mentioned this to a couple of people that night, in one of the many places where he was allegedly seen. Over the years Harry, like Elvis, was reported to have been seen in more places the night he died than would have been humanly possible.

Later, people would speculate that he was meeting Longo, that the latter had suggested a late-night rendezvous to lure the Fudge King to his death. If Longo could get Harry out of the picture, people theorized, there wouldn’t be a trial in September and Longo could get back to his ambition. (He would become Ocean City’s chief of police in 1975, and remain in that position for 20 years.) But considering the two men’s legal tango, it didn’t make sense for Longo to have initiated the encounter, much less at a place where they’d both be recognized. And even if Longo had made such a request, surely Harry wouldn’t have fallen for it.

Who, then, was Harry meeting?

Sometime between 3:30 and 4 a.m., his maroon-colored Lincoln, its whitewall tires dusted with sand, pulled up to the Dunes. The parking lot was so full, Harry had to circle the building, and two doormen would later recall him searching for a spot. He eventually found one on Ocean Drive.

Once parked, he proceeded in the side door, box of fudge in hand. (He’d brought every proprietor he saw that night their favorite kind, as an end-of-summer gift.) He settled in at the bar, where owner John McCann—a former bootlegger—bought him a drink. They shared some laughs, including one at Harry’s expense: When a man on the prowl for a date wandered over, McCann pointed to Harry and said, “Why do you need a girl when Harry’s right here?”

Harry laughed the loudest, bought people drinks, then fought off sleep while waiting for whomever he was supposed to meet. At about 5 a.m., he left.

Six hours later, as the tide went out and the mud hens squawked, one of Harry’s delivery men, making a fudge run to Atlantic City, observed his boss’s Lincoln still in the parking lot. Peering through the window, he saw Harry’s body wedged on the floor of the passenger side. Conspicuously absent was his spectacular diamond ring.

He was 37 years old.

The news hit the papers that afternoon. People in town were horrified to read that Harry had been found with “severe head injuries,” his skull fractured in at least two places. Though some were quoted as saying that Harry “practically asked for it,” or that he’d made “too many important enemies.” In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Stretch and Longo expressed their regret that the criminal charges brought against Harry never resulted in his “being ordered to accept psychiatric treatment which he badly needed.”

The rumor mill roared to life. Was this a revenge killing? A robbery gone wrong? A crime of passion? Because it wasn’t immediately clear who had killed the Fudge King or why, a fog of dread set in. The Dunes was padlocked. The grocer who’d been fined for selling the Sunday cantaloupe claimed that he’d received an anonymous phone call warning him not to drive by the Dunes ever again—as he did every day on the way to market in Atlantic City—or he too might meet his end.

The investigation ran into an immediate snag: The crime had occurred on the busiest day of the year for New Jersey state police. Potential witnesses had already scattered to the winds. With the summer season coming to a close, some 150,000 people took to the New Jersey Turnpike, migrating back to their suburban lives in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. To make matters worse, there were no fingerprints in Harry’s car, the result of what police described as a “film of dust which adhered to the dampness of the dew from the previous night.”

But within 48 hours, investigators caught a break. They identified two witnesses to the murder: a young couple, Joyce Lickfeld and Kenneth McGinley, who were sitting in a red convertible parked two car lengths behind Harry’s Lincoln. The couple reported that when Harry approached his car after leaving the Dunes, he was with another man. Lickfeld and McGinley weren’t locals, so they didn’t recognize Harry or who he was with. The two men slipped into Harry’s car, and all was quiet for several minutes.

Then Lickfeld and McGinley heard someone shout, “Get out of here, you creep!” Harry and the man burst from the car and brawled onto Ocean Drive, tangling viciously. Soon after, the couple heard a loud crack as Harry’s head hit the pavement.

According to Lickfeld and McGinley, the man told Harry to get up, but Harry lay motionless, facing up toward the crescent moon. Cars began to honk; one, parked across Ocean Drive, seemed to do so with particular urgency. Suddenly, two men appeared out of the darkness, running toward Harry. They grabbed him under each arm and dragged him, penny loafers scraping the pavement, to his car. They told the couple that they had matters in hand. The couple, shaken, went inside the Dunes.

Lickfeld and McGinley helped police make a sketch of the killer. If anyone else saw what happened, they never came forward.

Months went by. The Dunes remained padlocked. Harry’s sister, Elaine, took over the fudge shops. Then months became years. Finally, in 1967, authorities announced that they had indicted someone, but not anyone who’d been whispered about by locals. Instead, it was a man named Christopher Brendan Hughes, 27, who was in a federal prison for his part in an extortion ring that targeted gay men. But while the Kansas City Star reported that “shaking down homosexuals had been Hughes’s major source of income for several years,” he insisted to the paper that he was no killer and pleaded not guilty to murdering Harry. Still, the authorities felt sure that they had their man—not least because Hughes had been in possession of Harry’s ring.

Harry’s sister told reporters that her family was glad to see a suspect in custody, and many Shore locals agreed that Hughes must have been the culprit. Three years after the crime, they were hungry for a trial, for answers. Meanwhile, Joyce Lickfeld did her best to keep her head down. She was told she would be the prosecution’s most important witness—she, not McGinley, had gotten a look at the killer’s face.

In September 1969, the case finally went to trial. This was just two months after the Stonewall riots, and the culture was shifting. Gay people were suddenly willing to fight their oppressors. Some were beginning to think of them as a protected class. In this climate, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office might have felt a keener pressure to convict the killer of a well-known gay man.

Harry’s bloody penny loafers, slacks, Ban-Lon polo, and pinstriped jacket were entered into evidence. Scores of witnesses were called. Expectations ran high that there would finally be justice. But the whole thing sank like a stone. A onetime cellmate of Hughes’s named Ronnie Lee Murray, who had an uncanny ability to break out of jail—he’d managed three escapes in his career, and was even caught trying to flee his cell in the weeks just before the trial—refused to repeat under oath what he’d apparently told police during the investigation: that Hughes had confessed to the murder. Even being charged with obstruction of justice didn’t loosen Murray’s tongue. When the judge asked why he’d changed his mind, he replied, “I don’t want to get into it.”

A conviction would have to rely entirely on Lickfeld’s testimony. She took the stand and was asked to describe what she’d seen at the Dunes, and then to point out who in the courtroom resembled the man who killed Harry. Lickfeld fretted and fumbled and looked right past Hughes, who was sitting a few feet away from her. Instead, she pointed to a very surprised sheriff standing in the back. The courtroom erupted.

Hughes’s attorney, Leland Stanford III, called no witnesses. Hughes was acquitted in under an hour. His wife and sister leapt from their seats and cried, “My God!” The Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported that unless new suspects appeared, “law enforcement officials regard the murder case as closed.”

No suspects ever did.

The trial had been a horrible show, nothing more, she told me. She was glad someone “on the outside” was finally looking into the story.

For a long time, for a lot of people, this is how the story ended: abruptly, unceremoniously, with what seemed like more questions than answers. But a cohort of Ocean City residents insisted that the answers were right there for anyone who bothered to look. They believed that a toxic brew of prejudice, rage, and power had doomed the Fudge King.

I agreed, and thought that the story might make a great screenplay—a kind of South Jersey noir or David Lynch fantasia, where the flowers are pretty above the surface but gnarly worms lurk just below. Yet, soon I was hooked more deeply by the story of a fellow gay man living a relatively out life in the town where my family had spent our summer vacations. Someone whose reward for trying to yank Ocean City into the future was to become a target of hate and hypocrisy.

I started my research by reaching out to William Kelly, a journalist, local historian, and blogger who had written about the case on the ground in South Jersey. Initially we talked on the phone. His voice was reedy, phlegmy—I imagined him with a white beard and a fisherman’s cap. He assured me that the case could be solved entirely by the evidence from the investigation. But law enforcement didn’t have that evidence, he told me, because it had been destroyed. Which was convenient, he claimed, since law enforcement itself was involved in the crime. Ocean City power players at the highest levels.

There was someone he wanted me to talk to immediately: the young mother in a bad marriage to whom Harry had gifted that new clothes dryer. Now in her eighties, she remained angry about Harry’s murder, adamant that he’d been crushed by a cabal of powerful locals—and certain she knew who’d killed him. The trial had been a horrible show, nothing more, she told me. She was glad someone “on the outside” was finally looking into the story. She felt that it was time for “the truth to be known.” And while she insisted on remaining anonymous, she did have some information for me.

She was at the Dunes the night Harry was killed, she told me. Her father was a manager there. She saw Harry leave, and whom he left with. “Everyone knows who got away with murder,” she told me.

The killer, she claimed, was a ne’er-do-well from a prominent family. He was still very much alive, in Florida, to which he’d relocated soon after the crime. Where exactly in Florida she didn’t know. But she promised to engage his family in Ocean City, with whom she socialized on occasion. Perhaps they would tell her where he was.

For a while it seemed like this would happen, but then the balking began. “Maybe this whole thing wasn’t such a good idea,” she said. Then: “You have to promise me you won’t tell anyone.” Then: “Oh, I won’t see his family for a while.…”

When I expressed my frustration to Kelly, he advised me to forget about her, but to follow up on what she’d told me. What I needed, he said, was to get my hands on a certain affidavit that would prove her allegations. The document in question, which Kelly claimed to have seen, was dictated by a milkman named Lou Esposito who’d been out making deliveries the morning Harry’s body was found. Esposito told Kelly that he’d driven by the Dunes, seen state police examining the scene, and pulled off the road to learn what he could. At that point, he claimed, he’d heard voices behind him in the marsh. “He didn’t have to die,” one of them supposedly said. Esposito then turned around and recognized three local men, including the one the young mother told me she’d seen leave the Dunes with Harry. He was throwing a bloody shirt into the water. Esposito then sped off, believing he’d gone undetected. That night, however, he got a call demanding his silence or else. Soon after, Esposito purported, he was awarded a long sought-after job with the fire department—a reward, he believed, for keeping his mouth shut.

At the end of his life, Esposito wanted to unburden himself, so he dictated all this to his lawyer. He then gave a copy of the affidavit to Kelly, who promptly made copies for several of his friends for safekeeping. Kelly had since misplaced his copy, and most of the people he’d given the others to had died—as had Esposito and his lawyer. The only person who might still have one, Kelly said, was a local architect named Jack Snyder. But Snyder didn’t return any of my calls. Or emails. Or letters. Because he had recently died.

I felt more than a bit of skepticism about the affidavit. But at this point, I was in thrall to the local myth, however unbelievable it sounded. I was also struck by an anonymous comment in one of Kelly’s blogs that said of this story, “I believe the delivery man you refer to was my dad. He told me many of the details you mentioned [before] he died in 2003.”

If this was Esposito’s son, perhaps he would know where the affidavit was. Kelly told me that the son had the same name as his father and was “listed in the phone book.” So I called him. Lou Junior picked up on the first ring, listened to my spiel about the affidavit, and paused before responding.

It was a dirty bit of business, he finally said—a broad cover-up, he agreed. Harry was a great guy who did a lot for Ocean City, and law enforcement had most definitely been involved in his death. Lou had been ten years old when Harry was murdered, and even then he knew that Harry was gay. Everybody did. But he couldn’t help me with the affidavit, because, he told me, I was talking to the wrong Lou Esposito. See, there had been two Lou Espositos in town, and I was talking to the son of the other one.

His father had known the Lou Esposito who supposedly gave the affidavit, because they used to get each other’s mail. His father had even made payments on the other man’s car loan before the mistake was discovered. The correct Lou Esposito had some daughters, he told me. Maybe they would have their father’s affidavit? They were still around, but he didn’t know their names: “They got married and stuff,” he said.

I longed to set sail from the land of dead architects and lost affidavits. I wanted concrete information. Preferably a gun that smoked.

I decided to return to Ocean City, declare myself a child of its summers, and talk to locals and the law enforcement agencies that had handled the initial investigation. Maybe doors would open, and documents—if any were left—would be coughed up. At the very least I could hear for myself that they no longer existed.

I flew from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in May 2022, picked up my brother and our mother—who asked, “Is it wrong to be excited about a murder?”—and headed down the Shore.

The three of us stood at 11th Street and the Boardwalk, where Harry’s flagship store had been. The shop was no longer the gleaming showstopper I remembered, and it now had the affrontery to sell someone else’s fudge. Above it was the suite of rooms where Harry had lived, where Longo went “to get the goods.” Its many windows were flung open, and inside a cleaning crew busied about, readying the place for summer.

Standing in the shade of the old Copper Kettle, the full force of what I experienced as a child suddenly returned. Something had never felt quite right about Ocean City: I could never really be a part of it, however much I wanted to. There was nowhere for someone like me, with my queer desires, to go in America’s Greatest Family Resort, except under or out.

Which made me wonder: Why had Harry stayed? Why didn’t he park his talents elsewhere? In the 1960s, large communities of gay people were establishing themselves in his hometown of Philadelphia and in New York. Harry had to know about them. Why would such a charming and innovative businessman remain in Ocean City?

Just then my phone flashed: “Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.” The very office where Harry had been booked on lewdness charges. Before my flight, I’d left a message with Lieutenant Joe Landis, its LGBTQ liaison, thinking I’d have a sympathetic ear.

Landis told me that he was not in his office, that he was still working remotely because of the pandemic, and that the records on the lewdness charges against Harry were probably long gone. He suggested I call Captain Pat Snyder at the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, which might have records on Harry’s murder.

I left Captain Snyder a message, then followed my mother into a bookstore, where she asked a clerk if they had any books on Copper Kettle. This was the clerk who lowered her voice and said, “You sneeze in this town and everybody hears it.” Realizing that I had a live one, I pushed the issue of Harry’s death, asking if she had any idea who might have been involved. She paused, then wrote a name on a piece of scratch paper and passed it to me.

“Longo.”

She then insinuated that Harry and Longo had been having an affair. My mother looked at me, her eyes big behind her glasses. On the same piece of paper, I wrote another name—the one given to me by the young mother in a bad marriage. The man she said had left the Dunes with Harry, the same man Lou Esposito allegedly swore was one of the men he saw in the marsh after the killing. I passed it back to the clerk.

She glanced at it. Yeah, he was involved, too.

Could she tell me more? She exchanged looks with another clerk behind her. No, she said, that’s all she had. Could she think of anyone who might tell me more? She suggested a local author who had written a book that included a chapter about Harry’s murder, albeit in fictionalized form. But the book was out of print. And its title escaped her.

I asked if I could have the author’s name so I could search for the book online. She exchanged another look with her fellow clerk. No, I could not have his name—he was a local who wrote under a pseudonym “because he knew too much.”

But he came into the store all the time, she added. I left my contact for her to convey when she saw him next. She promised she’d pass it along, to which I responded, trying to break the accumulating tension, “I’m just in it for the fudge.”

The two clerks chuckled, then fell silent as we left.

I decided to call the young mother in a bad marriage, to tell her that I was in town and that someone had just confirmed the name she’d given to me. She seemed startled that I was in Ocean City, claimed she was under the weather, and said she’d call back. I never heard from her.

Bells were ringing, locals were ghosting, and there was, I have to admit, something delectable in the Nancy Drewness of it all.

“Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office” flashed on my phone. Captain Snyder himself was now calling, intrigued by the message I’d left. His voice was serious, full, resonant. I launched into my spiel about the Fudge King’s unsolved murder.

“Was that the case where the victim was gay and romantically involved with a cop?” he asked.

He told me that he would ask around for any materials that might still exist, although after all these years it was probably a long shot.

I hung up and googled Captain Snyder. He was one of the top detectives in Atlantic County and a graduate of the FBI Academy. Not a bad person to have taken me seriously. Better still, from his online photo he looked to be somewhere in his forties—which meant that he was one or two generations away from anyone still spooked by the crime. Also, he didn’t stumble on the word “gay” like several locals had up to this point.

I circled back to William Kelly, the blogger. Could he meet? He suggested the Anchorage, one of the bars where Harry was allegedly seen the last night he was alive. I left my mother and brother on the boardwalk and drove our Kia rental to Somers Point, where the Anchorage, a candy-colored Victorian tavern, sits just a few yards from Great Egg Harbor Bay.

I immediately spotted Kelly at the bar—a big man in his seventies, ruddy, with watery eyes, his breathing loud and labored. He was sitting with his girlfriend, a Kewpie-ish redhead somewhere in her sixties, and a male friend, around Kelly’s age but smaller, taut, watchful.

Kelly told me that he’d just had a blood transfusion and wasn’t sure how long he’d last with his health problems. Every man is remembered for one thing he did on this earth, he said. Solving the Fudge King’s murder would not be his. He implied that he had bigger fish to fry, glancing around. His friends were silent.

I wondered if we shouldn’t move to a quiet corner. We were in full view of the other patrons. But he said that he wasn’t scared to discuss the crime out in the open, or to have written repeatedly about it over the decades, naming names and pointing fingers at people he’d known his entire life.

“What could they do,” he said, “kill me?”

Kelly told me not to put too much stock in Captain Snyder’s promise to help. “He had to say that,” he said. He offered more names of people who might have intel on Harry’s murder. A well-connected local who had mob connections. Another milkman who’s now a real estate agent. His friend suggested that I talk to a UPS guy who parked himself on a barstool at Gregory’s at 5 p.m. every day.

I felt myself once again drifting from the facts.

In the small talk gluing it all together, we got onto the topic of the Warren Commission. Kelly looked at me incredulously and said, “You don’t actually believe one gunman killed JFK, do you?”

I slumped, dejected and day drunk, into the parking lot—just as Captain Snyder called back. He had found something, he said, sounding a little amazed. Materials pertaining to the investigation.

What materials? I asked, astonished.

He was not permitted to say, he replied.

I said I’d be right over. He said no, I would need to file a public records request. The entire process would take some weeks, and he couldn’t guarantee that what had been found would be made available to me.

OK, I said, could he at least tell me the nature of what he’d found?

No, he could not.

Because the windshield of their convertible was covered with dew, she couldn’t see what was going on, so she peeked over it. That’s when she witnessed Harry being assaulted.

Back home in Los Angeles, I called a lawyer friend to ask her about submitting an Open Public Records application. She offered to be the Harper Lee to my Truman Capote, holding my hand as I drafted the request. She cautioned me not to get my hopes up: “Records in these cases could mean cops’ coffee receipts.” I worked with my Harper, lit votives, burned sage, sent my request, and was rewarded two weeks later with a terse email that read, “The agency possesses no responsive records.”

I called Captain Snyder with more than a little bass in my voice and said, “What gives?” He paused, reiterated that some materials had been found, and instructed me to file again—this time to a certain person’s attention. I refiled, cc’ing the good captain to let him know I meant business.

Two weeks later I received in my inbox 168 pages of investigative material pertaining to Harry Anglemyer’s murder: from the initial investigation by the New Jersey State Police, through the handoff to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office some years later, and up to but not including the trial. The courtroom records, I learned after filing another request, had been destroyed, which was standard procedure at the time for any trial resulting in an acquittal.

Captain Snyder had been slyly schooling me about how to get what I wanted, and now it was pouring out of my printer. Scores of typewritten interviews and reports, much of it reprinted from old-timey carbon copies, then mimeographed, then digitized into PDFs. There were redactions everywhere, and big chunks of it were out of order, as if everything had been thrown loosely together and shoved in a filing cabinet.

I stayed up all night reading, ruining my eyes. The pages filled out gaps in the news reports from the day, revealing much that had been hidden from the public. I’d expected Mayberry-level ineptitude, but this was a comprehensive investigation with almost 100 witnesses, handled by the New Jersey State Police, law enforcement agencies in several other states, and the FBI.

According to news reports, they began by looking for anyone with damaged fists, as the assault had been so brutal. Meanwhile, they talked to people who’d seen Harry in the 24 hours prior to his death: His secretary, Daniel LeRoy. His sister Elaine, who also had an apartment above the fudge shop. Dunes staff who remained local when the summer ended. All of them were eliminated as suspects. Many couldn’t recall seeing Harry at all that night, nor could two Egg Harbor Township patrolmen assigned to the area—although one had noticed Harry’s distinctive car gleaming under the parking lot’s lights.

Two bartenders who’d been swigging champagne in the parking lot said that they’d seen Harry in the hours before his death with his head on the bar. Standing next to him was a man in his late twenties, taller than Harry, who had long dark hair and was wearing a dark suit; he was “possibly Italian.” The bartenders asked the man if Harry was “bothering” him. The man said no. They asked Harry if he needed help to his car. He said what he always said, that he could take care of himself.

The police interviewed Copper Kettle staff, including a former fudge cutter who’d apparently vowed to “get Anglemyer’s ring by Labor Day.” They also spoke to a local with a “Beatles haircut” who turned out to be one of the punks behind Harry’s black eyes. The young man claimed that Harry had grabbed him “by the privates,” then admitted to being after Harry’s ring too. Both the fudge cutter and the punk had criminal records. But when they took polygraphs, they registered no reaction when questioned about the killing. Police ruled them out as suspects.

Investigators soon located Joyce Lickfeld and Kenneth McGinley, who were in their twenties and had broken up earlier in the summer, only to run into each other that fateful night at the Dunes. They weren’t up to no good, as some newspapers implied—they were discussing what had torpedoed their relationship. (Eventually, the intensity of the investigation and their role in it would bring them closer, and they would marry.)

Police asked them to recount what they’d witnessed that night. Lickfeld said that they were sitting in the car when “two fellows” approached from the rear. One of the men, presumably Harry, was “walking like a girl.” The two men entered the car in front of Lickfeld, then, after a few minutes, exited and began arguing. Because the windshield of their convertible was covered with dew, she couldn’t see what was going on, so she peeked over it. That’s when she witnessed Harry being assaulted. McGinley intervened, offering his help. Harry’s assailant replied, “That’s OK, buddy,” as if he and Harry were just a couple of drunk friends having a bad night.

Lickfeld told police that she got a good look at the killer because she was sitting against the convertible’s passenger-side door, facing the Dunes, when Harry and the man walked by. She said that the man was in his late twenties, white but with a dark complexion, and sported slicked-back hair. He was “maybe of Italian extraction,” medium build, taller than average, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and black tie. This sounded to me a lot like the man the two drunk bouncers saw Harry talking to at the bar.

When the sketch of the killer was published in newspapers, people called investigators in droves.

It looked like a cook in a Wildwood restaurant who “beats up women and queers.”

Someone’s daughter’s piano teacher.

“That manager of Aunt Jemima Restaurant.”

“An usher at the General Motors exhibit” at the New York World’s Fair.

A man who “acted like a homosexual, spoke of hairdressing, and made remarks of being in Harry’s pad.”

People inserted themselves everywhere, throwing enemies under the bus, suggesting people who bore no resemblance whatsoever to the sketch, and offering up their opinions as they pretended to be Harry’s best friend—or distanced themselves from him when questioned about being seen with him that summer.

At one point, investigators wondered if Harry’s nephew Charles, who worked at Copper Kettle, was involved in the killing, but Charles denied it. He said that he’d always worried about his uncle. When Harry “talked openly about his homosexual problems,” Charles counseled him to “do it elsewhere,” so as not to get in trouble in Ocean City. Yes, he’d sometimes followed his uncle, but only to make sure he was safe.

Some of the more promising information came from Catherine Lee Gordon, Harry’s maid. Gordon had seen quite a bit while keeping house for Harry that summer. Men came and went via the apartment’s three entrances. Investigators asked her to provide names of everyone who’d visited the apartment that summer, especially anyone she thought was close to him. Straight away she mentioned jockey Howard Grant, whom Harry had picked up at the Atlantic City racetrack. Grant had moved into the apartment in July, bringing with him his mother and one of her girlfriends.

Gordon also told police about airman Thomas Campbell, who’d come into the picture even before Grant moved out. Gordon found him more agreeable than the jockey. Campbell liked to play the piano, so a besotted Harry had one delivered to the apartment. Next came Campbell’s friends for raucous parties; they liked to sing into the wee hours, full of whiskey. This was the kind of party that took place the weekend before Harry’s death, Gordon said. It started with dinner, after which a man who resembled the sketch stopped by. Harry showed him around the apartment, but Catherine didn’t get the man’s name.

All these tips were dead ends. There is no record of Grant ever being questioned by police, and case files show Campbell learning about Harry’s death from a mutual friend on the beach, then flying to Germany a few days later to fulfill his Air Force duties.

Longo’s name comes up three times in the entire 168 pages. The first is with regard to an anonymous letter that arrived at the offices of the state police. “Why don’t you ask Longo what happened?” it read. “A couple of the ones involved in those ‘morals charges’ would love to have Harry out of the way.” Later, a caller told police that the sketch of the suspect looked like Longo, then hung up after refusing to give her name. The third reference to Longo came courtesy of the man himself: He contacted an investigator to say that the sketch resembled a “drifter from Longport whose father has an Esso gas station.” Longo knew this man to play the horses and hang out at the Dunes, and Ocean City police had a warrant out on him for writing bad checks.

Stretch’s name appears once in the files. An anonymous caller claimed, “Stretch is the guy who put the money up to have Anglemyer killed, and three henchmen did the job.” The tipster promised to call back the following week with more information but never did.

If police followed up on these tips—including Longo’s drifter—there’s no record of it in the files made available to me. Nor is there any documentation of Longo or Stretch being questioned about Harry’s death or providing alibis for the night of the murder. Though parts of the file were redacted, nothing I read suggested that law enforcement considered either man a suspect. Lickfeld and McGinley don’t seem to have been shown their photos either. I couldn’t ask Longo, who died in 2006, or Stretch, who died in 1985.

As I was coming to the end of the files, I found something that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up: a formal mention of the 1963 lewdness charges against Harry in a two-page memo issued by an Atlantic County detective. Dated the day after the murder, it lists his three accusers: bridgetender Thomas Sullivan, engineer James Luddy—but not Longo. Instead, the memo gives the third man as someone named Bill Blevin.

That was the name of the man the young mother in a bad marriage told me she saw leaving the Dunes with Harry. One of the names supposedly in Lou Esposito’s missing affidavit. The person the bookstore clerk believed was involved in the killing.

But how had Blevin’s name wound up replacing Longo’s in the memo? It appears nowhere else in the investigation files I received. And no one else I spoke to could connect Harry to Blevin.

I attempted to locate Blevin, turning up an address at a Fort Lauderdale strip mall and one on the Gulf Coast. Letters sent to both were returned. I reached out to his cousin Robert—who as it happened had worked with Longo on the local force before succeeding him as chief of police—and also to a surviving Blevin sibling, without success.

Then I got a tip. A friend of Blevin’s had heard that I was asking around, and he was willing to talk.

I was skeptical. The friend had been described to me by one local as someone who was less than trustworthy. Maybe so, but information he gave me checked out. He knew all the places Blevin had lived since leaving Ocean City when no one else did. And he provided me with Blevin’s obituary from 2002, printed by a newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee, establishing that he was not alive and well in Florida.

And the story he told me was this: For reasons that are unclear, Blevin had become a target of Longo’s ire and, knowing Longo’s expanding sphere of influence, set sail from the Shore forever.

This at least had a ring of truth. Longo, according to some of my local sources, had a history of personal retaliation. People started calling him King Dominick at a certain point because of the power he wielded around town. Still, this was just one man’s version of the past.

With Blevin’s obituary in hand, I was able to locate two of his children: Beth Blevin and Teri Gagliardi. My heart about stopped when they described their father as “Italian looking”—just like Lickfeld, McGinley, and the Dunes bouncers had characterized the man last seen with Harry. But the Blevin daughters also described their father as scrawny, which didn’t square with the description of the suspected killer. And neither Beth nor Teri had any recollection of the names Harry Anglemyer or Dominick Longo.

I was no closer to determining how Blevin’s name wound up in the memo instead of Longo’s. It certainly seemed odd, because everyone in town knew that it was Longo, not Blevin, who’d accused Harry of lewdness. (And Blevin’s name appears nowhere else in the investigation files.) Could Longo have replaced his own name with Blevin’s as part of his grudge against the man?

Maybe, so many years after the fact, no one could provide the answer. But I did begin to wonder if the erroneous memo naming Blevin, along with the references—or lack thereof—to Stretch and Longo in the case files, were the seeds from which a legend grew. Perhaps these mysteries made their way into Ocean City’s water, reaching people like William Kelly and the young mother in a bad marriage and the bookstore clerk—people perhaps inclined to believe that the grassy knoll was lousy with gunmen.

Just as bootlegging arose from Prohibition, so did the extortion of gay men arise from laws criminalizing queer behavior.

Over the course of the investigation, New Jersey law enforcement ruled out suspect after suspect until only Christopher Brendan Hughes’s name remained. He was the father of two small children with a common-law wife in Pennsylvania whom he hardly saw because he was busy extorting money from gay men from Baltimore to Chicago. His name was given to New Jersey state police by the FBI, after the bureau interviewed an associate of his named Thomas Rochford, aka Tommy Ryan.

The extortion ring Hughes and Rochford were in was known to police as the Chickens and the Bulls. The group’s MO was what law enforcement used to refer to as “fairy shaking,” where they would target a gay mark, then send in a “chicken” to lure the target to a hotel room. Soon after, a “bull” would bust into the room, flashing a badge and handcuffs, pretending to be a vice cop, and demand money. If the mark didn’t comply, the bull would threaten arrest, which carried the risk of being named a homosexual in the press.

The Chickens and the Bulls were an insidious success, managing to snare thousands of targets, from congressmen to military brass. It was rumored that they almost brought down Liberace, but Mr. Showmanship could afford to pay them off. Other men weren’t so lucky. They went bankrupt, got divorced, lost jobs—one Navy admiral even killed himself.

Law enforcement had long overlooked crimes against gay men, and even tacitly encouraged them. Just as bootlegging arose from Prohibition, so did the extortion of gay men arise from laws criminalizing queer behavior. But around the mid-1960s, law enforcement became interested in prosecuting the Chickens and the Bulls, in no small part because cops didn’t appreciate being impersonated by criminals. So began what the FBI referred to as Operation Homex, a coordinated effort to take down the Chickens and the Bulls.

Hughes was netted in the operation. He was a chicken—and an effective one. He was young. He was smart. He was pretty. And according to FBI files, Hughes took Harry’s ring to Chicago to fence it. The ring was later stripped of its stones. One became part of an engagement band given to the fiancée of one of the Bulls; another was placed in a tie pin for which a dirty cop held the pawn ticket.

Prosecutors couldn’t lean on other members of the Chickens and the Bulls to place Hughes at the Dunes the night of Harry’s death. Rochford was institutionalized—his lawyer said that his memory was “wiped from shock treatments.” The boss of the whole ring, Sherman Kaminsky, was in the wind. (The FBI didn’t catch him until 1978, when he was living in Denver under an assumed name and overseeing a business breeding rabbits.) Law enforcement interviewed some of Hughes’s associates from Marcus Hook, the hardscrabble Pennsylvania town where he grew up, but none of them were called to testify at trial. Instead the prosecution relied on Ronnie Lee Murray, Hughes’s old cellmate. But he ultimately refused to take the stand.

And then there was Joyce Lickfeld. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hughes looked “a good deal like the police sketch drawn of him,” the one Lickfeld made possible. But that wasn’t true. He had fair hair, blue eyes, and a slight build. “Slender and stoop-shouldered,” the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger wrote, “looking more like a high school teacher than a brawler.” It’s no wonder that when Lickfeld looked around the courtroom for Harry’s killer, she didn’t finger Hughes.

But then hadn’t the prosecution showed Lickfeld photos of Hughes during the investigation? Only one person could tell me for sure.

Joyce was afraid because the case remained unsolved. She was worried that people might come for her.

Joyce is now divorced from Kenneth and remarried, with a different last name. She’s in her eighties and lives in a ranch-style home in a small central New Jersey town. Inside, on practically every surface, are seashells.

“I just love the seashore,” she said.

It hadn’t been easy to find Joyce, and at first she wasn’t sure she wanted to talk. Eventually she said yes, and we scheduled a visit via text, which included a lot of emojis on her end. Now we sat at her dining table having coffee. She’d put out an array of muffins. With her were her sister and her son with Kenneth.

Joyce had startling blue eyes, almost turquoise, and she wore a blouse of the same color. Her hair was chestnut red. Her manner was shy, and there was something about her that felt like it needed protecting. Which is perhaps why her son and sister were there.

She told me that for years she kept a scrapbook of news clippings about the murder. She wasn’t eager to bring it out. I proceeded gingerly. Joyce was afraid because the case remained unsolved. She was worried that people might come for her. She also felt partly responsible for the mysteries that had accumulated over the previous 60 years, and also guilty that she couldn’t help Harry’s family find closure. Even though she knew none of it was really her fault. Still, “witness trouble” was what law enforcement officials had blamed the collapse of the case on, and she was keenly aware that she’d been the prosecution’s sole eyewitness.

Her recall was quite good, and the account she gave me of the murder matched the one she’d given the police, including the sound of Harry’s head hitting the road, that crack so sickening she can still hear it today.

She did add one thing that she hadn’t mentioned to investigators: As Harry walked past the convertible where she was sitting with Kenneth, he was holding hands with the other man. Why hadn’t she mentioned this to investigators? I asked. Because, she said, such things weren’t discussed back then. Instead she told police what I had read in the files, that Harry “walked like a girl.” This was, she said to me, the best she could do in 1964.

As for Christopher Brendan Hughes, yes, Joyce had seen mug shots of him in 1967, when he was indicted. And back then she thought, sure, this could be the man from the Dunes. But she never saw Hughes in person until the trial, because he’d been in prison. When she finally did, it seemed to her that he could only be the killer if he’d lost a lot of weight and dyed his hair. Ultimately, she didn’t believe he was the man she saw that night. So she pointed to the surprised sheriff in the back, who had dark skin and hair, because of all the men in the room he looked the most like the culprit.

“Would you like to see the scrapbook?” Joyce finally asked.

She picked it up off a credenza behind her and placed it between us. In it were not only newspaper clippings about the murder, but also souvenirs from her life: coasters from the bar where Kenneth proposed, postcards, dried flowers. There wasn’t one section for the murder and one for mementos—it was all mixed together, showing her life, the good and the terrible, as it happened.

Was there anything else she wanted me to know? Only that she’d met Harry’s mother and sister at the courthouse right after the trial, and they told her she could have a job at Copper Kettle if she wanted. That meant a lot to Joyce.

After our visit, I went to Harry’s grave at Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. He’s buried in a mausoleum along with his mother, though it wasn’t his initial resting place. Mrs. Anglemyer had her son disinterred at some point and commissioned the much grander resting monument for the two of them. From it you can see the house they lived in when Harry was a child.

The cemetery was ancient, in disrepair. A groundskeeper led me to the plot, explaining that Harry’s mother had paid for “perpetual care.” The mausoleum gleamed, and the grass around it was mowed, while the rest of the cemetery was gray-brown.

Tucked in the iron grate of the mausoleum’s door, through which I could see Harry’s name and that of his mother on the crypt, was a small American flag—the kind you’d wave in a parade—and a nosegay of fresh flowers. Two striking flashes of color in an otherwise monochromatic landscape.

I remarked to the groundskeeper that the flowers and the flag must have been part of “perpetual care.” But he said no. He had no idea who’d put those there.

“Are you sure they’re all dead?” Joyce had asked me about the suspects. It was a hard question to answer—the uncertainty shot through the whole story meant that there were surely names of suspects I didn’t know about. But there were plenty I did know about, based on my interviews and the investigation files. Some of them had been ruled out by law enforcement, but I wasn’t convinced—the files weren’t thorough enough for that. I started making a list: men of interest.

Longo and Stretch were on it. So were Kaminsky and Rochford. Bill Blevin, though I had serious doubts. The fudge cutter who claimed he “would get Anglemyer’s ring by Labor Day.” Arthur Marshall Brown, aka Arthur Kebabs, and Frank Ozio—the punks who rolled Harry a few weeks before he died. A Dunes bouncer named Saba “Buddy” Taweel, who looked like the sketch of the suspect and whom Lou Esposito allegedly named in his affidavit as one of the men in the marsh near the scene of the killing. Frank “Birdman” Phelan, who’d gunned down a couple in the basement of a Philadelphia restaurant. John “Chickie” Binder, a diamond-obsessed burglar who, according to an informant, had spotted Harry at the Dunes that summer and knew him to be “an important queer” he might roll. Another Dunes bouncer. A Dunes doorman. Christopher Brendan Hughes’s associates from Marcus Hook, who had rap sheets and, in interviews with police, placed themselves at the Shore the night of Harry’s death.

I couldn’t ask the Atlantic County prosecutor who worked the case—the aptly named Solomon Forman—for his opinion on any of these names. He was long dead. I assumed other key figures from the 1969 trial were gone, too. But maybe not Hughes’s attorney, whose job it had been to at least consider alternate theories of the crime. Hughes was a small-time crook who, despite his success in the Chickens and the Bulls, surely didn’t have the money for a private attorney. Which meant that he would have had a public defender. Perhaps someone precocious, eager to make a name for himself. Someone at the start of his career. Someone in his twenties in 1969 who might still be alive.

After Joyce couldn’t identify Stanford’s client in court, the only thing Atlantic County had on Hughes was Anglemyer’s ring.

“My client was innocent,” Leland Stanford III told me. Hughes was only put on trial “because of all the public pressure, because of Harry Anglemyer being so popular and well-known.”

Stanford, like Joyce, is in his eighties. Retired now, he left the Jersey Shore over a decade ago and today lives in a beach community farther down the coast. He had more to say than anyone I’d talked to, and not only about Hughes, his former client. His memory of the trial was astonishing. He attributed this to it being an indelible moment in his life, his first high-profile case, an extremely heady time.

Stanford had never seen the case files—the process of discovery back then was much more selective—so I told him what I knew. And he told me what he knew. He said that the sheriff standing in the back of the courtroom, the one Joyce had pointed to, was a buddy of his, a man named Samuel Shamy who was, incredibly, the first cousin of Dunes bouncer Saba “Buddy” Taweel. Was I once again in the land of local conspiracy? Stanford said no, Taweel’s alibi was airtight. That his cousin was in the courtroom had been merely a small-town coincidence.

What Stanford did think significant was that Shamy and his cousin were of Lebanese descent, with dark skin and hair, as Joyce and Kenneth had described the killer having. Further, both men had a unibrow, as did the suspect in the artist’s sketch. This was the first I’d heard about this detail. But when I looked closely at the sketch, I could see what Stanford was talking about: a dusting of hair above the bridge of the nose. No descriptions of Hughes mention it.

Stanford had no knowledge of the Longo and Stretch theory, nor of the name Bill Blevin. He told me to be wary of narratives built up over time. His only concern was clearing his client based on what he knew from his own pretrial investigation. And he felt certain that Hughes had not committed the crime. “The first words out of his mouth were ‘I’m innocent,’ ” he said. Hughes was a career criminal, I pointed out, and one who extorted gay men. But Hughes told Stanford that he never would have gone after Harry, that he only targeted men who didn’t want the world to know they were gay. Stanford was saying that Harry was basically too out of the closet to be extorted.

He had a point. In fact, when Harry was accused of lewd acts by Longo and the other men, he didn’t deny being gay—he only denied the specific charges against him. He didn’t have a wife to worry about, or a boss who might fire him if the truth came out. He wasn’t the kind of target the Chickens and the Bulls preferred.

Also, after Joyce couldn’t identify Stanford’s client in court, the only thing Atlantic County had on Hughes was Anglemyer’s ring. “He looked nothing like the drawing, and there was no direct evidence of any kind identifying him,” Stanford said. It wasn’t enough to prove murder. Which Stanford didn’t believe Hughes was capable of, physically or otherwise.

Did Stanford have any idea who had killed Harry Anglemyer?

He said that he did.

Could he tell me?

No, he could not.

Why?

Because the person might still be alive.

Was he afraid that this person would come after him?

No, he said. They’d be very old at this point. And the case could hardly be retried after all this time, so he wasn’t being professionally cautious.

I changed tack: Why was he convinced of the real killer’s identity?

Finally, he said: “Because of some things Christopher Hughes told me.”

When other bars closed, Hughes and his friends proceeded to the Dunes. Inside was Harry Anglemyer, diamond ring blazing.

Suspicious of lawyers, Hughes initially represented himself. Eventually Stanford came on board, and midway through the trial, Hughes trusted him enough to take him into his confidence. He admitted to Stanford that he was indeed at the Shore the night of the crime, partying with some of his boys from Marcus Hook. When other bars closed, Hughes and his friends proceeded to the Dunes. Inside was Harry Anglemyer, diamond ring blazing.

According to Hughes, it was one of the other guys from Marcus Hook who targeted Harry—a guy who looked Italian. He wasn’t known to be a member of the Chickens and the Bulls, but was extremely close to Hughes—at the very least familiar with Hughes’s line of work.

Hughes, then, may have been one of the men who came running when Harry hit the pavement, who helped the real killer stuff him in the car. Hughes admitted to Stanford that he eventually absconded with Harry’s ring, which explained why he was able to transport it to Chicago.

Hughes’s version of the story describes a crime of opportunity that happened to involve a member of the Chickens and the Bulls. While I still didn’t have the real killer’s name, I was inching closer to the truth. But one thing still rankled me: Harry had told various people that he was going to the Dunes to meet someone. Perhaps the whole thing, I pondered, was more planned than Hughes admitted to Stanford. Maybe Hughes or one of his associates identified Harry over the summer from all the press they’d been reading in connection with the lewdness charges brought by Dominick Longo, with D. Allen Stretch’s support. Maybe they arranged to meet Harry that night for what they hoped would be an easy grab-and-go robbery, only to have it end in murder.

I ran all this past Stanford, who, ever the lawyer, refused to speculate. I asked him if he’d encountered the man Hughes had identified as Harry’s killer before.

He said that he had. Several times. The man actually attended Hughes’s trial on and off—though presumably not the day Joyce testified, lest she identify him. He also showed up, unannounced, in Stanford’s office during that time. Stanford didn’t know why and sent him packing. “I wanted nothing to do with him,” he said.

Which makes it all the more notable that the day after the acquittal, Stanford received a call from this man. “He sounded like he was partying,” Stanford told me. “He just wanted to make sure, in my opinion, that he could not be charged with the murder now. I told him no, it didn’t appear he could be. He would have been charged by then if prosecutors felt they had something. The fact is, they had stopped investigating.”

Did you ever give his name to anyone else? I asked Stanford.

He said that he had. To none other than Solomon Forman, shortly after the Hughes trial.

Forman, then in his sixties, never learned how to drive, so he often got a ride to the courthouse with Stanford. It was during one of these drives that Stanford told him that they’d picked the wrong suspect to prosecute, then offered the name Hughes had provided as the real killer of Harry Anglemyer

On hearing it, Stanford said, Forman became quiet. He then admitted that he’d thought the county’s case against Hughes was lousy, and agreed that the wrong person had been tried. Furthermore, he said that he’d been assigned to the case—he was Atlantic County’s best trial attorney at the time, and after five years of the Fudge King’s murder remaining unsolved, there was considerable pressure to put the damn thing to bed.

About the name Hughes had given Stanford, Forman didn’t disagree. “You are probably correct,” he said.

But if the wrong person was indicted, I asked, why hadn’t authorities retried the case with a new suspect? Because there wasn’t enough evidence, Stanford explained. Nothing physical certainly. And because no one wanted to touch the matter at that point. Prosecutors had spent five days putting witnesses on the stand, only to end up with a drubbing acquittal in under an hour. They had lost all credibility. Without an utterly airtight case, they weren’t going to charge anyone else with Harry’s murder.

I understood that to get the suspected killer’s name from Stanford, I would need to prove that he was dead. Immediately after our call, I snail-mailed him the obituaries I’d assembled of everyone I considered to be a suspect. I would have sent them via email, but for some reason Stanford never received the other messages I sent that way. He never called me either, so after I knew the obituaries had arrived, I called him. Repeatedly. Comcast kept telling me that his cell phone was offline for “service interruptions.”

When I got through, an excruciating week later, I asked him if he was satisfied that the person he believed had killed Harry was well and truly dead.

He was, yes.

Was he now prepared to tell me his name?

He was. And he did.

The name made immediate sense. Investigators had tried to reach him as they looked into Harry’s murder, but were unable to locate him.

It was Kevin Hughes, Christopher Brendan Hughes’s younger brother.

Kevin had a longer—and more violent—rap sheet than Christopher, including a string of burglaries, two years on the lam, armed robbery, and assault and battery of a police officer. Witnesses told investigators that he was a “cop hater.” And he looked much more like the artist’s sketch of the killer than his brother did. He was taller, dark, muscled. According to Stanford, “It was like they had different parents or something.”

Although Kevin’s photograph was requested by police, there is no information that it was ever received, let alone shown to Joyce and Kenneth, or that he was ever considered a suspect. His brother was the more obvious culprit, said Stanford—the guy fencing Harry’s ring and extorting rich gay men. Kevin Hughes would live out his life without ever being implicated in the murder. He died in 2004 at Shore Memorial Hospital, the same hospital where Harry’s autopsy took place.

As I researched the Hughes brothers, a few things pulled me shockingly close to them. Things I couldn’t have imagined when my brother first told me about the Fudge King’s murder. They grew up in the same county I did—Delaware, aka Delco. They went to the same Catholic high school I briefly attended, where I, like Harry Anglemyer, was called a sissy and smacked around by tough boys like the Hugheses.

I searched my school’s online archives and found their names and class—but no photos. Some kids couldn’t afford to have their pictures taken back then. Or didn’t bother to. Or they dropped out before graduation. Kevin and Christopher Brendan Hughes’s names were accompanied by blank squares.

It’s a long shot, but maybe someday soon there will be a measure of justice for the Fudge King after all.

In the spring of 2023, I was in Philadelphia visiting my mother when I noticed a brass plaque on an old brownstone near Rittenhouse Square. It read “The Vidocq Society.” I knew this to be a consortium of private investigators, largely former law enforcement, who had banded together to help solve cold cases—most recently, Philly’s infamous “Boy in the Box” case from the 1950s. My mother, still excited by murder, wondered if we shouldn’t go in. We did, and there we met with director William Fleisher in his mahogany-paneled office, the walls filled with degrees and citations. He listened patiently to everything I’d uncovered about the death of the Fudge King.

What I told him was, of course, only a theory—hard to prove without, say, forensics. Harry’s bloody clothes or shoes, for instance. He nodded, then said he couldn’t help me. The Vidocq Society only works with police agencies, not private citizens. But he suggested I contact someone with the recently formed New Jersey State Police Cold Case Task Force. He then handed my mother his card with his cell number, in case she ever got “in trouble in the neighborhood.”

I called the task force and connected with detective Taylor Bonner. He was reluctant to look at the case, as he didn’t have any files on it, or even a file number. I had all that, of course, but after I presented it to him, there was still a bit of hesitation on his part. It was Atlantic County that had tried the case, and Bonner felt it was theirs to reopen or not. I offered Captain Snyder’s name immediately—with more than a little ta-da—and Bonner said he’d get back to me.

It took him some weeks, but he did. He had spoken with Pat Snyder—Snyder has since been promoted to chief—and after some back and forth they wanted me to know that they would work together to re-review the case. Currently, there is an Atlantic County detective assigned to it and one other high-profile cold-case murder. It’s a long shot, but maybe someday soon there will be a measure of justice for the Fudge King after all.

If this new theory turns out to be true, it will complicate the local myth surrounding Harry’s death, the one whispered and blogged about and alluded to in a hastily scribbled note from a bookstore clerk. Blogger Kelly says he’s fine with that—and continues to offer the names of people who might know more.

But Leland Stanford III, for all his help, has been impossible to reach recently, either by phone or registered mail. I even sent him a box of assorted fudge but received no reply. I can only hope that he stopped talking to me because he’s now talking to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office as it reinvestigates the case.

Whatever comes of the theory that Kevin Hughes was Harry’s killer, I’m not keen to let Longo and Stretch off the hook. Their fear and loathing of Harry—businessman, dandy, Good Samaritan, and the thing that dare not speak its name—may have set in motion a string of events that culminated in his death. Their open bigotry and defamation of Harry, both during his lifetime and after his murder, mark them as villains in my book.

It’s gratifying to feel that I may have moved the needle on an unsolved murder. Especially the murder of Harry Anglemyer, a man I came to see more vividly as time went on, as if he were emerging from a fog, bringing the past back to life—both his and mine. I am not a great believer in ghosts, but I can say that on more than one occasion these past two years I have felt his nudge. Sometimes quite forcefully. As if Harry wanted this solved, the truth finally revealed.

Harry, like all of us, was caught in the grip of time. Of the world changing, as it insists on doing, and too fast for some people’s liking. In Harry’s case, he found himself caught between midcentury notions and a more tolerant era approaching, firmly believing—perhaps naively so—that he could ride the seismic cultural shifts coalescing around him to wealth and happiness.

But history’s rhythms can be maddening. Advance, retreat. Waves against the shore. Ocean City was recently in the news for replacing several members of its school board with those endorsed by Moms for Liberty, a right-wing nonprofit that advocates for “parental rights” with regard to shaping what kids are taught about, among other things, LGBTQI issues. The featured speaker at one of its campaign rallies was pastor Gregory Quinlan, who believes Christ “defined sex.”

What would Harry make of this? I imagine he would have looked to the horizon while savoring everything as much as he could. Which is what he did in the summer of 1964, even with so much on his mind. He was by all accounts a good and charming and, yes, horny man who believed that in the end, if we’d only live and let live, have more sex, cheer on more jockeys, sing more songs while someone tickles the ivories, and buy fudge on Sundays, the future might be a much more delicious place.

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