Real Name: Angelo Desideri
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: June 5, 1988
Date of Birth: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Single
Details: Fifty-seven-year-old Angelo Desideri was a Phoenix businessman who was a devout Catholic; he had once studied for the priesthood bud decided not to join. He had several close friends, but he never married; he lived with his parents in an affluent Phoenix suburb. He had a small fortune from owning a shopping center and an import store.
On the morning of Monday, June 6, 1988, a neighboring shop owner noticed that Angelo had not opened the import store. One of his friends drove to his home to see if anything was wrong. The friend, believing that something was wrong, had a police officer come to the home. Inside, Angelo was nowhere to be found. The house was undisturbed and it appeared that he was interrupted while preparing lunch, as food was found on the stove and in the microwave. Several bills were on the kitchen table; it appeared that he was about to pay them. In the living room, two new pairs of pants were found next to a shopping bag. A receipt in the bag showed that he had bought the pants at 12:47 pm the previous day.
His family noted that Angelo had not taken anything from the home except his attache case, some jewelry, and some money. In the garage, investigators discovered his car cover piled up on the floor; this was unusual as Angelo always neatly folded the cover when he took his car out. A neighbor told investigators that he had seen Angelo's Cadillac speed away from his home the previous evening; he did not believe that Angelo was driving, because the driver appeared taller than Angelo and he did not acknowledge the neighbor as he drove off.
At 6:30 pm on June 6, the Cadillac was found ablaze in a vacant lot in San Diego, California. An accelerant was used to set the fire. Angelo's personal items were not found in the car. Investigators found nothing in the trunk other than the jack; everything appeared to have been taken out of it. They also found no evidence of forced entry on the car.
Investigators tried to retrace the route from Phoenix to San Diego, but nobody at gas stations along the way remembered seeing Angelo. His credit cards had also not been used. Two witnesses were located that claimed to have seen the car just minutes before it was set on fire. One witness saw a man resembling Angelo in front of the car. Another witness passing by also saw the man. However, neither witness could conclusively identify Angelo or anyone else.
His family believes that Angelo had met with foul play, while police believe that he may have staged his disappearance. One investigator suspects that there is a "secret side" to Angelo that may have been the reason behind his disappearance.
Suspects: An unidentified man was seen next to Angelo's car in the vacant lot before it was set on fire the day he vanished. Police believe that this man may know what happened to him.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 1, 1989 episode.
Results: Solved. On March 16, 1989, Phoenix police charged Giuseppe "Joe" Calo with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and burglary on Angelo Desideri. Calo was a friend and business associate of Angelo's and had detailed information about his disappearance. Calo claimed that the information he had came from a man named James David Majors. Majors had worked with Calo in construction; at the time of Calo's indictment, Majors was in a California jail, charged with several murders.
According to Calo, Majors went to Angelo's home on the afternoon of his disappearance. He rang the doorbell and asked for a glass of water. He then took Angelo at gunpoint, robbed the house, forced him into the Cadillac, and drove him into the desert. Somewhere between Phoenix and San Diego, Majors allegedly shot Angelo to death and placed him in the trunk of the car. The following morning, Majors went to a hardware store and purchased a pick and shovel. He then drove down a desert back road, dug a hole in the ground next to a large tree, and placed Angelo's body in it. For unknown reasons, Majors then gave the pick and shovel to the people who lived in a nearby home. All of this information is based on statements Majors allegedly made to Calo. A diary written by Majors' wife, however, seemed to confirm some of Calo's statements.
Calo also told investigators that Majors had owned a storage locker. Police searched the locker and recovered property belonging to Angelo. These items were apparently stolen from the Desideri home. This discovery also corroborated Calo's story. Angelo's body was finally found on April 29, 1989 in the desert near Kitchen Creek, California.
According to Calo, he and Majors had been hired to murder Angelo on the orders of Romano Sbrocca, a known drug trafficker. Angelo was apparently killed because he wanted to get out of a crime ring. Calo was convicted of Angelo's murder and six other contract killings; he received life in prison and died in 2010. Majors, who was never charged with Desideri's murder, recieved the death penalty for a triple murder in California; he died on January 26, 2017. It is unknown if Sbrocca was ever charged in this case.
Interestingly, Majors has allegedly been connected to the death of Jeanne Tovrea, a Phoenix socialite whose murder was profiled on Unsolved Mysteries. However, he was never charged in that case either.
- Prescott Courier Article
- 1992 AP News Article
- 1993 Article about James Majors
- California Killer Awaiting Execution Dies of Unknown Causes