The man accused of murdering three Brooklyn store owners, Salvatore Perrone, a.k.a. "John Doe Duffel Bag," a.k.a. Uncle Leo, is—are you sitting down?—kind of a weirdo, according to neighbors. Perrone, who allegedly confessed to murdering the three men in three separate premeditated killings, was arrested last night after getting picked up Tuesday by detectives at a Bay Ridge pharmacy. A police source tells the Daily News, "I'm not a psychologist, but he seems to have mental problems. He's a little delusional." His Staten Island neighbors wholeheartedly second Officer Obvious—some presciently dubbed him the "Son of Sal."
“He used to sing opera late at night on summer nights,” neighbor Julia Marra tells the Post. “I remember him yelling Italian in the middle of the street, smoking a cigar and drinking wine with a beret.” Another tells the tabloid, "He literally sneaks in to go to sleep. He looks around and walks around his property before he goes into his house." Perrone, a divorcee who sleeps in the basement of a "creepy 'Addams Family'-like house, is also known to issue threats to neighbors to call the police, the Buildings Department, sanitation over perceived infractions.
According to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Perrone is an "independent seller of men’s and women’s apparel who called on small merchants in Brooklyn." After surveillance footage showed Perrone walking with a duffel bag near the site of last Friday's murder of Rahamatollah Vahidipour in Flatbush, investigators received tips from other store owners who recognized Perrone. He voluntarily accompanied detectives to the 67th Precinct station house for questioning, and a police source tells the News, "When he came in he signed the Miranda, (saying) ‘I'll talk to you, I want to talk to you. He thought he’d outsmart us, but he wasn't arrogant — just very level, no emotion. At one point he actually said, 'I'll be out of here in the morning.'"
Kelly told reporters last night, "Detectives obtained a warrant to search Perrone’s duffel bag, which was found at his girlfriend’s apartment. It was the same bag that Perrone was seen carrying in videotaped images of him in the vicinity of the most recent homicide. When crime scene detectives searched the bag early this morning, they found the carbine with a sawed-off stock, and a combination laser/flashlight attached to its barrel with duct tape and two, thick pink rubber bands.
"It had a single live round in the chamber. They also recovered a box of 22-caliber long-rifle ammunition, an empty magazine, and a 12-inch kitchen knife with dried blood on it. Detectives also found two Buck folding knives, each with seven-inch blades." Ballistics tests showed that shell casings found at the crime scenes matched the rifle.
Police sources say Perrone confessed to two of the murders only after interrogators pretended to be from the CIA. A source tells the Post, "He says he worked for the FBI and CIA. He was leery talking to the NYPD. He wouldn’t talk to anyone but the CIA or FBI. They brought in someone claiming to be a CIA agent [and Perrone confessed]. The guy is crazy."
Perrone's alleged motive remains unclear and he has not been charged with hate crimes, although all his victims were of Middle Eastern descent and NYPD sources told the Staten Island Advance that Perrone claimed he was trying to "promote world peace." His court-appointed attorney denies that his client confessed but concedes, "He does seem that he could have some mental-health issues." Mohamed Gebeli, the son of Perrone's first alleged victim, tells the Post, "He’s lucky that the cops got to him before I did. If I got my hands on him before they did, there would be four dead bodies, not three."