Grocery Store Mayhem

grocery shopping cartA newspaper headline may barely scratch the surface of what really happened. Take for example the bizarre case of a grocery store double murder that recently occurred in a small southern New Jersey town.

Melvin Perkins worked as a janitor in the local elementary school. He and his wife Ann Marie fought constantly, and it didn’t help that money was tight and they were deep in debt. Perkins eventually came to the conclusion that the only way out of his situation was to get rid of Ann Marie. Divorce was out of the question, for a variety of reasons. He settled on murder as a solution, but he was smart enough to know he could not get away with doing it himself. Perkins made discrete inquiries about contract killers and eventually was directed to Arturo “Artie” Scarpa.

A meeting was arranged and Perkins poured out his miserable story. Scarpa didn’t care about the details – only the price. He told Perkins that he would do the job for $5,000. Perkins was shocked that it would cost so much, but he promised that he could pay Scarpa when the insurance company paid upon Ann Marie’s death.  Scarpa showed little sympathy or interest in this arrangement. Perkins pleaded, saying that he was not a rich man and had no savings in the bank. He even took out his wallet and showed Scarpa that he only had one dollar. Scarpa grabbed the dollar and waved it at Perkins. He told him that produce workerhe would do the job but if Perkins did not come up with the $5,000, he would be dead man as well. They then turned to the details of how the murder was to take place. Perkins explained that Ann Marie rarely left the house except to go to the grocery store early in the morning. Scarpa said that he would follow her to track her route and habits.

Scarpa observed AnnMarie’s trips to and from the grocery store and concluded that the best opportunity was in the store when hardly anyone was around. One morning, Scarpa followed Ann Marie into the store and seeing no one around he surprised Ann Marie from behind and strangled her to death in the produce department. Just as he was about to make his escape, he was confronted by the produce manager who must have seen the murder. Scarpa assaulted the man and strangled him as well. What Scarpa did not know at the time was that security cameras had captured everything on video.

And that’s the whole story behind the newspaper headline, "Artie Chokes Two For A Dollar."


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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