Author’s Guest Post
The Kidnapping of Nellie DiMaggio
I’m always surfing the web or checking out news stories for odd bits of history or interesting locations to use in the Zodiac Mysteries. You just never know where you’ll find a perfect setting or plot for a murder mystery. My San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, grew up in the city’s Italian neighborhood of North Beach and was raised in her grandmother’s house on Castle Alley. So that’s how I came across this odd little story from 1917, a kidnapping in North Beach!
You might be old enough to remember Joe DiMaggio, a very famous NY Yankees baseball player. But even if you’re not, you’ve probably heard of him because he was once married to Marilyn Monroe. You know he was super famous because even I know who he was and I don’t have the slightest interest in sports or baseball.
Joe’s family came from Sicily originally and settled in North Beach at 881 Filbert Street. His dad was a fisherman and they were a large close-knit family of seven children. Long before Joe was famous, long before he played baseball, the DiMaggio family made the news when Joe’s older sister Nellie was kidnapped by an obsessed would-be suitor, Dominic Tringalli.
Nellie had had the misfortune of catching the eye of the young crab fisherman. Tringalli became absolutely obsessed with Nellie! Today we’d call it stalking, but in those days . . . well, it was a very different time.
Tringalli proposed to Nellie multiple times but she wasn’t the least bit interested. She continually turned him down. Finally, the frustrated Tringalli hired two men – strangers — to kidnap Nellie. His plan was to hold her hostage until she agreed to marry him! The men followed Nellie and her friend Edna in a car and when they saw their opportunity, jumped out and dragged Nellie into the car. Nellie bit one kidnapper’s hand and Edna was lucky enough to escape. She was left screaming for help on the sidewalk.
After restraining Nellie, one of the kidnappers got cold feet and took off. The other kidnapper drove Nellie to San Jose (today, a good 40 minute drive from San Francisco by freeway) and became furious when Tringalli only paid him $10. That kidnapper changed his mind too and headed straight for the police station. Nellie in the meantime was hysterical and in tears. She managed to find a phone and call her mother to tell her where she was. Mrs. DiMaggio and the police eventually arrived and Nellie was returned home safely. Tringalli was arrested and sent back to San Francisco with a bail amount of $1,000, quite a sum in those days. The story that ran in the papers was BOLD CAVEMAN TACTICS FAIL TO WIN PRETTY GIRL
Nellie was set to testify, but she shied away from the media and the limelight. She eventually dropped the charges with the stipulation that Tringalli never bother her again. He agreed and kept his word. Nellie was a lot kinder than I would have been!
Now, what strikes me about this story is what would happen if these events took place today? Fortunately, stalking is a crime, at least in California. Kidnapping and false imprisonment is no joke, as I’m sure Nellie would agree. But the authorities really wouldn’t need her to press charges, much less have the option of dropping the charges and Tringalli would have gone straight to the slammer (probably San Quentin), and that’s if he hadn’t been shot by police on the spot in San Jose.
So maybe this isn’t the best story I could somehow use in the Zodiac Mysteries, even though Julia is kidnapped and falsely imprisoned by an evil religious cult in The Madness of Mercury, but certainly not by a deranged suitor, and certainly not for love.
I’m always fascinated by crime stories. The headlines grab me and I have to read on. Do you like to read true crime stories? Or do you shy away from the more graphic ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
About The Madness of Mercury
The Madness of Mercury (Zodiac Mystery)
1st in Series
Publisher: Suspense Publishing (October 8, 2020)
Paperback: 268 pages
Digital ASIN: B08K3JT8P1
San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice. But when a disastrous Mercury retrograde period hits, her life and practice is turned upside down, along with that of many of her colleagues who practice in the city. San Francisco has fallen under the spell of the Prophet’s Tabernacle, a religious cult that has descended upon the city. Reverend Roy, a Mercury-ruled, silver-tongued preacher offers a message of love and charity to the less fortunate, but Julia soon learns that the Reverend’s charity doesn’t extend to anyone who stands in his way. The Reverend is waging war on sin as he perceives it, targeting psychics, Wiccans, mediums, astrologers, gays, and anyone else he considers an abomination unto the Lord.
Driven from her apartment, Julia seeks shelter with her client and friend, Dorothy. Dorothy has separated from her spouse and is caring for her two elderly aunts at their home on Telegraph Hill. Dorothy’s aunt, Evandra, appears stricken with dementia and her other aunt, Eunice, has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. When Eunice disappears, Julia’s sure that she is headed for Prophet’s Paradise, a supposedly idyllic community north of the city. Julia fears that Eunice is being misled and will be in danger. She determines to rescue Eunice and take on the Army of the Prophet.
Julia learns once more what she already knew –that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.
About Connie di Marco
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.
Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.
Social media links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/ (Connie di Marco Author)
Purchase Link – Amazon –
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