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Accused murderer’s apparent suicide brings some closure to victim’s grandmother

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Updated: August 20, 2013 6:42AM



Danielle Dennis-Towne was a loving teenager who “was going places to do big things,” according to her grandmother.

She wouldn’t get that chance. Instead, the former Bloom Trail High School honors student and commander of the school’s Navy Junior ROTC program was shot in the head, and her corpse was dumped in the trunk of a car.

That was a little more than two years ago, and her grandmother, Sandra Joyce, prayed every day that Dennis-Towne’s accused killer — Enrico Mascaro — would pay the ultimate price.

On Sunday, Mascaro, 21, was found dead at 11:38 p.m. in his cell at Dare County Detention Center in Manteo, N.C., after an apparent suicide, according to the Dare County (N.C.) Sheriff’s office.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m glad,” Joyce, of Steger, said Thursday. “I prayed every day he would take his life, and he did.”

Mascaro had been in custody since 2011, when he was charged with killing Dennis-Towne, 18, who was visiting him at his family’s home in Nags Head, N.C.

Joyce, who took custody of Dennis-Towne after her parents died when she was 5, described her granddaughter as the “bright, shining star of the family.” Joyce has kept the memory of Dennis-Towne alive with photos on the walls of her home, and by establishing an annual $1,000 scholarship for Bloom Trail Junior Navy ROTC students in her granddaughter’s name.

“She was the one who was going places to do big things,” Joyce said. “She was a very compassionate person and she loved everybody.”

Joyce said a jail official contacted her Monday morning to tell her Mascaro apparently had hanged himself. She said Mascaro was set to go on trial in November, and Joyce was ready to testify in the case.

“I’m glad it’s over with. It’s not the way I expected it to be,” Joyce said. “It’s a sad and bittersweet moment. It’s like we are walking around saying, ‘What do we do now?’ ”

Dennis-Towne and Mascaro were childhood friends who grew up together, Joyce said. They knew each other because Mascaro’s father was the Olympia Gardens Fire Chief, while Joyce’s husband, the late Elmer Joyce, was the Steger Fire Chief.

Both Dennis-Towne and Mascaro attended Bloom Trial High School. After her graduation in 2011, she planned to attend Ripon College in Wisconsin on scholarship. She wanted to continue her military career there.

Dennis-Towne’s body was found in the trunk of Mascaro’s Ford Mustang on July 15, 2011, in Clifton Forge, Va. She had been shot in the head, and authorities said the killing occurred in Kitty Hawk, N.C., about 300 miles from Clifton Forge. Police had tracked the car to Clifton Forge through cellphone records.

Kimmy Joyce, Dennis-Towne’s aunt, previously told the SouthtownStar that Mascaro’s parents paid for Dennis-Towne’s trip to North Carolina as a graduation gift.

Mascaro’s parents and his attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

At the time of Dennis-Towne’s death, the Mascaros said in a statement that they were grieving and could not speculate on the circumstances of her death. John Mascaro said he and his wife, Sylvia, who live in Nags Head, thought of Dennis-Towne “like a daughter.”

Sandra Joyce said she has not spoken with Mascaro’s parents since immediately after her granddaughter’s death.

“I’m sad for them because their son chose to go the coward’s way out,” she said. “As far as Danielle goes, yes, I miss her.”



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