Details emerge in 2011 murder of Steger teen
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com August 16, 2013 6:54PM
Sandra Joyce holds up a picture of her granddaughter, Danielle Dennis-Towne, days after her granddaughter's alleged killer was found hanged in a North Carolina prison in an apparent suicide. | Casey Toner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 19, 2013 6:04AM
The North Carolina man who allegedly murdered a Steger woman in 2011 shot her with his dad’s handgun and called her cellphone after the shooting to make it look like he was searching for her, a prosecutor said.
North Carolina chief assistant district attorney Nancy Lamb recently divulged details about the killing after the alleged murderer, Enrico Mascaro, 21, was found dead in his cell July 15 at Dare County Detention Center in Manteo, N.C.
Mascaro apparently hanged himself two years to the day after he allegedly shot Danielle Dennis-Towne in the head, killing her, police said.
“It’s done,” Lamb said of the case. “There’s nothing we can do now except hope the family finds closure despite the fact they will never get any kind of justice in the courtroom.”
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.
Mascaro’s attorney did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
Dennis-Towne and Mascaro were childhood friends who grew up together, Dennis-Towne’s family previously told the SouthtownStar. They knew each other because Mascaro’s father was the Olympia Gardens fire chief, while Dennis-Towne’s grandfather, the late Elmer Joyce, was the Steger fire chief.
Both Dennis-Towne and Mascaro attended Bloom Trial High School, and Mascaro’s family invited her to their home in North Carolina as a graduation gift. The two never had a romantic connection, and Dennis-Towne had a boyfriend.
Lamb said that Mascaro never gave a statement to police but he told mental health officials after the shooting that he was concerned Dennis-Towne had a boyfriend at home, and he thought she had cut off communication with him while she was visiting. To make sure she couldn’t reach him through the Internet, Mascaro cut off the computer modem in her room.
The night of the murder, Mascaro told his parents he was going with Dennis-Towne to see the midnight showing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” Lamb said. He told Dennis-Towne they were going to a bonfire.
Before they left his parents house, Mascaro grabbed a handgun that belonged to his father, Lamb said. He also picked up a sleeping bag, in which he eventually wrapped Danielle-Towne’s body, and a shovel, which he planned to use to dig a place to bury her, Lamb said. He put both items in the back of his Ford Mustang.
Dennis-Towne’s body was found in the trunk of Mascaro’s car 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 tracked the car to Clifton Forge through cellphone records.
With her body in the trunk, Mascaro hung out for an entire day at a coffee shop in a small town in the mountains of Virginia, Lamb said. She said she didn’t know why Mascaro drove so far away.
Mascaro’s death came about four months before his murder trial was set to begin, Lamb said. He apparently hanged himself about the same time of night he allegedly committed the murder in 2011, and he didn’t leave any kind of note explaining his final action, Lamb said.
“We’re sorry we didn’t get to bring this into the light of the courtroom,” Lamb said.