NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Post veteran Vincent Musetto, who gained national notoriety for hsis headline, “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” has died.
Musetto died Tuesday at the age of 74 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, the Post reported. His family said he died three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the newspaper reported.
Musetto was a longtime news editor and film critic for the Post. He wrote the “headless body” headline for the newspaper’s front page on April 15, 1983, for a story about the killing of Queens bar owner Herbert Cummings.
Cummings was the owner of Herbie’s Bar, a strip club in Jamaica, Queens. A customer, Charles Dingle, was convicted of shooting holding four women hostage and raping one of the dancers while robbing the others two days before the infamous headline appeared, the newspaper reported.
Afterward, Dingle ordered the bar manager – who also worked as a mortician — to dig the bullet out of Cummings’ head so Dingle could not be linked to the murder, the newspaper reported. When that effort failed, he forced her to decapitate Cummings’ body, the newspaper reported.
Dingle was later convicted of murder, kidnapping, rape, and robbery and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the newspaper reported. He remains imprisoned despite repeated petitions for parole.
Musetto said in a 1987 interview with People magazine the killing and decapitation were known early in the reporting process but staffers had to confirm the topless dancing occurred at the bar.
“Someone said it might be a topless bar, but we weren’t sure, and then the idea of the headline came around, so we were really questioning to make sure it was a topless bar,” Musetto recalled in the interview. “We sent the reporter, this girl, and she so determined that it was a topless bar. I just wrote it, and everyone said, ‘Ha ha,’ but I didn’t think it would live in infamy.”
The Post’s editor-in-chief, Col Allan, said he will remember Musetto for his humor, warmth with colleagues and a “sharp, critical eye.”
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