By Andy Grimm
11:23 PM EDT, July 17, 2013
A former south suburban man charged in the 2011 killing of a Steger woman hanged himself in his North Carolina jail cell Sunday, the second anniversary of the alleged murder.
Enrico Mascaro, 21, was charged with killing his friend, 18-year-old honor student Danielle Dennis-Towne, in a wooded area near Kitty Hawk, N.C. Mascaro was found dead in his cell in the Dare County Jail about 11:30 p.m., District Attorney Frank Parrish said Wednesday.
“They told me he hung himself in his cell,” said Sandra Joyce, Dennis-Towne’s grandmother. “They told me it was the same day and time that he killed my granddaughter two years ago.”
Mascaro was set to go to trial on a single count of murder in November. Prosecutors in North Carolina last week had announced they would not seek the death penalty against Mascaro.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was looking into Mascaro’s death, as the agency does whenever a jail inmate dies while in custody, Parrish said.
Mascaro was arrested in 2011 in Clifton Forge, Va., where police found Dennis-Towne’s body in the trunk of Mascaro’s 1996 Mustang. Police had been searching for him since discovering a bloody crime scene in a wooded area in Kitty Hawk, about 300 miles away. Police also recovered a gun in the woods, Parrish said. Authorities said Dennis-Towne died of a gunshot wound, according to news reports at the time.
Mascaro and Dennis-Towne were childhood friends in Steger, and Dennis-Towne was staying with Mascaro and his parents at their home in the resort town of Nags Head, N.C., about 10 miles from Kitty Hawk.
Dennis-Towne was set to start college at Ripon College in Wisconsin in fall 2011, and she was an honors student who had attained the highest rank in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Bloom Trail High School. Her parents died when she was a toddler, and she was raised by Joyce, who said she always had a strange feeling about Mascaro.
“When they first called me two years ago, I said, ‘Rico did it,’” Joyce said Wednesday. “I always knew he did it. And he knew he did it.
“I feel happy and sad. There are two young lives gone that shouldn’t be. It didn’t have to be this way, but that’s the way he wanted it.”
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