Giancotti, like Frank, was a partier. He not only sold cocaine, he used it. On February 7, 1989 Giancotti’s body was discovered in his car located in the parking lot of a Meijer supermarket in Rochester Hills. The cause of death was a tad messier than Frank’s perceived overdose.
Mark Giancotti left this world with the aid of a bullet to the chest. A .357 Magnum revolver was found lying next to him.
“We got a call to come out to Meijers at around 2:30 in the morning,” recollected Lieutenant Cashman in a 2010 interview. “I remember it was very cold outside and when we got there, we were directed to a car in the parking lot surrounded by several uniformed officers. Approaching the vehicle, I could see a white male, around 30-35 years old, slumped over the seat with a pistol on the floor at his feet. He was shot twice in the chest.”
It would be one thing if two employees at the same company died in the same month. Chalk it up to coincidence; a freak occurrence, if you will. But when you’re dealing with two deaths, just a few weeks apart, involving two men from the same business who both had alleged ties to organized crime, questions begin to arise.
Particularly, why would a perfectly healthy 30-year-old man with a zest for the nightlife, a burgeoning cocaine operation, and all the perks that came with such status — VIP access everywhere he went, hordes of women with loose morals always surrounding him and an endless supply of money and drugs — shoot himself in the chest? Let alone in the parking lot of a discount supermarket? It just didn’t make sense.
“The more we started to dig, the more we started to believe this death was not a suicide, but rather most likely, if not certainly, a murder,” Cashman said. “It’s very rare for men to commit suicide by shooting themselves in the chest and the gun powder residue test came back negative, which would be virtually impossible if you were shooting yourself.”
It soon became obvious that there was much more than met the eye in the untimely passings of both Giancotti and Stramaglia.
“Immediately our informants started to tell us that Giancotti’s death was connected to the death of Frank Stramaglia,” Cashman said. “These two were said to run in fast circles and each were said to be cocaine users. Stramaglia was Giancotti’s boss, but they were viewed as equals by most people. We eventually got word from the FBI that the Stramaglias and Giancotti were said to be associated with the local organized crime family. The more we looked into things, the more obvious it became that the two deaths dovetailed.”
There was no question that Giancotti’s death was the result of foul play. Test results determined the gun left behind was indeed the weapon used to kill Giancotti. Problem is, the ballistics report showed Giancotti didn’t fire the gun.
Police released a composite sketch of a man who had been seen talking to Giancotti in a 1976 Cadillac El Dorado with another man in the back seat 90 minutes before Giancotti was found in his car parked nearby. Unfortunately, for the sake of the investigation, the two men in the car were never identified. Informants would tell federal authorities in the coming months that the two men in the El Dorado were both members of the local crime syndicate.
All that was certain was that two men with ties to Four Bears were dead in a matter of two months. But why? Apparently the Detroit mob works in mysterious ways.
“The Detroit mafia is very adept at shrouding their hits in mystery, carrying things out in a way that leave more questions than answers,” said a former federal prosecutor.
Following Giancotti’s death a consulting medical examiner from neighboring Macomb County, Werner Spitz, stepped in and performed an autopsy of Frank Stramaglia. The examination bore some intriguing results
Most glaring was the fact that Stramaglia’s body was found to have 19 times the lethal dose of cocaine in his system. And even more peculiarly, the drug had been cut with cadmium, a toxic compound found in battery acid, gardening fertilizer and house paint. Cadmium is not what normal drug pushers use to cut cocaine with, however could easily be mixed with cocaine because it also is a white powder, Spitz noted in his report. He also noted that Cadmium is expensive and generally unavailable to the public.
“If I told you to go out and find me some cadmium, most people wouldn’t know where to turn,” he said.