YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW ME SO LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE ABOUT MYSELF. I COME FROM A SMALL ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD. THE ITALIAN CULTURE IS BASED ON RESPECT AND I CARRY A GREAT DEAL OF RESPECT.
Phil Corbin thought of himself as a bad dude.
In fact, he seemed anything but a badass. He had a reputation for doting on his mother, for being an affectionate boyfriend and for being a gregarious fixture in Kansas City’s night life. At 26, he still lived with his parents and hit up his brother for cash. To his Italian friends, he came off as the nice one, the good kid who was always sharply dressed. He’d been arrested only once — in a beer-can-throwing altercation with a liquor store customer.
But in his mind, Corbin was the kind of guy you didn’t mess with.
It was that sense of himself — as an Italian of the old-school type, the kind you’d better not fuck with — that apparently motivated him to write a letter to a St. Joseph man named Fritz Ambrozi Jr.
Corbin may have worn neatly pressed slacks and loved his mom, but the note shows that he was also a vindictive son of a bitch.
I AM A REAL NICE GUY BUT I CAN BE A REAL MOTHER FUCKER TOO. I LOVE TO FUCK WITH PEOPLE, ASK [BECKY] … I TOLD HER NOT TO FUCK WITH ME AND SHE DID. THIS IS WHAT I CALL — BACK AT YOU.
The letter was an all-caps personal assault on Ambrozi, telling him that he soon would receive photos Corbin had made of himself having sex with his former (and Ambrozi’s current) girlfriend, Rebecca (not her real name). Corbin wrote that he would distribute the video to Ambrozi’s friends and co-workers. It was nothing personal, Corbin explained. He had just picked Ambrozi to fuck with as a way to get at Rebecca.
So maybe, considering Corbin’s predilection for conflict, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that early on the morning of July 8, 2001, as Corbin was coming home from work at about 2 a.m., someone hiding in his neighbor’s bushes stepped out and executed him with multiple gunshots.
Three years later, the murder is still unsolved. But maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, either.
Ambrozi wasn’t the only person with reason to be unhappy with Phil Corbin.
Perhaps a violent death was only inevitable for a young man who was trying so hard to live up to an image of himself as a motherfucker among men — and as the heir to his grandfather’s legacy.
Twenty-eight years ago, in the bicentennial month of July 1976, David Bonadonna’s corpse was found stuffed in the trunk of a Ford Mustang on the corner of Ninth and Olive streets. A nightclub owner in what was then known as the River Quay — today’s River Market — Bonadonna had been shot five times in the head in what looked like a mob hit. His death touched off a wave of retaliation in the entertainment district, resulting in shootings, fires and explosions that echoed across the area’s historic brick buildings.
Naturally, suspicion fell on the Cammisano brothers.
Joseph Cammisano and his brother, William, had long been rumored to be part of Kansas City’s Italian Mafia and had become rivals to the Bonadonna family. According to FBI testimony at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in 1986, “Willie the Rat,” as the press dubbed him, had risen to the top spot in the local mob.
While it was under attack in other parts of the country, the Mafia was still thriving in Kansas City in the 1970s, thanks in part to its long, robust history here and its earlier partnership with the notorious political-machine boss Tom Pendergast.
Johnny Lazia, Charles Binaggio, Nick Civella — each in turn had run Kansas City’s underworld since the 1940s, operating local scams and numbers rackets and networking with national criminal organizations, particularly in Chicago and Las Vegas.
But in the burgeoning district near the river in the 1970s, infighting threatened to tear Kansas City’s mob apart. And at the center of the struggle were the Cammisano brothers, men who would become notorious figures in the city’s history.
To young Phil Corbin, they were family.
Grandson to Joseph, grandnephew to Willie the Rat — it was the kind of family background that could weigh heavily on a young man searching for an identity.
“The River Quay, that was a case where they got greedy,” says University of Missouri-Kansas City professor emeritus of history Lawrence H. Larsen about the mob’s downfall in Kansas City. “They had a good thing going and fell out over money.”
The 1970s signified a rebirth for the rows of brick buildings surrounding the historic City Market, which was pinned between the Missouri River and the skyscrapers of downtown.
Billed as a center of family fun, the River Quay was an eclectic mix of folksy shops and restaurants. With savvy marketing, the combination drew large crowds on weekends. Meanwhile, the city was destroying the downtown party strip that had been 12th Street to make way for what is now the Marriott Hotel and Barney Allis Plaza.
Among the displaced downtown club owners was Joseph Cammisano, who saw potential in the burgeoning River Quay. Cammisano had a lower profile than his more famous brother — his daughters to this day refuse to believe that he was involved in illegal activities — but was involved in the events that led to the River Quay war. He wanted to open go-go joints in the rapidly developing scene, but Fred Bonadonna had beaten him to the punch.
Bonadonna was already operating a bar in the River Quay, Poor Freddie’s, and as president of the River Quay Merchant’s Association, he had the clout to hold up new club licenses, effectively keeping Cammisano from coming in and getting a piece of the action.
Cammisano tried to convince Bonadonna to help him with his application for a club at 223 West Third, to be called Uncle Joe’s, but Bonadonna wasn’t interested. He had a good deal and wanted to protect it. His relationship with the City Council was so tight that the $2 parking fee on a city lot in the River Quay went to Bonadonna. (The ticket stub could be redeemed for a drink at Bonadonna’s bar.)
But the link between the Cammisanos and Bonadonnas went beyond their business rivalry. Bonadonna’s father, David, also was suspected of being involved with organized crime and with Willie Cammisano in particular. According to the story the younger Bonadonna would tell in federal court, Willie Cammisano pressured the elder Bonadonna to convince his son to support Joseph Cammisano’s license.
Fred Bonadonna refused to buckle, and in July 1976, David Bonadonna was shot and stuffed into the trunk of the Mustang. Over the following months, the River Quay was the site of a pitched battle.
Most of the shootings, including David Bonadonna’s, remain unsolved, as do a number of arsons. But Joseph and William Cammisano eventually were charged with extortion. The federal indictment handed down in June 1978 outlined a series of threats that passed between the Cammisano brothers and Fred Bonadonna between June 1975 and June 1976.
Willie Cammisano pleaded guilty, but Joseph Cammisano demanded a trial, which started in August 1979. By then, Bonadonna had closed his own club and entered the Federal Witness Protection Program. That freed him to talk about the pressure he felt from both Cammisanos over their interest in bringing more bars to the River Quay. Though it wasn’t a murder trial, Bonadonna described a disturbing exchange with his father, who predicted his own murder in Willie Cammisano’s garage.
“My father told me: ‘They are going to corner me in that garage and shoot me,'” Fred Bonadonna testified. After David Bonadonna’s body was discovered, federal investigators did visit Willie Cammisano’s garage. They found that it had been recently cleaned.
The jury deliberated for a scant 20 minutes before finding Joseph Cammisano guilty. Judge William R. Collinson sentenced him to 18 months in prison.
Joseph Cammisano appealed, but he would not live to argue it. In August 1980 he had a major heart attack. He died on September 26, 1980. Six weeks later, a federal appeals court dismissed his conviction.
His grandson, Phil Corbin, was 5 years old then.
Pat Wells, Corbin’s mother, says she isn’t sure what her son thought about the mobster reputations of his grandfather and great-uncle. “I’m not saying he thought it was true,” Wells says. “I think it affected him somehow. I wouldn’t say it didn’t.”
Blond and sad-eyed, Wells works for the city’s water department. She is not the image of a Mafia princess.
She and her sister, Anita Cammisano, talk about a life with their father that sounds more like a Hallmark movie special than like scenes from The Godfather. They paint an idyllic picture of growing up: During the week, their mother, Doris, would tend bar at her husband’s joint. But on Sunday, she’d spend the day over bubbling pots, serving spaghetti and meatballs to Joseph, her seven children and whatever cousins and friends had shown up. She’d lay a pasta-covered board down the middle of the table and encourage her guests to dig in.
Their tales of Phil Corbin and his two older brothers are equally heartwarming. His death was devastating for Wells. It’s been hell living in the house where, three years ago, she heard the shots outside that killed her son.
But the more Wells seems determined to convince a Pitch reporter that the public has her family all wrong — that her dad was no mobster, that her son was a good kid with no interest in following in the footsteps of his famous great-uncle, Willie the Rat — the more it becomes clear that plenty of people wanted Wells’ angelic son dead.
Wells is convinced that Corbin’s death resulted from an argument over a business deal gone bad involving a liquor store. But it’s Wells who shows a Pitch reporter the remarkable letter that Corbin sent to humiliate Ambrozi in St. Joseph. And there were other people who may have expected to benefit from Corbin’s removal.
Phil Corbin was a busy young man.
Corbin and his two older brothers were born within three years of one another, but Phil was by far the most outgoing of the three.
“Phil was the party,” eldest brother Vince Corbin says.
Even as a young boy, Corbin always had a story to tell, could always muster a joke or recall a crazy experience that could have happened only to him.
He was an average student, first at Garfield Elementary and Northeast Junior High in the old northeast neighborhood and then at Winnetonka High School, near Worlds of Fun, after a family move.
The move didn’t seem to affect Corbin much. He could make friends anywhere. But he did have a special place in his heart for the children and grandchildren of Kansas City’s old Italian families.
“He might have been closer to the Italian circle than me and my other brother,” Vince says.
Corbin took that loyalty to an extreme. After two of his favorite relatives died in 1995 and 1998, Corbin had their names tattooed on his arm with the name Cammisano in large letters.
Tracey Burns remembers the first time she saw the tattoo, which wrapped around Corbin’s sizable biceps. She was only mildly surprised. The tattoo fit with the other peculiarities she’d seen from Corbin and his Italian friends.
“Most of the guys he hung out with were Italian,” Burns says. “It was a very different environment for me. They all seemed to know each other.”
They treated one another differently than other young men her age. They were respectful and polite. And they devoted time to their appearance. Corbin in particular was always cleanshaven, and his clothes were always pressed. He wore gold chains around his neck, paid for manicures and pedicures, and looked good even in a simple T-shirt and jeans.
“He had an image he wanted to pro-ject,” Burns says.
Burns met Corbin on July 4, 1994, when both were newly out of high school. He was introduced as “Fat Phil,” a nickname she didn’t call him.
The couple moved in together in early 1995, living with the middle Corbin brother, Mike, in a rental house across from the old Kansas City Museum on Gladstone Boulevard. But Corbin was moving a little too quickly toward marriage and children for Burns’ comfort. “At 19, you’re kind of not so much into that,” she says now. But the two remained good friends for years after they broke up.
By the late 1990s, Phil had started hanging with a hard-partying clique that had evolved from two camps — one Italian, one Mexican. The two groups initially had problems with each other before settling their differences, according to “Danny,” one member of the group who was willing to talk to the Pitch as long as his real name not be used.
The posse typically bypassed the huddled masses queued up outside Kansas City’s hottest clubs and beelined for the VIP section, trailing women behind them.
“Someone in our crew always knew somebody — the owner of the bar or the manager or whatever,” Danny says.
Corbin fit right in. “When we would go out, he was always cool, always in a good mood,” Danny says. “To me, he wasn’t like the Italians that try to be badass. But he was just … he was cool.”
Danny never heard Corbin drop the Cammisano name. He suspects he wouldn’t have known anything about the connection if he hadn’t seen Corbin’s tattoo while Corbin changed clothes at Danny’s place once.
By the summer of 2000, Corbin was in love.
Rebecca was a former pageant queen from St. Joseph with Cindy Crawford looks and enough personality to compete with Corbin’s. He thought enough of Rebecca to bring her to his mother’s. He even told Burns about her.
“That was the first girl he ever called me and said, ‘Hey, I met this girl. I can’t wait for you to meet her,'” Burns says.
But before Burns got the chance, Corbin and Rebecca broke up. Corbin told Burns and his family that Rebecca had become pregnant and then had an abortion against his wishes. “Their relationship pretty much went downhill from there,” Burns says. They broke up in January 2001.
By then, Corbin was entering into a different kind of partnership. He announced to his family that he was going to buy a liquor store at the corner of Brooklyn and Independence avenues.
Phil had always dreamed of owning his own liquor store. Even so, the choice of partner surprised his friends and family.
“I found it very strange for him to go into business with someone I’d never even heard of,” Burns says. “It really mattered to him who he did things with.”
His brother was similarly confused by the partnership with Glen Cusimano. “I didn’t know where Glen came from,” Vince Corbin says. He later found that a friend of the family knew Cusimano’s uncle.
Vince explains that it was Corbin who negotiated the purchase of the liquor store. “Phil found the place and knew the guys,” Vince says.
But Corbin couldn’t come up with his half of the $30,000 purchase price, Vince says, so Cusimano lent him the $6,500 he needed to make up the difference. According to city records, Cusimano got his own share of the money from an insurance settlement from a car he reported stolen.
But those records don’t list Corbin’s name anywhere. Wells says Corbin and Cusimano feared that their application with the city would be held up because of Corbin’s association with his grandfather, Joseph Cammisano. “He was afraid with my maiden name, it would take a long time to get the license,” she says.
Corbin and Cusimano instead decided to list Cusimano’s hairdresser girlfriend, Courtney Erps, as the owner. She applied for a liquor store license on February 5, 2001, and was approved by the city to open P&G Liquor (short for “Phil and Glen”) on March 26.
Between those dates, Corbin made a call to Rebecca.
Broken up just a few weeks, Corbin apparently either carried a strong flame for his former girlfriend or was still smarting over the abortion. Whatever the reason, Corbin had come to believe that he’d been done a great harm by Rebecca, who had started a new relationship with Fritz Ambrozi.
Corbin invited Rebecca to Kansas City for her birthday. He promised to get her a room at the Marriott. But it was to be more than just a quickie for old-time’s sake.
Corbin checked into the hotel early and wired it with a hidden camera.
Corbin was thrilled when the liquor store opened.
He took the time to know his customers by name. With the store on Independence Avenue, only a few blocks from his mother’s house, his friends and family would stop by frequently to hear his latest joke or a detailed retelling of his recent adventures in Kansas City’s club scene.
Those stories were getting more dramatic all the time. What had seemed like an eternal party began to sour as Corbin’s friends came under increased scrutiny by law enforcement.
“The cops started pulling people over routinely,” Danny says.
Danny and the boys had been scoring more than women. They’d been part of an Ecstasy and cocaine distribution network that provided fuel to Kansas City’s party scene.
“It was the rush of selling and just making real quick money,” Danny says.
Danny says he never saw Corbin dealing drugs, though he saw him take Ecstasy a few times.
Vince Corbin figures that if his brother had been selling drugs, he could have afforded to pay his share in the liquor store.
But even if Corbin hadn’t been directly involved in the business, he had knowledge of it. Corbin was there when the cell phones and pagers chirped. He’d seen and used the drugs.
Then investigators started kicking down doors. Both Vince and Cusimano heard that Corbin had been present at an apartment with some friends when federal investigators stormed in.
And Vince says Corbin told one of their friends that he expected indictments to come down either on him or a friend named Joseph Moretina.
Meanwhile, Corbin wanted to get his name on the liquor store. He offered to pay Cusimano the $6,500 he owed him and apply for a new license as part owner.
But Cusimano was having none of it.
Though they were partners, Corbin and Cusimano weren’t really working together. Cusimano manned the day shift and Corbin the night; they interacted only as they changed shifts. It wasn’t long before they were accusing each other of pocketing money from the register, Vince says.
Vince also says that a week or two before Corbin’s death, he agreed to lend his brother money to pay up his half of the store, writing a $6,500 check while Cusimano was there. But Cusimano wouldn’t take it.
“I’ll have to think about it,” Cusimano said as he walked out of the store, according to Vince.
“I looked at Phil,” Vince says. “He looked at me.”
Cusimano had already tried to buy out Corbin, offering to return the $8,500 Corbin apparently had paid, Vince says. He says Corbin told him that Cusimano had thrown a pile of cash down on the counter. “Phil told him to go fuck himself,” Vince says.
Cusimano acknowledges that Corbin was trying to raise the money to buy a share in the store, but he denies that Corbin ever put money into the store, despite what Vince and the rest of Corbin’s family say. “I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what they think. I’m not going to try to defend myself against them,” Cusimano tells the Pitch. (Cusimano sold the liquor store.)
Pat Wells remembers that as the spring of 2001 turned into summer, she began to sense that her always upbeat son was in some kind of trouble.
“Are you worried, Phillip?” she recalls asking. “He said, ‘Yeah, Mom, I am.’ He said they were kind of arguing. He was upset with Glen about something. They were getting ready to meet with an attorney.”
Corbin said something that still haunts Wells. “He said, ‘If anything happens, look at Glen.'”
Then someone knocked on Pat Wells’ door.
Wells’ niece, Angela Hernandez, answered to find four young men, who asked for Corbin. Told he wasn’t home, they asked where he might be. Corbin was behind the cash register at P&G Liquor, but Hernandez told them she didn’t know.
“Tell him his friends from St. Jo came by,” one of the men said.
Wells assumes the men wanted to talk to Corbin about his 8-minute hotel-room video.
He had told her about it, and how he had copied it enough times to mail to Rebecca and Ambrozi and members of their families. By then, Corbin was apologetic and regretful. He told Wells that he’d talked to Rebecca’s mother for 3 hours on the liquor store phone.
“I said, ‘You shouldn’t have done that,'” Wells says. (Repeated attempts by the Pitch to locate Ambrozi and Rebecca were unsuccessful.)
Wells later found a copy of the letter in Corbin’s room.
I AM WRITING THIS NOT TO HURT YOU, NOT THAT I GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU, BECAUSE I DON’T. BUT TO HURT [REBECCA]. I DON’T KNOW IF SHE TOLD YOU WE WERE TOGETHER ON FRIDAY THE WEEKEND OF HER BIRTHDAY.
Corbin explained how he had checked in early and set up the camera. He seemed pretty impressed with himself.
THIS I THINK WAS THE WISEST THING I THINK I HAVE DONE IN A WHILE … I AM GOING TO SEND YOU 1 OF 5 PICTURES I HAVE OF ME AND YOUR GIRL. I’LL BE SENDING YOU 1 EVERY MONTH FOR THE NEXT 5 MONTHS. I LIKE TO STRETCH THINGS OUT.
He then promised to send copies of the video to Ambrozi’s parents, his friends and maybe to every construction worker, roofer, plumber and electrician in St. Joseph, telling Ambrozi, “Everyone will be talking about this for a long time.”
He also assured Ambrozi that it was nothing personal.
FRITZ I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST YOU. TO BE HONEST THERE IS A COUPLE THINGS I LIKE ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE A PRETTY BIG GUY AND FROM WHAT I HEAR YOU ARE LIKE THIS BIG BAD ASS OR SOMETHING. AND THE SECOND THING IS THAT YOU OBVIOUSLY GET PUSSY AND I LIKE THAT. I LOVE PUSSY. IN FACT I LIVE FOR PUSSY. … YOU DON’T DRESS VERY WELL, THE 4 TIMES I HAVE SEEN YOU, YOU LOOK LIKE — I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO GO THERE. [REBECCA] DOES NOT HAVE A HEART OR FEELINGS BUT I BET YOU THIS WILL HURT IN EVERY SINGLE WAY POSSIBLE.
He signed it “Your friend for the next few months ……… Phil.”
The note is as chilling for its intent as it is comic in its immature language. If Corbin did think of himself as a gangster in the mold of his grandfather and great- uncle, he seemed to have an exaggerated sense of himself, perhaps culled from television and movie versions of the Italian mob. On the other hand, the sheer cruelty of the stunt and the coolness with which Corbin announces that he’s going to ruin Ambrozi’s life are palpable.
While Corbin was trying to fuck with Ambrozi, Rick W. Young of the FBI filed the first criminal complaint on June 29, 2001, that ultimately would lead to 15 people being convicted in connection with the cocaine and Ecstasy distribution ring. The names included Caesar and Vincent Vaca and several other friends of Corbin’s, including Moretina. Subsequent additions to the case included Craig Glazer, the Stanford and Sons entertainment director, who had no connection to Corbin. Eventually, 15 defendants pleaded guilty to various charges. Glazer pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine but claimed only to have bought, not sold, drugs and was sentenced to probation. Others were given prison time.
But one name was notably absent from the slate of defendants. Corbin wasn’t indicted.
Corbin’s absence implied to some that he was cooperating with the feds. The day after the initial arrests, the phone at P&G Liquor began to ring with collect calls from jail.
“[His friends] were calling all the time trying to get ahold of Phil,” Vince says. “Phil knew a lot of people. He knew a lot of things. If word got out that he was snitching, they are not going to take a chance.”
Like Vince, Cusimano wonders if the suspects in the federal investigation might have had reason to come after Corbin.
“They were afraid Phil was getting ready to tell on them,” Cusimano says. The calls from jail were becoming a nuisance. Corbin finally told Cusimano not to take the calls. “They had been calling him at the store. They were calling there damn near every day.”
Some of Corbin’s friends had lengthy criminal records. Moretina, in particular, had participated in the violent ambush of a witness who cooperated in another case. The beating at a rave near 31st Street and Gillham Road involved a metal rod and left the victim’s ankle broken in several places.
There was reason to worry, says Danny, who explains that the Vacas were not to be messed with, particularly Caesar. “He was just crazy,” Danny says. “He didn’t give a fuck. They were just wild.”
An angry business partner. A humiliated boyfriend. Irate drug dealers. Phil Corbin had stirred up a shitstorm as he went to work on his last night on Earth.
It had been a routine night at P&G Liquor. Some of Corbin’s buddies had stopped by to keep him company. Anita Cammisano swung by, too, with her friend Denise. They teased Phil about the barbecue chicken his mother was cooking as a midnight snack. It would all be eaten by the time Corbin got off at 1:30 a.m., they assured him.
Corbin actually got away long enough to snag a piece of chicken around midnight, but after a few minutes he was off again.
As Corbin was closing the store, Anita and Denise were settling down to sleep on Pat Wells’ living room couches with the television on. The two were staying at the Wells’ house on Gladstone Boulevard to help take care of the ailing Doris Cammisano, Joseph’s widow. Anita remembers Denise saying something about a noise outside her window, but they didn’t investigate.
Corbin made at least one stop on the way home, swinging through the parking lot of the Shady Lady on 12th Street to talk to a friend who was a dancer there. They didn’t talk long, and Corbin arrived at the family house at 2 a.m.
Anita was just starting to doze off when she heard the shots.
They came too fast to count, but Anita had spent enough time at the target range with her own pistol to know the rhythm of a six-shooter. “They sounded like they were right there,” Anita says, pointing to the southeast corner of the room, outside of which grow the neighbor’s bushes.
“I grabbed the phone and ran back to see if Mom was OK,” Anita says. “By the time I got back, Carl [Wells, Corbin’s stepfather] had opened the front door.”
While Anita talked to the 911 dispatcher, Carl and the three women hustled outside. “Where’s Phillip? Where’s Phillip?” Pat Wells kept asking.
“He’s not here,” they told her.
“Yes, he is. There’s his truck.”
Corbin’s Chevrolet Suburban was parked at the curb across the street. Still clutching the phone, Anita ran up and down the street. She saw a dark car with a pinstripe backing slowly out of a neighbor’s driveway. She was trying to get a look at the occupants when the car drove off.
Six more shots rang out from behind the house.
Anita remembers thinking that they were shooting at the car. She ran down the driveway and found Corbin sprawled facedown along the concrete steps that bisect the steep back yard. She rolled him over on his back and began CPR. She kept it up until emergency workers arrived. But it was clear that he was dead.
Anita recalls what looked like a cigar burn on his shirt. “I think somebody shot him in the back.” She remembers the crucifix key ring that had fallen from his hand. His slip-on sandals were found in the front-yard grass alongside fluttering money that he had dropped.
“I don’t remember there being a lot of blood,” Anita says.
At 2:30 a.m., the police activated the murder squad, and Detective Mike Hutcheson was assigned to lead the investigation. In discussions with the Pitch, Hutcheson offered few details. But he did acknowledge that there were many leads.
“We had a lot of people who saw a lot of things,” Hutcheson says.
One witness reported seeing someone walking in front of the house, though no one was seen running away. Police were able to locate the pinstriped car Anita saw. “They had nothing to do with it,” Hutcheson says. Apparently the occupants had simply chosen a coincidental time to turn around.
Anita can’t believe the suspicious car wasn’t involved. “They can tell me from now until the Eiffel Tower falls over, and I still won’t believe it,” she says.
Frustrated that the murder investigation was taking so long, Pat Wells e-mailed John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted. She even made an appearance on the show, choking out the story of Corbin’s murder in her grief. Walsh consoled her. “Today is about justice,” he said before turning to the camera to ask viewers to call with any information about the murder.
Walsh also offered the help of a criminal profiler he uses on the show. But the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department refused to let the woman look at the file.
“When I get a chance to work on it, I do work on it,” Hutcheson assured the Pitch several weeks ago. But in a phone call last week, the Pitch learned that Hutcheson is no longer working on the case.
Detective James Agnew refused to confirm that the Corbin case has been stymied, but he did make a startling admission. After acknowledging that the St. Joseph love triangle was an important part of the case, Agnew said that in the three and a half years since Corbin’s murder, the police department hasn’t interviewed Fritz Ambrozi, the boyfriend to whom Corbin sent the humiliating letter and photographs.
“I’m kind of upset with the police department,” Pat Wells says after she’s told about the department’s admission. “[Sgt. Dave] Bernard kept telling me they are never going to forget the case … [but] they told me they didn’t have the manpower.”
She says she wonders whether her father’s shadow might be keeping investigators from devoting more energy to the case. “The thought has crossed my mind. It’s crossed my mind from day one.”
Wells and her husband have put their house up for sale.
After Corbin’s death, Pat asked her sister to live with her for two months. She wouldn’t let her two other sons go downtown to talk to the police. She made the police come to them. Even three and a half years later, she still can’t be alone in the house.
“That’s the most hurt now, is for her to live day to day with Phil gone,” Vince says. “I pretty much lost my mother, too.”