An American Killer
Crime Spree: May 7, 1976
Patricia Columbo was an American killer who annihilated her entire family in order to gain an inheritance. An inheritance, by the way, that didn’t even exist. (Unbeknownst to “Patty” evidently, her parents had taken her out of their will years before). Along with her married, 39 year old lover, Patricia, then just 19 years old, snuck into the family home and brutally murdered her father, mother and 13 year old brother. She was eventually sentenced to 200 to 300 years in prison for the murders, 150 years for conspiracy to commit murder and an additional 50-year prison term for solicitation to commit murder. Patricia Columbo remains, as of February 2022, incarcerated at the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois.
The Columbo Family Massacre
On Thursday, May 6, 1976, around 2 pm. in the afternoon, an officer responded to a suspicious vehicle report. A maroon, 1972 Thunderbird had apparently been abandoned near 140 South Whipple in West Chicago. The car had an Elk Grove Village sticker in the front window, which had been smashed. There were no hubcaps and the ignition had been pulled out. It became obvious that the car had not been reported stolen and was quickly traced to Frank Columbo of Elk Grove Village, a suburb 20 miles northwest from Chicago. Calls were made to the residence of Frank and Mary Columbo, but to no avail.
Patricia Columbo was the first born child of Frank and Mary Columbia. She was the apple of her daddy’s eye and the center of her mother’s world.
Six years later Patty’s younger brother Michael was born. Although some would later say that Patty had always seemed loving toward her baby brother, others would speak on her obvious jealously and resentment toward the child over the attention Frank gave to his only son.
By the time Patricia was a teenager, she was very pretty and a turner of heads. Neither boy nor man could resist a second glance. She had also become a rebellious, uninhibited wild child.
Patricia dropped out of high school at sixteen. And, although she held down a job, became a thief of sorts, stealing cash and credit cards from co-workers. (Debts her father would be forced to repay and landing her on probation for years.)
The following afternoon, Friday, May 7, an officer was sent to the Columbo house to inform the couple that their car had been found in Chicago. The officer arrived at the house around 4:45 pm and was immediately suspicious at first glance. Mail and newspapers of several days had accumulated on the front stoop and the door was not only unlocked, but slightly ajar. He tapped at the door and called out to anyone who might be inside, but only received the distant sound of a dog barking from somewhere inside. Now more than a bit unnerved, the young man stepped back to his car and radioed for backup.
The officer decided to walk the perimeter of the house’s exterior while he waited on another patrol to arrive. He noted that there were no cars in the driveway or in the garage. All the other windows and doors appeared secure. Nothing immediately seemed to be amiss from the outside.
When the backup officer arrived, both men entered the Columbo residence together.
Dead For Days
The men quickly found 43 year old Frank Columbo first. He was in the living room, lying on his back, surrounded by broken glass. A bloody lampshade lay nearby. He had clearly been dead for days.
Now, with guns drawn and instincts on high alert, the officers proceeded to creep deeper into the home.
They spied 40 year old Mary Columbo next. She was lying on her back on the landing just outside the bathroom. She had a bullet wound literally right between her eyes and a one-inch gash across her throat.
The officers agreed they’d seen enough. They were obviously moving through a horrific crime scene and immediately called for an investigative unit. They would likewise need several evidence technicians. They secured the scene and waited on the investigators to arrive.
Not A Robbery
At roughly 5 p.m., Investigator Raymond Rose arrived on the scene. He first viewed the bodies of Frank and Mary Columbo. He noted that Mary still wore a rather large diamond ring on her finger and her purse, although found on the bathroom floor, appeared to have all of it’s contents about.
Rose also observed four human teeth lying between the top of the stairs and the wall.
Continuing on, the investigator came to the bedroom of 13 year old Michael Columbo. Michael was lying on his back on the floor. His head was bloodied with what appeared to be a bullet wound. His face, neck and chest were riddled with a multitude of stab wounds. A pair of gold-plated scissors with crossed blades was found on his desk and a bloody, marble-based bowling trophy was tossed down next to his body.
Investigator Raymond Rose now understood that he had a family massacre on his hands. He also realized that although this was not a home invasion or burglary attempt gone wrong, there was one thing obviously missing from this gruesome scene. That being Frank and Mary Columbo’s first born, 19 year old Patricia Columbo.
Michael A. Columbo
Michael A. Columbo was born on April 10, 1963. He was murdered, along with his parents, on the evening of May 4, 1976.
Michael was just 13 years old.
His murderer, his 19 year old sister and her 39 year old boyfriend, shot him first in the side of the head. His sister Patricia then proceeded to drag him from his bed and stab him 87 times in the neck, chest and face until he was dead.
Michael was buried next to his mother and father at the Windridge Memorial Park and Nature Sanctuary in McHenry County, Illinois, USA
The Investigation Begins
During the initial walk through of the Columbo premise, Rose noted a bloodied, crumpled magazine. Garbage had been poured onto the kitchen floor, cabinets had been opened and the phone was off the hook. The master bed was prepared for someone to slip into for the evening but obviously this was an event that had not come to pass. A buzzing alarm clock in the back ground was all that pierced the sound of death in the house.
Rose also immediately realized that the material wealth of the family seemed to be in tacked. The valuables that lay about in plain sight did not seem to have been touched at all. Television sets, stereo equipment, cameras, a .40 caliber shotgun and several rifles had been left undisturbed. There was also a wall safe that contained nearly $5,000 in cash that had not even been tampered with. The windows were secure and all but the front door remained locked tight.
Outside of the house, a nine-inch knife was found lying next to the front stoop and a steak knife was found lying near a rock garden.
Raymond sent an officer to locate the girl and get her to the station for some conversation.
The chief medical examiner performed the autopsies on the Columbo’s bodies on may 8th. Frank Columbo’s body was first. It revealed irregular lacerations from a blunt object. Rose speculated the crystal lamp or the bowling trophy found next to Michel. Frank had also been shot four times in the head and face. Four of his teeth had been knocked from his mouth. He had been stabbed.
Mary Columbo had died instantly from a single gunshot wound directly between her eyes. Her throat was slashed.
Michael too died quickly from a single gun shot fired into his head at close range. He was also bludgeoned with a heavy instrument then stabbed over 80 times in his chest and his neck.
The medical examiner noted that the stab wounds in Michael’s body were “shallow” and expressed the belief that they could possibly indicate a female had administered them.
The examiner estimated the time of deaths between 11 pm. on May 4 and 1 am. on May 5, 1976.
The Columbo’s Missing Vehicles
At the same time the autopsies were being performed on the Columbo’s bodies, the Elk Grove Village Police Department was examining Frank Columbo’s maroon Thunderbird, now impounded at the PD garage. Handprints were found on the fender and trunk of the car. The prints came from the left hand of a person who who left no impression of a left index finger.
Mary Columbo’s missing car had also been located in a parking lot about five miles from Elk Grove Village. There was no damage or theft to the vehicle and, save but a few cigarette buts and a blanket tossed in the back seat, nothing seemed to be out of place.
A resident at the condominium complex, where Mary’s car had been found, stated that when he left for work around 5:30 am. on May 5, there had been no car parked in the space next to his but when he returned home 12 hours later, the Oldsmobile was there.
Frank and Mary Columbo
Mary F. (Cheeks) Columbo was born on February 14, 1934. Frank P. Columbo was born on February 18,1933.
They were both murdered in cold blood, with malice aforethought, along with their 13 year old son, on the evening of May 4, 1976 in their own home, by their own daughter.
Their 19 year old daughter had aimed for mouths to solicit a man to kill her parents and her young brother so that she might collect on an insurance policy she thought she would be entitled to. (Little did she know she had been written out the will years earlier.)
When the man did not move fast enough to kill Frank, Mary and Michael, Patricia and her 39 year old boyfriend took matters into their own hands.
All Eyes On Patricia Columbo
Patricia Columbo arrived at the police station several hours after receiving the horrifying news that her parents and baby brother had been brutally murdered in their own home. However, she did not appear to be shocked, frightened or even remotely disturbed by the fact that she was the sole survivor of her family’s complete annihilation.
Instead, she arrived with all of the answers to all of the, as yet unasked, questions. In fact she had a lead. She explained that, unbeknownst to any, her father had deep ties with the Chicago mafia and ran a chop shop for the mob behind the auto parts store where he worked. She explained that it was probably the mob who had murdered her family and returned quickly back to the west side of Chicago. (Ironically, the ‘west side of Chicago’ was exactly where the missing cars had been discovered and was as yet a piece of information that the pubic, nor Patricia, were privy to.)
While precinct personnel realize grief manifests itself in many ways, 19 year old Patricia Columbo’s way seemed to be by dressing provocatively, flirting openly with the male police officers and dismissing the crime as if already solved.
As the detectives dutifully conducted their initial interview (and basically one sided conversation), they made mental notes of Patricia’s passive attitude, her chipper, flirtatious demeanor and well thought out tales of mafia and mob connections. ‘Information’ they would definitely follow up on but not something so convincing they would now take their eyes off the one person that was way too calm about such a horrific and terrifying event. And that now was Patricia Columbo herself.
As was the custom with any homicide investigation, detectives would be attending the triple funeral for the Columbo family. But this time things would be approached from a slightly different angle. After witnessing the way Patricia flirted openly at the precinct, with the men in uniform, detectives decided to send a handsome, young officer to attend the services that would be held on Monday, May 10th.
Patricia had brought her ‘boyfriend’, an older man by the name of Frank DeLuca, to the funeral. He appeared removed from the activities around him and sat quietly off to one side throughout the day’s itinerary. Patricia on the other hand was putting on the performance of her life. One minute she was openly flirting with the handsome young cop and the next she was verbally battling her father’s brother over cremating her family’s remains as quickly as possible, a belief the lifelong Catholic family would never have consented to.
Patricia would then go from laughing and joking over cigarettes outside the church to throwing herself weeping and wailing across the closed caskets of her dearly departed family members. If anyone was buying this odd performance, it was not the members of law enforcement that were mentally pulling Patricia Columbo straight into their crosshairs.
Patricia Columbo and Frank
Frank DeLuca was a Purdue University graduate with a pharmacy degree. He had been working at Walgreens since 1962 and had been promoted to manager by the time he met 16 year old Patricia Columbo in 1972. At that time, Frank was 36 years old, married and the father of five children. It was also well known around town that he was a ‘swinger’.
Even at such a young age, Patricia Columbo was perfectly accepting of ‘swinging’ with Frank. He finally hired her away from the diner she’d been working at and their strange sexual escapades went into high gear. Patricia was more than eager to have sex with other men or women (or Frank’s German shepherd dog) and allow Frank to photograph and make videos of such activities.
Patricia’s folks of course were completely oblivious to the illicit relationship, or the unscrupulous, sexually deviant actions of their daughter, so when she stated that she was moving out and in with her ‘boyfriend’, Frank and Mary Columbo took it in stride.
That is until they came to realize that her ‘boyfriend’ was twice her age, married with 5 children and was still living with his wife. And ultimately came to understand their daughter was carrying on an affair with this man behind the woman’s back inside her own home. They also learned he was a swinger. Needless to say, the Columbo’s were not happy with their daughter.
In the summer of 1975, after living with the Deluca’s for a year, Patricia told her father that she was done with Frank and wanted to move into her own apartment. Happy to hear that his daughter had finally come to her senses, Frank offered to help his daughter start over. Frank helped Patricia find an apartment in Lombard, a small village about 15 miles south of Elk Grove Village. He also agreed to pay the monthly rent.
Needless to say, when Frank discovered the entire scenario was a lie, and Frank DeLuca had immediately moved into the apartment with his daughter, Columbo was more than infuriated at being duped.
Marilyn DeLuca filed for divorce just about the time Frank Columbo beat the hell out of Frank Deluca in the Walgreen parking lot where he and Patricia still worked. Frank approached Patty and DeLuca, ordering DeLuca to leave his daughter alone. A violent confrontation ensued leaving Deluca bleeding and breathless on the ground as the result of two rifle butt blows that Columbo battered him with.
Patricia immediately filed a complaint and had her own father charged with assault. Frank Columbo was arrested and taken into custody. Patricia withdrew her complaint however and the matter was dropped and presumed forgotten. That however was not necessarily true – on either end.
Frank and Mary Columbo, by all appearances, disowned their only daughter, writing her out of their will and having no further contact with her. That is until the spring of 1976.
With the Deluca divorce becoming final in May, Patty and Frank said they were going to marry in June. They needed amends made with her parents and to clear the air. According to DeLuca, in a later interview, the Columbo’s finally accepted the relationship and were even going to gift them a new washer and dryer as a wedding gift.
The Investigation Intensifies
On May 12, Patricia and Frank DeLuca were both asked for their fingerprints. It was noted then that DeLuca was missing the index finger on his left hand.
On May 14, detectives spoke at length with 25-year-old Lanyon “Lannie” Mitchell.
Lannie was a car salesman who first met Patty Columbo in September of 1975. Mitchell stated that he had offered Patty money to go out with a friend of his, 34-year-old Roman Sobczynski. Patricia accepted.
In October, Mitchell and Sobczynski met up with Patty for drinks and dancing. It was during this outing that Patricia first mentioned the desire to have her parents killed. Mitchell told her he would do it for $20,000. (Lannie assured the interviewing detectives that he’d actually never had any real intention of murdering her parents, or anyone else for that matter, but he wanted to have sex with her and knew that agreeing to commit this act would get him what he wanted.)
According to Mitchell, Patty called him multiple times throughout October, wanting to know when he was going to kill her parents. Mitchell stalled her by asking for a rundown of her parents’ activities and schedules. In return, Patty provided him with floorplan drawings of the Columbo house and informing him about the material wealth in the home. Patty also gave Mitchell photographs of her family and what amounted to a dossier on their usual activities.
By November, Patty was no longer asking about a potential murder plan but instead now demanding to know a specific date and ordering the deed to be done before the Christmas holiday. Sobczynski, who was going to ‘help’ with the murder, wanted his money up front. Patricia said that the money would have to come after the insurance policy had been paid out to her following her parents death.
In the meantime, however, Patricia offered a three way sex tryst with the men to tide them over and keep them faithful to their mission. Both men accepted the deal. After all, in reality, there was never going to be any money because there was never going to be any murder and sex with Patty had always been the goal.
In early December, Mitchell accompanied Patty to the Columbo residence. Patty wanted him to check out the layout of the house. When Mary Columbo came to the door, Lannie backed out and left. Patricia caught up with him again later that same afternoon and told him that she wanted her parents killed that very night. And, she now added, her 13 year old brother would have to die too because he might figure out things later. She told Lannie she had left the patio door unlocked so that he could easily enter the house.
He did not.
Lannie says another month went by and in January Patricia reached out to inform him that she had again left the patio doors of the Columbo’s home unlocked after visiting and added that she and DeLuca were both getting anxious and wanted the deed to get done.
At this point, Lannie reminded the investigators that neither he nor Sobczynski had ever intended on committing murder and were simply, and quite successfully, stringing Patricia Columbo along for the sex.
On May 26, Roman Sobczynski was offered immunity in return for testifying against Patty and Frank DeLuca. After accepting the deal, Sobczynski corroborated everything that Lannie Mitchell had already stated.
Murder for hire had been established
The Arrest and Verdict of Patricia Columbo
Tired of waiting on her “friends’ to follow through on their deal, Patricia Columbo, then 19, and Frank DeLuca, 39, decided to take matters into their own hands and carry out the murders themselves. On May 4, 1976, they crept into the Columbo family home and shot Columbo’s parents. They then bludgeoned 13 year old Mike with a bowling trophy and stabbed him nearly 100 times with a pair of scissor.
A few days later, Patricia was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree, premeditated murder. The cops determined that Patty had originally set out to hire “hit men,” who simply strung Patty along, having sex with her and ripping her off of $2,000, while in reality had no intentions of ever murdering anyone. So, Patricia persuaded DeLuca to help her carry out the job themselves.
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Loves Blood is the story of Patricia Columbo, a teenager who annihilated her family in the hopes of gaining an inheritance. An inheritance, unbeknownst to her, that did not exist. The books dives into the causes, events and aftermath of this horrific crime.
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The jury convicted Patricia Columbo and Frank DeLuca and they were each sentenced to 200 to 300 years in prison.
As of 2020, neither Patricia nor Frank have gained parole.
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