Chapter 13


Here in this Chapter, we will go over ALL the physical and circumstantial evidence (real or imaginary) against Victor Licata.     To avoid complications (conspiracy theories etc.), the psychological accusations (homicidal tendencies etc.), against him will be examined in a following chapter.

Crime Scene
[Crime Scene Do Not Cross]

In Chapter 6, we looked briefly at all the evidence (real or imaginary) used to create the illusion that Victor Licata was guilty.     Here in this chapter, we will go over (piece by piece), all of the physical evidence compiled against Victor Licata.     Hopefully (in so doing), prove to the reader just how nonsensical, if not out and out factious, the (so-called) evidence really was.     Simply put, there never was any evidence that Victor committed the crime.

But first, let the reader be FOREWARNED – there is something known as the Margaret Mead effect.

Margaret Mead was an anthropologist who became widely noted after publishing her findings on sexuality in the Samoan Islands.     However, she was also greatly criticized by other anthropologists who claimed her findings were wrong and even wishful thinking.     They in effect accused her of establishing a theory and then going out and looking for selective facts that would validate that theory.

Whether that is true or not is irrelevant, what is relevant (and what the reader should take note of), is the fact that the author has already pre-established a theory.     That Victor Licata is innocent and did NOT commit the crimes that he was accused of.     And it can also be said that he is now trying to fit the facts around this viewpoint instead of trying to look at the facts objectively.

Maybe so, but the mere fact that the author brings up this matter should indicate that some precautions have been taken to counteract this effect on his part.     In addition, one must ask, where was the objectivity on the part of Harry Anslinger and that of the Bureau of Narcotics during the Reefer Madness era?     Surely at one point they must have known the truth, --- yet where was their objectivity?     Where was their apology, their, "Oops" I made a mistake, ---sorry about that, etc.

Thus, I feel it's my place to look over the facts, not through the past lens of the Drug Police, but objectively looking at them the way a lawyer defending his client would do.     --- What would a jury of twelve members of our peers say?     Would they say that the evidence was fabricated, false and misleading etc. . . . or that it indicated that Victor was guilty?


All mentions of Victor Licata’s underwear being bloodied come from the “Tampa Times [evening paper]” and is as follows:
Oct 18, 1933 p1 – “Dream Slayer Talks In Cell”
“His underwear, which police found still on his body beneath a clean white shirt and well-pressed trousers, was sodden with blood”
But these statements are contradicted by a different newspaper.     According to the Tampa Tribune [morning newspaper]:
Oct 18, 1933 p1 - "Crazed Youth Kills Five of Family with Ax in Tampa Home"
“When arrested he wore a white shirt and grayish trousers.     There were no blood stains on them.     The officers failed to learn whether he changed clothes after the crime, but no clothing with blood marks was found. “
Additionally, the article in “Inside Detective" (July 1938), which was written with the help of one of the investigating detectives MAKES NO MENTION of any blood on Victor’s underwear.     Inaddition no mention of bloody underwear is made mentioned of anywhere in the police reports, court records, nothing.     Surely such a factor would not have gone unnoticed?  

Museum Opinion:
We believe that the “Inside Detective” version of the story should be believed.     Again, the Tampa Times Newspaper article was written in great haste to sell newspapers.     While the Detective Magazine story was written with the help of – on the scene police detectives.     Granted, the whole magazine version of the story has at this point been discredited, still logic and reason would dictate that if a lie was being told, that it would have gone the other way.     Also, (as can be seen) from the picture below, any kind of red stain, would have shown through Victor’s white shirt.     Thus, we believe that Victor’s underwear (assuming he is even wearing any) were not soiled with blood.

Picture of Victor in his White Shirt; without a spot of blood on it
[Picture was taken on Oct 17, 1933 on the day of the murders]

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: --There is no proof that Victor’s underwear was not “stained with blood.”   And if he is shown wearing a white shirt and clean pants, this means nothing.     He simply must have cleaned himself up before the police came.

Not Guilty: -- First, Victor’s underwear did NOT have blood on it and there is no physical evidence that it ever did.   But even if it did, this bit of evidence would be irrelevant.   [SCENARIO]--  Victor got home late that night – and simply went to bed.   In the morning, he got up and couldn’t hear anyone so he walked around (in his underwear) etc., got blood all over his underwear, etc.   Note the following fact:

    FACT – Blood UNDER the given conditions:   [Obtained via -- ]
      The Temperature was:
      October 16, 1933

      Max Temperature 89 °F
      Min Temperature 66 °F

      Oct 17, 1933
      Max Temperature 88 °F
      Min Temperature 70 °F
Which made it the hottest Oct 16 on record.     Next, given the humidity found in Florida, and the amount of blood spilled on the beds, it could easily have taken over 10 hours for the blood to dry.     Thus making it quite possible for Victor to have walked around in his underwear and have gotten blood on them.     But again, there simply is no evidence that his underwear physically had any blood on it.   --- Thus, not guilty.

13.2 - BLOOD ON HIS HANDS (Fingernails):
According to “Inside Detective" (July 1938) --
“I noted the yellow stains of his trembling fingers.” . . . “With an orange stick I removed the grime from beneath his soiled fingernails and sent it to the laboratory. . . . There will be blood in the dirt from under your nails, for you were saturated with it.     You killed them, Victor.     Then you changed your clothes in the bathroom.     You left the house and disposed of your clothes.     You came back toward morning and pretended to have made the discovery.”
Elsewhere in the article he wrote -- “His [the killers] hands were bloody when he touched the doorknobs.     But he smeared the prints.     I don’t believe we’ll get a trace.” . . . “and on the bed beside her lay Phillip, breathing.     A blood-stained axe lay on the floor nearby.”

Museum Opinion:
NO blood could be seen on Victor's hands or under his fingernails.     The photos of him taken that day clearly show someone wearing a white shirt with clean hands and obviously NO BLOOD of any kind.

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: -- No copy of the Lab report has been found – But if it was, it will show that he had blood on his hands.

Not Guilty: -- No copy of the Lab report exists, in all probability because it never existed.     This was just one more of W.D. Bush’s (ah) little white lies.     Had such a finding been made it surely would have been entered into the police report -- (It was not).     However, this bit of evidence (one way or the other) is irrelevant – All it will show is that Victor, got out of bed late in the afternoon, and tried to wake-up his father or other family member.     But again, there simply is no evidence that his fingernails ever had blood underneath them.


The Axe

All mentions of Victor Licata’s fingerprints being found on the Axe came from the “Tampa Times” [newspaper] and are as follows:
Oct 18, 1933 p1 – “Dream Slayer Talks In Cell”
“On the handle of the axe used in the slaying are his fingerprints.”


Oct. 18, 1933 - Editorial Section - "Stamp Out This Weed Of Flaming Murder"
“Marijuana! -- Smoke that inflames the brain.     Vapor that turns the blood to seething, boiling lava.
Witness yesterday.     A family slain.     A loved son behind bars, his finger-prints on the murder ax. “
However, the problem here might be solely one of word usage within the American English language.     For example, the metaphor; "His fingerprints are all over the weapon", might actually mean that his fingerprints were physically on the weapon OR it could simply mean that there was solid evidence that that weapon was his.     It's just a funny quirk of American English.     Thus the above expressions (both found in the Tampa Times newspaper) could be making use of the language just to say Victor did it for sure, as opposed to implying that his fingerprints were in fact ALL OVER THE MURDER weapon.

However, taking the account literally, it is contradicted by a [First Hand account] article that appeared in the July 1938 issue of “Inside Detective:”
“In the rear bedroom lay the lifeless body of Mrs. Licata.     On the bed beside her lay Phillip, breathing.     A blood-stained axe lay on the floor nearby. . . . “Sergeant Beasley turned to the axe with a hopeful eye.     A fingerprint expert, Beasley regarded the seared axe-handle as his greatest chance of striking a worth-while clue.“. . . . “I found myself praying fervently that Sergeant Beasley’s efforts with the axe would result in prints that could be compared with those of some addict in our files. . . . That axe was wiped off,” he explained, “on a bathroom towel.     Not a print.
Museum Opinion:
We believe that the “Inside Detective” version of the story should be believed.     To begin with, the Tampa Times newspaper article was written the day after the murders (without much research time) while the Detective magazine article (written years after the fact), was written in cooperation with one of the detectives assigned to the case.     Thus, there were no fingerprints found on the axe.     And yes, granted, the article seems to be a bit of fiction, logic and reason would indicate that if a lie was being told it would have gone the other way.

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: -- Whether or not his fingerprints were on the axe is irrelevant – Victor simply wiped them clean with a towel.     Thus, lack of fingerprints meant nothing.

Not Guilty: -- This bit of evidence is irrelevant – The axe was a house tool.     Naturally Victor’s fingerprints would be on it.     Thus, even if his fingerprints were found, all it would prove is that an autistic kid (in a state of shock) simply picked it up and moved it.     However, the evidence (as per eye witness accounts), indicate that the axe did NOT have his prints on it.

Additionally, other than the above sighted newspaper, NO OTHER references (Police Report, Court documents, etc.), can be found regarding the matter.

The ONLY evidence (or statements) to that effect comes from the July 1938 issue of “Inside Detective,” where the below Picture is shown, under this caption: “This jar of tobacco mixed with flakes of marihuana was found in a suspect’s bedroom – but more evidence of the murder was needed.”


However, note the “found in a suspect’s bedroom” meaning this jar was NOT found in the Licata home.     The article also goes on to say:
“ . . Through the open door, on the white tiled floor, an object had caught my eye.     I retrieved it quickly.     It was the stained butt of a cigarette.     In the bathroom waste-basket were three or four similar butts.     There was no trade name in familiar pale blue print on the cigarette paper.     At the first touch I knew the butts for what they were.     Nevertheless, I opened one of them and spilled its contents into the palm of my hand.     I recognized the dark flecks of Cuban tobacco.     But there was another substance in greater quantity than the tobacco.     This stuff was pale brown.     When I touched the particles, I found them to be dry and brittle.     It was like dried tobacco of the thin and flaky type sometimes found in English cigarettes.     – Marihuana – the drug weed of the Latins.     I examined the washbowl.     Blood was on the white porcelain.     Here the murderer had washed his hands.     Here he had paused to drag into his lungs the warping smoke from the “reefers” whose butt ends he had so carelessly tossed into the waste-basket and on the floor after snuffing out five lives. “
  Which would imply that that Marihuana was in the house – however, the quoted Detective [W.D. Bush] presents only his opinion, he has no actual proof that Marihuana was mixed in with the tobacco.     And the (speculated evidence) presented is (looking at it objectively) nonsensical at best.

Here he claims that someone (we presume he meant Victor) smoked a couple of Marihuana cigarettes AFTER THE MURDERS.     YET WAIT, wasn’t Marihuana supposed to be the creator of violence, so shouldn’t that have been before the murders?   In addition (again objectively speaking), it would seem to me that if Marihuana was being used in the house, then there must be a source of it – somewhere within the house.     Yet nothing.

Last of all, there is the fact that no known copies of any lab report exists --- which leads us to the conclusion that no such animal ever existed.     Were Marihuana actually found in the house, it most assuredly would have been looked at under a microscope by some lab technician etc.

Museum Opinion:
While no known copies of any lab report exist (assuming one was even done), be that as it may, Bush’s story just doesn’t make sense and there is no solid evidence of any Marihuana in the house.

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: -- A Detectives word is good enough -- there was Marihuana in the house.

Not Guilty: -- No real evidence was found to make such a conclusion.     In addition, the statements of the quoted detective (W.D. Bush) have been called into question.

According to the following Newspaper articles:
Tampa Times [Oct. 17, 1933 p1] [evening paper]
“Axman Kills 4 Tampans - Crazy Youth Slays Family"
“The killer was Victor Licata, 21, said to be a mara-juana addict. . . . An officer to whom he was well known, declared he was an habitual user of marajuana, a Mexican weed of the cannibis(sic) sative species.     Efforts to cure him of the use of this semi-narcotic had been without success, they said and for months he had been under the care of a local psychiatrist.”

Tampa Tribune Oct 18, 1933 p1 [morning newspaper]
“Crazed Youth Kills Five of Family with Ax in Tampa Home.”
“ Had Smoked Marijuana
-- W.D. Bush, city detective chief, said he had made an investigation prior to the crime and learned the slayer had been addicted to smoking marijuana cigarettes for more than six months.     This he said, had unbalanced his mind, at least temporarily.     A similar statement was made by Frank S. Castor; state drug and narcotic inspector, who said he had aided Bush in the investigation, and was prepared to make charges against the youth when he heard of the ax slayings.     He had also learned of several places where Licata bought the doped cigarettes. “
  From here, various editorials on the subject were then written [see chapter 5].     Additionally, evidence to this effect comes from the booklet “On the Trail of Marihuana, Weed of Madness” By Earle Rowell:
“On our tour of the states we arrived in Tampa a few months after this horrible crime took place.     The police and district attorneys' staff who worked on the case told us the entire terrible and fantastic story, and took us to the house where the crime had been enacted.     The police confided to us also that the father, who had been murdered, was by no means blameless, for he had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended.   In time, Victor sampled his own product.   Then came the quintuple murder.  Thus the father, who had sown the wind, reaped the whirlwind. “
Then there is the most damning of evidence to this effect found in the Inside Detective (July 1938) magazine article.     According to W.D. Bush (Chief Investigating Detective on the case):

During the interrogation of a Marihuana Addict in Jail --
“Why did his father get sore at him?”    I demanded.     “Cause he smoked the stuff.”   The young man’s words were like a hot knife thrusting into my brain after those hours of work and concentration.     “He used the reefers and the old man got mad.     Threatened to toss him out.”   I ordered this suspect temporarily held.     If Victor Licata was a user of marihuana, he knows others who had fallen under the vicious spell of the stuff. “

The article also states that: -- “Frank S. Caston is drug and narcotic inspector for the state of Florida.     Only a month before the bloody day in the Licata house, Frank and I had made a sortie into the realms of the reefers, confiscating supplies of the drug, placing the pitiful victims of its craving in institutions.     Our investigations had revealed much that could be of value now. “

Which explains the statements made in the Oct 18, 1933 Tampa Tribune article above.     They were simply quoting him on the subject.     HOWEVER, Victor himself ALWAYS (right on until the end) DENIED that he had ever used Marihuana.     According to the Times-Picayune (Aug 14, 1950 p16)
“ Declaring that he was identified as the “marihuana maniac” after the murders, Licata said he was judged criminally insane after his arrest and confined in the institution . . . He denied that he ever smoked marihuana.
Museum Opinion:
There is simply NO EVIDENCE to support the theory that Victor Licata ever made use of Marihuana.     A close observation of ALL the first-hand newspaper accounts, attribute possible Marihuana use to only two individuals – Chief of Detective W.D. Bush and Florida Narcotic Inspector Frank S. Caston.     Even Earle Rowell (although not giving names) implies that he also got his information from these two individuals.

AND under normal circumstances, given their badge of authority (chief of Detectives, Narcotic Inspector), these statements would be solid – End of Story.     HOWEVER, as we have already seen (Chapter 10) W.D. Bush, was a spinner of tall tales and NOT ALL OF THEM TRUE. Which is a polite way of saying something else, and here lies the problem.     Once someone (badge of authority or not), is caught lying just once about a matter, then everything else that he says on that subject is automatically subject to challenge.   ---- In other words, it is no longer our place to have to prove that he is not telling the truth, but rather the other way around.     As (we feel) we have already introduced enough evidence to prove that he did not (ah, how shall we say it), wasn’t telling it the way it was.     Thus, any statements made by him (unless they can be established by facts), can be safely disregarded.

As for Frank S. Caston statements – Nowhere does he say that Victor was a Marihuana addict, nowhere.     And while we were not there at the time, it seems obvious to us that when queried by the reporters, he simply stated that they had been conducting a Reefer investigation at the time, and probably relied on W.D. Bush for this information about Victor.

And while it is possible that Victor Licata (despite his denials) might have made use of Medical Cannabis.     Example: Victor was under the care of a psychiatrist at the time and as Cannabis was being successfully used as a treatment for mental illness at the time.     At the present time, there simply is NO EVIDENCE to support the theory that he did.

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: --Two cops said that he was a Marihuana addict, end of story.

Not Guilty: -- There is no physical evidence to indicate that Victor ever used Marihuana – for any reason.     And the statements of one of the two cops in question have been proven to have been fabricated.     And the other (by his silence) also implicates himself in the conspiracy.

Evidence to this effect comes from the booklet “On the Trail of Marihuana, The Weed of Madness” by Earle Rowell. [12A]
“On our tour of the states we arrived in Tampa a few months after this horrible crime took place.     The police and district attorneys' staff who worked on the case told us the entire terrible and fantastic story, and took us to the house where the crime had been enacted.     The police confided to us also that the father, who had been murdered, was by no means blameless, for he had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended.   In time, Victor sampled his own product.     Then came the quintuple murder.     Thus, the father, who had sown the wind, reaped the whirlwind. “
In addition there are various accounts which read as follows:
TAMPA TIMES - Oct 18, 1933 p1
“Victor, by his own story, returned to his father’s home sometime between 8 and 10 o’clock Monday night. . . . Victor himself, if he followed his customary habits was “charged to the skies” on marijuana, sodden in moonshine liquor.   For hours before he went home, he rode on somebody’s truck---a liquor truck, he said---but he refused to name his companions.”
Now recalling here that nationwide Alcohol Prohibition has just ended, but was still the law in Florida, at the time.     We can conclude that activities were taking place that were definitely ‘Against the Law’.     And (by hook or by crook), Victor’s father would have had to have known about his son's activities.     Thus, assuming that one can classify alcohol as a drug, the house Licata was indeed operating an illegal business.     However, there is still no evidence that the Licata’s were either using or pushing anything stronger than moonshine.

In addition, the reader may have already noticed something a little off with Mr. Rowell’s story:
“The police confided to us also that the father, who had been murdered, was by no means blameless, for he had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended.”
The problem here is that Victor (according to police) would have been about 21 years of age at the time.     Actually 19 or 20 by our accounts, however in any case a bit old to have been a high school student, etc.

Museum Opinion:
While it is true that illegal activities were taking place, this could be said about a lot of situations.     Example; It is (technically) against Federal Law to make use of Doctor-prescribed Medicinal Cannabis YET a lot of people (finding no alternatives) continue to make use of it anyway.

The fact (or high probability) that Victor was taking part in the moonshine business has nothing or little to do with whether he did or did not commit the murders.     It is our feeling therefore, that this factor can be safely set aside as being irrelevant

12.7 – THE DOG
That a dog had identified Victor Licata as the killer.
  All information given about the dog (who played such an important role in Victor’s arrest) came from the Inside Detective (July 1938) magazine story, and is as follows:

According to Detective W.D. Bush:
“The young German shepherd dog made no sound.     It rose on stiffened legs, and then crouched again, every hair along its neck and back rising in a ridge of hackles.     The dog’s black-tipped nose was pointed straight at the opening door.     As the murderous invader entered the dog leaped for his throat.     But the intruder was ready.     He swung the blade to meet the dog’s attack.     The axe missed the animal’s head and drove deep through the bones and tendons of one shoulder.     The brave beast fell back, blood spurting from its side.     The murderer’s foot swung out and hurled the dog a full five feet across the floor. . . . “
MUSEUM NOTE:   As there were no witnesses to the above remarks, it is obviously (and understandably) a fictionalized account.     However, let us examine what is being said; "As the murderous invader entered, the dog leaped for his throat.”   Assuming it was Victor, why would the family dog attack him?     Do family Dogs go around attacking their human owners?     And assuming (just for the sake of argument), that the Dog really hated Victor; ---weren’t the Licata parents devoted toward their son?     Thus, logic and reason would dictate that if the Dog simply didn’t like Victor and was out to get him, that Victor's parents would have gotten rid of him long ago.

Next, let us look at the next statement;  “The murderer’s foot swung out and hurled the dog a full five feet across the floor.” --- Fictionalized account or not, this part of the story is nonsensical.     A five-month-old German shepherd weighs between 40 and 50 lbs.     And while Victor was 5’ 8” tall, he only weighted 113 lbs., himself at the time.     Fat chance of him kicking that dog five feet anywhere. [13B]

In addition, such an action would have caused Victors shoes, socks, pants etc., to have become bloodied etc. . . .
“. . . . The dog, one shoulder terribly mutilated half dead from the blood-loss, followed the murderer’s trail to the sidewalk.     Crawling and pulling itself along, the courageous brute followed for a dozen yards and there collapsed.     A few minutes later the dog revived sufficiently to retrace its course and crawl beneath the front porch to lick the aching wound.

Like a phantom the slayer had come into the sleeping house at 1707 Fifth Avenue in Tampa, Florida.     And like a bloody ghoul he had gone, leaving behind five mutilated human beings and a brave dog that still whimpered beneath the porch. . . . . “

  MUSEUM NOTE:   This part of the story (while fictionalized) is also suspect, as it would imply that a trail of blood from the front bedroom -- through the hallway --- through a now open front door --- through the front lawn -- down to the sidewalk (the blood coming either from the bloodied shoes or from the dog) existed.     No evidence of such a blood trail exists.     In addition, one must ask -- How did the front door get closed?     If one assumes W.D. Bush's account (see chapter 10), it must then be presumed that the dog closed and locked the front door on his way out.

However, the story does cover this point as it goes on:
“We broke the front door to get in,” said Stewart quickly as I glanced at the shattered glass.     “But the back was open.”   “And yet the killer passed out this way,” I said, staring at the trail of Blood upon the hall floor.     “The dog,” corrected Stewart.     “The family dog has disappeared.     There’s dog hair in that blood trail. . . “
  MUSEUM NOTE:   Obviously, this part of the story (now no longer fictionalized) is false.     All other accounts, including the police report state firmly that, the officers entered through a back window and that both front and back doors had been locked.     It is our belief that W.D. Bush was just trying to cover his tracks on this detail.

The story continues . . . then goes on to tell of how they found the dog under the front porch:
“. . . . The dog,” he said.     “It’s the dog, bleeding and in terrible shape.”   We coaxed the animal out.     It dragged itself painfully and slowly towards the policeman’s outstretched hand.     It was a half-grown German shepherd.     In its right shoulder was a raw rent that laid open skin and flesh until the shattered bone was visible.

The dog allowed itself to be lifted in gentle hands.     “Get it to a veterinary,” I told the policeman.     Then as a sudden thought occurred I added, “Get him to do everything in his power to keep that dog alive.     Tell him we want that dog---living and active again.”   The policeman looked at me wonderingly for a moment, then grinned a wide Irish smile.     “I get it,” he said.     “This dog’ll know that killer. . . . . ”
  The story (again continues) . . . then turns to how Victor was taken to the Veterinary hospital to meet the Dog:
“ . . . we took him to the veterinarian’s hospital, and there a strange scene was enacted.     Victor Licata stood in the center of the veterinarian’s office.     An attendant was sent for the wounded dog.     The young man watched the door through which the dog would enter, and I saw his eyes narrow.     The muscles in his sallow jaws worked convulsively.     He seemed to brace himself for what he knew was coming.

Under the ministrations of the veterinary the dog was able to limp along on three legs, the fourth being supported by splints and bandages on the injured shoulder.     The animal paused in the doorway. . . Then slowly it crouched, its eyes fixed on the face of the marihuana fiend.

Before the attendant could tighten his grip on the leash, the dog had sprung.     In spite of its injury, forcing itself into the air with a lunge of his powerful flanks, the German shepherd leaped straight for Victor-Licata.
  MUSEUM NOTE:   We’ve talked to several (for lack of a better name) Dog-allogests, dog lovers etc., and while views vary, it is their opinion that fear is the last thing anyone wants to show a dog in that condition.     But that’s exactly what Victor did --- and that that was the reason why the dog started to act up.

Remembering that Victor was indeed said to be mentally autistic and that he was in a state of shock at the time, his fear response should not seem that unusual to us today.     You probably could have taken an individual in such a condition and shown him a rat and have obtained the same fear response.

The story goes on:
“We dragged the dog away, growling and fighting, its mouth frothing and its head turned always towards the trembling youth.

“Your father owned that dog for almost a year,” I told Victor when we were back at the jail again.     “The dog grew up from a puppy with you always around the house.     It must have known you---been friendly with you---until you turned its friendship to hatred with that axe. . . ”
Museum Opinion:
Needless to say, there are numerous problems with the above stated story (which we feel is a work of total fantasy) on the part of W.D. Bush.     However, it must be noted that he was indeed the Chief Tampa Police Detective assigned to investigate the Licata murders.     Thus, we must ask; Why tell such a big (ah) untruthful story?     The answer is already obvious to many of the readers; however, the conspiracy side of the book can wait for a future chapter.     Here it is enough to say that William D. Bush was obviously trying to cover up something.

Let us summarize the facts as we see them:
  1. First, there is no mention of a Dog made in any of the newspaper stories, nor is it mentioned in the Police Report, nor anywhere else (other than in the Inside Detective magazine story) for that matter.

  2. Oral reports that we have been able to obtain from (living friends, relatives) of the Licata Family have stated flatly that the Licata’s simply DID NOT HAVE A DOG.

  3. Next, if the above story were anywhere near true, there would have been blood all over the front porch, lawn, sidewalk, and hallway of the house.     There was not, or at least no one connected with the newspapers noticed it.

  4. According to the story, "There are dog hairs in those stains on the carpet and dog hairs in the stains through the hall to the front door"   Which is nonsensical -- granted dogs do shed hair, but NOT in those amounts described.

  5. Victor Licata only weighed 113 pounds at the time -- The idea that he would be able to kick a dog that size five feet across the floor is nonsensical.

  6. How did the front door get closed and locked?     The whole story rests on the dog somehow managing to somehow walk out of the house (which assumes an open door, yet somehow both doors were closed and locked.     One presumes that the dog himself closed the door on the way out.
Then there are other numerous details that bring great doubt to the whole dog story, such as the fact that no veterinary bill shows up on the Licata estate records, etc.     Thus, one must call into question whether a dog even existed.     But once more this begs the question;   Why go through all the trouble to make up such a story in the first place?     The answer may lie in this old crime scene photograph of the main bedroom, the one in which Mike Licata's body was found.

Crime Scene Photo
Room Sketch

According to the Tampa times [Oct. 17, 1933 p1]
On a bed in the front room they found the bodies of Michael Licata, a welter of blood.     He had apparently died with the first blow of the killer's axe.
  And according to the Tampa Tribune (Oct 18, 1933 p1)
“The body of Michael Licata, the father, apparently the first one killed, was found on the floor wedged between a bed and the wall in the front bedroom, indicating he had struggled violently.”
  Now once more, look at the crime scene photo --- DO YOU SEE A PROBLEM --- Note where the blood stains are!

Obviously, they are NOT where they are supposed to be.     If Mike Licata was found pinned between the bed and the wall, wouldn’t the blood be elsewhere?     This point would not have been lost of the actual writer of the story (Jack DeWitt) and so [AGAIN IN OUR OPINION] Detective Bush concocted the whole Dog part of the story as part of a cover up.

THUS, it is the museum's opinion that there was NO DOG; --As for the Dog picture (well, no we don’t know where it came from), but it can be assumed that Mr. Bush just got it from some archive or another.     For all we know it might just be a picture of a police dog in training etc.

Pro-Con Arguments:
Guilty: -- A Detective's word (the Chief Detective on this case) is good enough.     Plus, there is the actual picture of the Dog so he had to exist.

Not Guilty: -- True, W.D. Bush as Chief Detective does have the badge of authority, which would normally imply that we must give him the benefit of the doubt.     However, once such an individual is caught lying (even once) on the subject, then everything changes.     Badge of authority or not, --now it is up to him/them to prove that it happened.     And while there is a picture of a Dog, anyone can get a picture of a dog, it means nothing.     Why was the dog not reported on by the newspapers, in the police report, etc., but most damning of all is the fact that living peoples (familiar with the family) state that there was NO DOG.

Thus, it is our feeling that the whole story was fabricated in order to explain away the photograph taken at the crime scene.

13.8 – Victor Licata was Found at the Scene of the Crime
--- Inside a house locked from the inside

Because everyone agrees that Victor Licata was found (at the scene of the crime) inside his house when the police arrived, we will dispense with providing proof thereof.     However, --- (dua-ah!), he lived there!   And as we will see (chapter 17, contains some scenarios of what might have actually happened that night), this of-and-by-itself means nothing, but what does mean something is the fact that he was found inside a locked house.     Or was he?

Once more according to W.D. Bush’s article in Inside Detective:
“We broke the front door to get in,” said Stewart quickly as I glanced at the shattered glass.     “But the back was open.”
  However, all other accounts of the story -- including the Police Report, state that the house was locked from the inside.     This could cause a problem as it limits the number of scenarios, --- the main one being that he just got home late.     He was drunk and he just went to sleep in the fourth bedroom.     He simply didn’t notice anything until he got up late the next day.     However, it is interesting to note that Chief Detective Bush might have unwittingly given us a clue when he continued his story:
“The door was open, the front door.” The words came in a dreary monotone from the pale lips of the young man.     “I might have known something . . . . ,” His eyes, filled with understanding for one fleeting moment, suddenly clouded.     It was as if a light had been switched off behind him.     His stare thereafter was vacant.
  If this was the case, he simply would have locked the door on his way to his (the fourth) bedroom, etc.

Museum Opinion:
In all possible scenarios, Victor would have had a key to get inside.     And in almost all scenarios (as to what really happened that night) call on him to have simply gotten home (drunk) and gone straight to his bedroom, and simply slept it off.

The reports of Victor Licata wanting to borrow or somehow obtain a handgun are numerous.     The newspaper accounts are full of mentions:
Tampa Times (Oct. 17, 1933 p1)
Tried To Borrow Gun.
“Last night, it was said, Victor attempted unsuccessfully to borrow a pistol from a neighbor. . . . That the family feared for their lives was declared by relatives.     The father, they said, habitually slept with a pistol between his mattress.     Yesterday Mrs. Licata reported it missing.     Her Husband searched for it and finally discovered it in the possession of Victor.     He relieved him of its possession.     Fears that the son would take his own life had frequently been expressed by both Mr. and Mrs. Licata relatives declared.     They kept all sharp instruments hidden or under lock and key and poisons were not allowed about the house.”

Tampa Tribune (Oct 18, 1933 p1)
Tried To Get Pistol
“Between 8 and 9 o’clock yesterday morning Licata left the home officers were told.     He went to the . . . . Monte barber shop, 1709 Seventh avenue, and asked to borrow a pistol, which was refused.     The proprietor said the youth offered no explanation.     Whether he sought the pistol to end his life or to barricade himself in the home, was a point the officers could not wring from him.     He apparently returned to the home from the Monte barber shop, but his departure and return were not observed by neighbors. “
  The facts, as they were stated at the time, are as follows:
  • That the family lived in fear for their lives --

  • So much so that the father; “habitually slept with a pistol between his mattress”. [13C]

  • That Victor was determined to obtain a handgun for whatever reasons.

  • That just a few days before the murders, Victor’s father had to take a handgun away from him and hide it.     Example: The day before, Mrs. Licata reported their pistol missing.     Husband searched for it and finally discovered it and relieved Victor of its possession.

  • That the day before the murders, Victor attempted unsuccessfully to borrow a pistol from a shop owner that he knew.

Note here that the way the newspapers are phrasing their words, ---it would appear as if Victor wanted a handgun for evil intentions, AND additionally that his very own family was living in fear of him.

Museum Opinion:
Here we are actually dealing with three totally different issues (a) was the Licata Family living in Fear of Victor and (b) was Victor trying to obtain a handgun and even a third issue (c) WHY was Victor trying to obtain a handgun.

Let’s begin with what appears obvious; that Victor wanted a handgun.     This appears to be true, although it is possible that (a) the newspapers got it wrong, or (b) that the family relatives (the source of the information) simply got it wrong.     But be that as it may, it is the opinion of this museum that Victor Licata did indeed want to get his hands on a handgun.

Next, it is also our belief the Licata family was indeed living in fear at the time.     Proof of that can be found in the fact that Mike Licata (Victor’s father) was said to be sleeping with a handgun under his mattress.     BUT, here the issue is ---- Were they living in fear of Victor or in fear of something else?     And for that matter, -- what was this something else the reason why Victor wanted the handgun in the first place?     OR for that matter, What was this SOMETHING ELSE that the Licata family was in fear of?

According to the Tampa Times (Nov 2, 1933 p5):
“Victor does not appreciate his status in jail: has no idea of what is going to happen, and is not interested in the future.     He demonstrates no emotions about his status or deed, and is not interested in anything except that he occasionally calls out that they are going to come and get him.
Granted Victor was mentally autistic; granted these words might have been illusions of his mind, BUT it is of interest to note that no one was taking him seriously at the time.     It seems that everyone simply wanted to establish that it was either the Marihuana or his mental illness that was the cause of the murders.     ---- In effect, there was never an investigation into who or what this “something else” that was going to come and get him” actually was?

Now granted, the author of this book is beginning to speculate a bit, however, let’s just look at one more aspect of this case.     Here once more the question must be asked;   Why was Victor’s father said to be keeping a handgun underneath his bed mattress?     According to the news reports, Victor’s parents were “Very protective of him.”    So, are we expected to believe that the handgun was supposed to be meant as a form of protection against Victor (who only weighed 113 lbs. at the time)?     What was supposed to happen, was Mike Licata supposed to use the gun to kill his own son with it?     Logic and reason would dictate that the gun was being kept as a form of defense against the “Something Else” that Victor had been talking about in his jail cell.     --- See Chapter 17 which deals with various scenarios of what really happened that night.

Additionally, it should be pointed out that Victor was a moonshine runner, it is also quite possible that he wanted the gun to protect his cargo from attack by others (ah) involved in the trade.

As an aside; for those of you who believe in gun control.     One wonders what would have happened had Victor HAD A HANDGUN at the time of the murders.     Would he have come home so drunk?     Would he (who had been crashed out in the fourth bedroom) have awakened, taken out his gun and have saved the family?

12.10 – Evidence left out of the conversation:
Before leaving this chapter, there is yet one more subject that is worth mentioning.     And that is the evidence that simply didn’t make its way into the discussion.     The evidence was deliberately left out.

  • PHYSICAL HEALTH – The Lunacy report described Victor Licata’s health at the time simply as being “POOR”.     Which might have been an understatement.     And granted he was 5’ 8” tall, however (according to the State Hospital records) only weighed 113 lbs.   From a physical standpoint, one wonders if he could have even held an axe let alone have used it.

  • SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – This author has had to apologize on numerous occasions for remarks/comments made that later on turned out to be false.     In fact, we even have a museum policy to this effect.     If we’ve made a mistake, we apologize, make correction and move on.     Unfortunately, we seem to be a rare bird in this regard.

      In chapter 2 of this book, we went over numerous quotations attributed to the Victor Licata case.     Here let us just look at one – According to America’s first Drug Czar:
    “When officers arrived at the home they found the youth staggering about in a human, slaughterhouse.     With an ax he had killed his father, his mother, two brothers, and a sister.     He seemed to be in a daze. . . . The officers knew him ordinarily as a sane, rather quiet young man; now he was pitifully crazed.    “ ---- The American Magazine (July 1937).
    QUESTION: Given the sheer number of high-level people, who knew the truth, why didn’t even one of them speak up and tell the truth?     Why did they remain as quiet as the lambs over on this matter?     --- Proof of and by itself that (at least) a conspiracy of silence did occur.     AND here it should be noted that the author (without proof) believes that at least one of them did come forth.     AND that it cost him his life in the doing (see chapter 15).

  • THE SERIAL AXE MURDERER – Most damning of all, why didn’t anyone anywhere mention the fact that there was a serial axe murderer operating in the Tampa area at the time?     Do they not feel that that was a relevant factor?

    12.11 – Evidence and doubt:
    Here in this chapter, we have gone over all the physical evidence that we have been able to find against Victor Licata.     Hopefully we have cast some doubt into the readers mind about the quality of the evidence against him.     In the next chapter we will cover all the psychological evidence/factors that, like the physical evidence was used to frame this innocent young man.

    A copy of the booklet can be obtained on line via
    [13B]-- Various dog-alogists have looked at the picture and have stated that this is NOT a full blooded German Shepherd, but that whatever it was, it would have been around the same size and weight.
    [13C]-- Given the fact that we are dealing with a 1930's box-less spring bed (note in the crime scene photo that the mattress appears to levitating up in the air by itself).     This expression "Pistol between his mattress" is most assuredly a metaphor.     But does it matter, the idea is simple, the licata family was living in fear.



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