UNLOCKED: Money, mayhem and murder: Pullar’s part in famous murder case
Bronwyn Pullar warned a close flatmate to stay away from a high-profile lawyer who eventually murdered her in a brutal love crime that rocked the US.
As 1990s roommates in Wilmington, Delaware, the New Zealander (then in her late 20s) made a big impression on her American friend Anne Marie “Annie” Fahey – whose clandestine love affair with high-powered married lawyer Thomas Capano led to the pretty 30-year old’s murder.
Ms Pullar flatted with Ms Fahey, an appointment secretary to Delaware governor Tom Carper, and her childhood friend Jackie Binnersley in Ms Binnersley’s home.
Ms Pullar, as part of a New Zealand arrangement around the time the Zespri brand was being launched, was a Delaware-based brand manager and brand director for US produce company David Oppenheimer between February 1991 and April 1996.
In her 1999 best-selling book about Ms Fahey’s murder – And Never Let Her Go– ex-cop turned crime writer Ann Rule says “Annie and Bronwyn hit it off immediately.”
“Instead of sharing a house with young women she’d met through the small ads, Anne Marie was home,” Mrs Rule – whose book was made into a television film in 2001 starring Mark Harmon as Capano and Kathyrn Morris as Ms Fahey – wrote.
Friend’s love affair made her uneasy
Uneasy about Annie’s love affair with the too-smooth Capano, Bronwyn and fellow roommate Jackie wanted to “protect Annie” from the older married man, a notorious womaniser.
Neither Bronwyn nor Jackie wanted to encourage Capano continuing to drop by their house. He made them uneasy, he was so smooth and relaxed.
They found Capano’s attempt to ingratiate himself to them “unctuous.” His lavish compliments about Jackie’s house sounded false and Bronwyn and Jackie were relieved when they didn’t see Capano for several weeks.
In March 1993, when Capano put pressure on Annie to leave her friends and be set up by him as his mistress on her own in a love nest, she refused his offer.
Annie, who “wanted so much to be loved,” wanted to stay with Bronwyn and Jackie.
Three years later Anne Marie Fahey was dead.
Annie Fahey’s clandestine love affair and her subsequent murder at the hands of Thomas Capano is an example of how Bronwyn Pullar found herself caught up in a bizarre situation – and not for the only time.
President steps in
Anorexic Ms Fahey was one of several of Capano’s lovers and was last seen alive in June 1996 when she went to dinner with him in Philadelphia.
Her disappearance prompted President Bill Clinton to call Governor Carper with an offer of Federal Bureau of Investigation help in locating the missing Ms Fahey.
Her body was packed into a cooler bin and dumped from Capano’s brother Gerry’s boat several miles off New Jersey’s Stone Harbour.
But despite being shot full of holes the cooler did not sink so Ms Fahey’s body, which was never found, was removed and wrapped in anchor chains.
Gerry Capano told police how his brother Thomas said he murdered someone who was attempting to extort him.
Capano was a member of a prominent family of Delaware real estate developers and building contractors. He became state prosecutor, Wilmington city lawyer and counsel to then governor Michael Castle.
During his subsequent murder trial in 1996, according to Delaware crime reporter Cris Barrish, the well-respected, politically connected, married father of four Capano “emerged as a sordid womaniser, a volatile man with a short fuse, and ultimately, as a brutal murderer who shot Anne Marie and recruited his brother to help dispose of her body.”
Capano, then aged 61 – and who escaped the death penalty by lethal injection – was found dead in his jail cell last September from a heart attack, contributed to by obesity.
Ms Pullar’s associates said she “flew back and forth” to the US during the murder investigation at the behest of US authorities.
Not a murder witness
But that is not the recollection of either lead investigator, former Wilmington detective Bob Donovan or Delaware lawyer Colm Connolly, who led the prosecution and secured the conviction of Thomas Capano in 1996.
Mr Connolly, now in private practice, told NBRMs Pullar was interviewed at some point in the lengthy investigation but most likely by telephone in New Zealand.
Both he and Mr Donovan said she was not a witness and was not flown to the US to be interviewed. He said she did not receive any kind of compensation – as some associates still believe.
Associates thought she got $US50,000 compensation from police for damage allegedly done during a police search of the house she shared with Ms Fahey – a claim flatly rejected by Mr Connolly and Ms Pullar.
As Mr Connolly put it: “This was a largely circumstantial murder case. We had no body and no murder weapon.”
He said investigators had to “go back a long way and piece a lot together,” including a lot of background inquiries into Ms Fahey’s relationship with Capano – which was where Ms Pullar played her part.
Typical of some of the anecdotes surrounding Ms Pullar is how some family, friends and associates confused the Fahey murder with the murder of Mary Mahoney, a former “den mother” for President Bill Clinton’s young White House interns.
Ms Mahoney was shot dead along with two other people in a Starbucks in Georgetown, Washington, in July 1997.
Associates thought Ms Pullar was caught up on the fringe of that murder.
One of the early stories surrounding Ms Mahoney’s killing was that she was an intern known as “M” who was about to go public with her story of sexual harassment at the White House.
They got the wrong woman. Eventually “M” would be identified as Monica Lewinsky.
Family and associates told NBRmany stories circulated about Ms Pullar and the impression some got was she led a double life.
“There’s the Bronny we know – then there’s this other one we know nothing about,” one said.