Cutolo had been missing and presumed dead since 1999. On May 26, 1999, the forty-nine-year-old underworld leader told his wife Marguerite "Peggy" Cutolo that he was going to a meeting with acting boss Alphonse T. Persico in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He never returned. His death was immediately suspected when he did not show up for a weekly dinner with his crew at the Friendly Bocce Social Club in Brooklyn that evening.
Investigators noted that Cutolo's underworld rackets - including a lucrative loan sharking operation - and business interests were immediately taken over by Alphonse Persico. In 2001, Persico pleaded guilty to federal racketeering, loan-sharking and money-laundering charges. The case was built in part on Cutolo financial records found in Persico's possession.
In 2006, Persico and his top aide John DeRoss were tried in federal court for racketeering and murder. They were charged with ordering the killing of Cutolo. That case ended in mistrial, but Persico and DeRoss were retried and convicted on the charges in 2007. For that trial, Cutolo's wife emerged from the federal witness protection program to testify against them. In addition to noting that her husband was on his way to meet with Persico when he disappeared, Marguerite testified that, the day after the disappearance, John DeRoss showed up at the Cutolo home demanding all of "Wild Bill's" money and financial records.
Acting on a tip from informant Joseph "Joey Caves" Competiello, agents of the FBI's Evidence Recovery Team and police officers from Suffolk County began digging at several Farmingdale locations on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. They hoped to find the bodies of Cutolo, Richard Greaves and Carmine Gargano, all believed murdered by the leadership of the Colombo Crime Family.
They discovered the tarp-wrapped body, said to still be wearing a pair of Italian loafers, the following Monday, Oct. 6. In addition to dental records, the body was identified as Cutolo's through a distinctive physical feature - the tip of the right middle finger was missing.
Calabro recalled; "When the time came, we were sitting in the basement. [Calabro was apparently looking out a basement window at Saracino's house, expecting to see Gioeli and Cutolo walk up.] We seen one set of legs walking by, not two. I went outside to see who it was, and it was Billy Cutolo. I shook hands with him. He asked me where to go. I showed him the stairs. He walked ahead. I pulled out my gun and shot him in the head. I closed the door. I went outside. I seen Tommy. He said, 'What happened?' I said, 'It's done'"
Cutolo's body was then tied up and wrapped in the tarp and buried in what at the time was a wooded lot.
According to prosecutors, Calabro was promoted to capodecina as a reward for eliminating the Cutolo threat.
- Newman, Andy, "Reputed Colombo mob family boss pleads guilty to racketeering," New York Times, Dec. 21, 2001.
- "Mistrial is declared in mob murder case," New York Times, Nov. 4, 2006, p. B3.
- Algar, Selim, "Mob widow points finger at Persico," New York Post, Nov. 9, 2007.
- "Is a mob hitman buried in Farmingdale?" Eyewitness News, WABC-TV, New York, Oct. 1, 2008.
- "F.B.I. digs for mob bodies on L.I.," New York Times, Oct. 2, 2008, p. B6.
- "F.B.I. may have found body in search of L.I. burial site," New York Times, Oct. 7, 2008, p. 27.
- Marzulli, John, and Leo Standora, "Corpse found at Long Island mob dig may be Wild Bill Cutolo," New York Daily News, Oct. 7, 2008.
- "Body identified as missing mobster's," New York Times, Oct. 7, 2008, p. 28.
- Feuer, Alan, "Awaiting an awkward burial," New York Times, Oct. 9, 2008, p. 31.
- Wilson, Michael, and William K. Rashbaum, "11 years after officer's slaying, reputed mob figures are indicted," New York Times, Dec. 19, 2008, p. 38.
- Marzulli, John, "Former Colombo family boss indicted in 1997 murder of NYPD cop Ralph Dols," New York Daily News, Dec. 19, 2008.
- Marzulli, John, "Colombo boss Alphonse Persico sentenced to life in prison for 1999 hit," New York Daily News, Feb. 27, 2009
- "Colombo organized crime family acting boss Alphonse T. Persico and administration member John J. DeRoss sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of William 'Wild Bill' Cutolo and related witness tampering," press release of U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, Feb. 27, 2009. (LINK)
- Rashbaum, William K., "F.B.I. resumes search for mob graves," New York Times, March 9, 2009.
- Secret, Mosi, "Witness testifies how plot to kill officer was set up," New York Times, March 28, 2012, p. 22.
- MobNews blog entries for "Cutolo." (LINK)