Sometimes you don’t get answers to life’s questions, no matter how many times you ask. That is not what the Tinyes family wants to believe. Somewhere out there are the answers to all of the questions surrounding the brutal murder of daughter and sister Kelly Ann Tinyes. Twenty years ago this week, Kelly went missing from her seemingly perfect suburban block in Valley Stream one afternoon, and turned up dead in a neighbor’s house the next morning. The day before her 14th birthday.
The murder became a landmark case in New York State as the first to see DNA used to win a murder conviction and became nationally known when the trial of 22-year-old Robert Golub was televised on the young cable network Court TV. Local media outlets covered the story with ravenous energy. It had everything. The shocking killing of a sweet young girl by a brooding male neighbor. A suburban street ripped apart. Brutal fights between the parents of the murdered girl and the accused killer.
“Nothing was ever the same,” says Jackie DeLuca, who grew up across the street from the Tinyes family. “After all of this, just going outside to play was not simple anymore.”
In the end, Robert Golub was found guilty of First Degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Former Nassau County Prosecutor Dan Cotter won the case against Golub. But there was something else bubbling under the surface, and despite the victory against Golub’s defense, the Tinyes family always wondered why former Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon did not seek a case against Golub’s younger brother John Jay. He was in the house that afternoon. That much is certain. He was also with two other young boys. That is a fact, too.
The biggest question, though, is why did Kelly Ann go to the Golub house?
John Jay Golub said he never saw her that day. So did Robert. So did Glen McMahon and Steve Bataan, John’s two friends who were upstairs in the house smoking weed. And now, two decades later, the Tinyes family and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice have one question: Who made the call that sent Kelly into the hands of her killer—or killers?
If Rice finds out, that person could be charged with murder, since the statutes for all other related crimes have expired. And maybe it is not a stretch to think that a jury would respond well to such charges, given the ferocity of Kelly’s murder and the evidence that would need to be produced for the case to have a real shot. To produce that kind of evidence, a mountain of files would be climbed and then another mountain made by newly acquired information. In the end, it would look like a scale model of the Rockies, comprised of accordion folders. The answer is there, somewhere.
Richard Tinyes, his wife Vicky and son Richard Jr. have told the story before. “Thousands of times,” says young Richie, himself now married with one child and another due any day. He has come to the family home on Horton Road on March 3, 2009, the 20th anniversary of Kelly’s disappearance. The family is expecting a deluge of media attention since it was revealed that DA Rice has been looking into the case. Although the headlines would have readers and viewers believe that Rice was kicking open the doors on the 20th anniversary itself, it was old news in the DA’s office—where the case has been active for about three years.
“Within a few weeks of me being sworn [in Jan., 2006], I was contacted by the Tinyes family and asked to fully explore if justice was really done,” says Rice.
Tinyes, Sr. sits at his kitchen table, a legal pad at the ready with notes scribbled on several pages. At times, two telephones are ringing at once as he tries to answer the media’s questions. ABC is calling. Dateline NBC is on the line. WBAB calls. He gives them all the time he needs to get out the most important fact of the day: Rice’s office has established a hotline (516-870-2813) for tips about the case. He gives the same answers over and over, and recounts the pain of his family time and again, but is sure to say the hotline number. Tinyes has a bit of media savvy at this point, and he successfully juggles the multiple calls and queries well. As long as he gets the number out there, he seems happy.
On the table a picture of his murdered daughter stares up from the cover of a newspaper. In the corner a news station plays on a TV, its sound muted. Occasionally, a picture of the outside of the Golub house pops up, and then a picture of Kelly, and then a picture of Robert. Like a nightmare on an endless loop, the Tinyes’ live it every day. But today is worse. With the news of the investigation being opened, the 20th anniversary of the murder upon them and Kelly’s March 5 birthday this week, there is a lot to deal with.
“I have so much anger, the only thing to do is try to get her justice,” says Tinyes.
He wants to know who called Kelly that day. And he wants to know who opened the door. To get those answers, he cannot waver. “I have to be relentless. I have always been relentless. We won’t stop until we have the answers.”
By now, the stories of the Golub and Tinyes families feuding in the streets since Kelly’s body was found in a closet in their basement on March 4, 1989, are legend. Tinyes says there have been well over 100 incidents. Neighbors say the block has been torn apart.
“This used to be a wide-open block. We had block parties and everything. Not since then,” says one neighbor who asked for anonymity. Although he supports the Tinyes family, as do many others, there are some neighbors who wish that Rich and Vicky Tinyes would stop drawing attention to the murder. The Golubs have never moved from their home, where the bloody, mutilated body of the 14-year-old girl was discovered. John Golub Sr. refused to comment at his house, and his wife Elizabeth declined a phone interview.
With so much emotion in the air, Rice was facing a tough decision. After all, someone is in jail already for the crime. Sometimes a family cannot let go, says Rice. She has seen it in her career as both a prosecutor and as DA. Maybe Richie was the kind of father who would never let go, no matter what any investigation or trial found. However, when she met the Tinyes family she felt that they had legitimate reasons for coming to her office, at least in the personal sense. Legally, says Rice, the work would have to be done before she made a decision. Rice told her office to go ahead and look into the case.
So Charles Ribando, chief investigator of the Investigations Bureau assembled his team and began to look into the possibility that someone else was involved in the murder of Kelly Ann Tinyes. Working closely with Nassau County Police Department detectives, Ribando began an investigation that would include thousands of personnel hours, the testimony of dozens of people, travel to at least five states and importing someone from the Midwest.
“It takes a lot of work to do this on a 20-year-old case,” says Ribando, a tough-talking former detective and member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the NYPD. But Ribando has seen it all before. He knows that in 20 years, there is a good chance someone said something to someone, somewhere, that would give them the answers they needed.
About one year ago, as detectives began questioning his friends and family, John Jay Golub, who now lives in New Jersey and is a restaurant manager, hired Farmingdale-based criminal defense attorney John Lewis. To Lewis, it had quickly become apparent that the detectives still had a lot of questions about his client’s comings and goings the day of the murder.
“After they spoke to his ex-girlfriend and then a friend of his who is his ex-roommate, he knew he needed counsel,” says Lewis.
Consequently, Golub has never spoken to the DA’s office this time around. Through Lewis, he has denied to be interviewed. One source in Rice’s office says that Lewis demanded immunity for Golub to speak.
“Why does he need to talk about things he spoke about 20 years ago?” says Lewis. “Nothing good could come of it for my client.”
Who Made the Call?
Steve Bataan and Glen McMahon told authorities they were not even that friendly with John Jay, but decided to take him up on his offer to take the bus home from school to his house to smoke pot on March 3, 1989, when they were 14 years old, Kelly Ann’s age. When they arrived at the Golub house, John’s then 21-year-old brother, Robert, was there, going through the mail. John asked if anything was for him. He was always on the lookout for cut slips sent home from the school. There was something, and Robert gave it to him.
Being inside of the Golub house might have been shocking to McMahon and Bataan, unless they were used to living the way the Golubs did. A videotape tour of the house made on March 7, 1989, by the NCPD reveals a home in disgraceful disarray, seemingly abandoned. As soon as someone walked through the front door into the living room, they were confronted by mountains of clothing and trash all about the room. The kitchen counters are full of dishes, as is the sink. The master bedroom does not look fit for slumber, and the master bathroom looks unusable, especially the bathtub which was filled with clothes piled higher than the tub’s walls.
As the camera moves upstairs, there is a room obviously inhabited by a young man. A barbell sits on a filthy floor. A crossbow hangs from the ceiling. The walls are adorned with posters of famous female pinups of the time, like Heather Thomas and Heather Locklear. This is Robert’s room, and from here music played as John, McMahon and Bataan went to a pink room, vacated by the oldest sister who had moved out. The room is in similar condition, with clothing and trash littering the floors and spilling from the closet. A bed on one side is covered with refuse, as is a mattress on the floor that the boys allegedly sat on after John got a joint and lit it up.
According to the statements of both Bataan and McMahon, John did leave the room, allegedly three times. Lewis points out that even though his client did leave, “It was only for moments at a time.”
It was during one of these moments that a phone call was made to the Tinyes house and Richie Jr. answered the phone.
That afternoon, Kelly was supposed to be keeping an eye on her younger brother. Eight years old at the time, Richie took a phone call at 2:51 p.m. that he says was John Jay’s voice that simply said, “It’s John. Get Kelly.”
Like most teenage daughters, Kelly must have had a little rebellion in her because she went to the Golubs, but first lied to her brother and said she was going to her friend Nicole’s house, which is next to the Golubs at 81 Horton Rd. She lied because she knew her parents would not approve. She was not allowed to associate with John Jay. Several sources interviewed by the Press said that the Golub house was that one in the neighborhood nobody wanted their kids to go to. It was dirty, they say, and John Jay was the neighborhood bully.
One source said that John wanted to be called “The Great One.”
“He had no problem beating up a little kid, even if they were younger,” said one neighbor. “He would tie kids up, scare them, give them Indian burns, everything.”
Another source said that when John Jay came down the block, the kids would head inside, or into the backyard. But another source said that John Jay had a soft spot for Kelly Ann, and she could get him to act nice. That same source also said that John and Kelly did have a close relationship, but nothing over the top.
Jimmy Walsh, who was 6 at the time, claimed he saw John Jay open the door for Kelly after she came over to his house. “Then I see Kelly walking down the street. I know her all my life,” Walsh said in his statement to police, under the supervision of his parents. “[She went] up to John Jay’s house and ring [sic] the doorbell. John opened the door. I know John Jay Golub from living on this street. Sometimes, he plays rough with me.” Walsh could not be reached for this story.
Lewis says that Walsh’s statement was never considered in court because detectives ruled that because of Walsh’s position on the block, “There was no way he could have seen who opened the door.”
Another neighbor, Kelly’s friend Donna Callahan, saw her go in to the Golubs’ house alive and well. But from Donna’s vantage point, all she saw was an arm and the door, and Kelly going into the house. That was the last time anyone outside of the Golub house ever saw Kelly Ann alive again.
The Tinyes family came to the Golubs later that day and asked them if Kelly was there. Robert was asleep when they arrived, and John and his mother denied Kelly being in the house. A call was placed to the police to file a missing persons report.
The original report says that Kelly may have disappeared on her own accord: “Parent indicates that missing person confided to girlfriend Amy List that she was running away.”
“That’s what some of the kids had told us,” says Rich Tinyes, remembering the day.
The next morning Elizabeth—who, according to Tinyes, was known to wear the same clothes for days—took John to some neighbors’ homes, demanding to know what they saw. At one point, they went back home and woke Robert, who also denied ever seeing Kelly. Robert eventually got up and left the house. In the middle of one of Elizabeth’s visits to a neighbor, detectives from the NCPD Juvenile Aid Bureau found her and asked her if she would come back to her house.
When they requested to search the house, Elizabeth called her husband, John, a gas station owner, who was at his yacht club. He told her not to let them search until he returned. When John came home, Elizabeth and John Jay accompanied one officer, a newly minted member of the unit, upstairs, and John Sr. went downstairs with the other officer. Within minutes a call came upstairs that the house was now a crime scene. The veteran officer told the rookie to go next door and use the neighbor’s phone to call for the medical examiner and some backup.
According to sources, when John Jay heard something was found, he asked “Was it a girl?”
Instead of using the neighbor’s phone, though, the call went out over the police radio, say sources. And down the block Richard Tinyes, who at the time was the owner of a collision shop and outfitted with a police scanner, heard the call go out.
“What could I do?” he says now. “I had to comfort my wife and my son. But I heard them call for the medical examiner. I knew it was bad.”
It was beyond bad. Kelly’s body was found hidden in a small storage space in the basement that was filled with trash. Her body was savaged and placed in a green sleeping bag. The extent of her injuries were brutal. She was sexually mutilated, her torso slashed open and her throat slit. In the sleeping bag was a 19-inch bayonet. In contrast to the mystery of the few who saw Kelly enter the Golub home, too many people saw her leave—in a body bag.
It became important right away to John Jay, according to statements and sources, to get his story right. “My friends and I played Nintendo in the living room,” John Jay claimed in his statement. “We stayed until 3:45 playing Nintendo. No one came to the house during that time and I don’t think anyone called.”
Robert Golub told cops that his brother wanted him to tell them about his playing video games. Bataan told cops that Golub called his house while Bataan was in the shower. Bataan’s sister took a message, though: Tell him to tell the cops that we were playing Nintendo.
John Jay also went to Bataan’s house with his brother-in-law Robert Walker, but Bataan had already been taken by the cops for questioning. According to reports, John Jay was irritable and nervous, demanding to see Steve Bataan. When Bataan’s mother said that he was not there, Golub yelled out, “Tell them we were playing Nintendo,” in hopes Bataan was within earshot.
“Why would he go through the trouble of covering his tracks like that?” asks Tinyes.
Within two days of the murder and arrest of his older brother, John Jay Golub was gone from Horton Road. He was never charged. Testimony from Jimmy Walsh was never entered into the record. Using DNA, former Nassau County Prosecutor Dan Cotter won a conviction against Robert Golub, who is now in Green Haven Prison, and who has to this day denied his involvement. Nobody is buying it.
“If we did learn one thing in this investigation, it is that Robert Golub is guilty of murdering Kelly Ann Tinyes. Guilty to the nth degree,” says Rice.
John Jay went on to attend school at LaSalle Military Academy. According to Richard Tinyes, the last time he was seen on Horton Road to John Jay in about 10 years. When asked why a rift had developed, Robert answered, “Ask him.”
Sources close to the current investigation say that Daniel Schiffer, a close friend and former roommate of John Jay’s, initially told investigators that Golub once confided to him that he had made the phone call to Kelly that day. But Schiffer changed his story some time later, claiming it was not John Jay who said it, but rather another person.
“For the DA to reopen this case, she is going to need either a John Jay confession or a witness,” says Lewis. “She has nothing new.”
Neither Golub nor Schiffer could be reached for this story.
There is also the question of why a white board near the phone in the Golub house that had Kelly’s number written on it went missing, courtesy of John Jay, according to sources close to the investigation. The phone is right near the basement stairs, a piece of “testimonial evidence that means nothing,” says Lewis, who also claims that the board was not taken by John but rather erased by someone else.
Sources also said that when one of John’s friends who was there that day went to go to the basement, John Jay flipped out.
John Jay has not steered clear of trouble. In the late 1990s he was arrested on drug charges in Nassau County. Sources have also said that three employees of a New Jersey Hooters sued Golub, who had been the manager there, for sexual discrimination after he promised them better work shifts in exchange for sexual favors. Hooters corporate offices in Atlanta could not confirm the allegation.
The Golubs never moved. They have tried to sell the house with no luck, but Richard and Victoria say that John Golub still drives by when Victoria is outside and smiles or gives her the finger. He will not do this to Richard. Only Victoria.
“In 20 years, there was never one ‘I’m sorry,’” says Victoria.
And because this world can seem awfully small sometimes, prosecutors are hoping someone is going to come forward with something. “[John Jay] had to have said something at some point over all these years,” says Victoria. “I believe he knew more about it. He was involved. If he is innocent, why didn’t he ever come forward and say nothing happened?”
Although they are full of pain, they will not act out, says Richard. Over the years they have had prisoners offer to “take care” of Robert for some cigarettes. They have gotten harassing phone calls. When Richard found out that a body was discovered in the Golub house, he vented his pain by going to his garage and destroying everything he could touch. But he wouldn’t attack the Golubs physically. He says Kelly would not have wanted him to do such a thing.
The phone rings again with another media request. Richard answers it as Richie Jr. checks the Facebook page that was set up for Kelly’s birthday on March 5, when dozens of friends and family members are expected to come to the house and release balloons into the sky and remember her.
“It doesn’t bother me that it’s crazy like this,” says Victoria. “Today is rough. Kelly would be having her own babies now. But I’m excited they are pursuing the case.”
Outside, the snow covers the quiet street. Soon it will be buzzing with TV vans and reporters, much like it did 20 years ago when Kelly Ann left her house for the last time. Before the media arrives, Richard Tinyes stands in front of his home, smoking a cigarette. He looks down the block and sees John Golub plowing snow in front of his house. Golub gets out of his brown pickup and walks slowly to the front door to the house that 20 years ago became the most infamous location on Long Island. Tinyes grimaces.
“I can’t believe they are still there,” he says as a frigid wind blows down Horton Road. was Thanksgiving, 1989. Ribando says that when he visited Robert in jail, Robert told him he had not spoken