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239 chapter fifteen1 Ad Seg “It is a place that robs a person of humanity . The depression of the place hits you in the face. It is the most miserable place that you can imagine. If you want to punish someone, put them in there and forget about them.” —Dr. Keith Price Warden, William Clements Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice I The final “victim” of Abdelkrim Belachheb’s murders was Ianni’s Restaurant and Club. In some ways the establishment once typified the American Dream. Joe Ianni came to the United States from Italy as a toddler, was processed through Ellis Island, and by the age of eight was in Dallas. He and his wife Totsy worked hard all their lives to build a business, earn an honest living, and leave the results of that hard work to their daughter. In less than three or four minutes, Belachheb took two generations of hard work away from a family of good and decent people. Like many other infamous crime scenes, Ianni’s Restaurant and Club attracted a wide range of gawkers, from the merely curious to the disturbingly weird. The task of asking some of the stranger patrons to leave fell to the bartenders, like Richard Jones, or even 240 • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Mary, who performed those tasks carefully and as delicately as possible . Ianni’s bar business did not suffer, but the restaurant side was hurt badly. Infamy slowly eroded the business so that by May 1986 a fire became the occasion to close up once and for all. The space was later leased briefly as a Chinese restaurant, but it closed after a short time. In 1990 it opened again as a Mexican restaurant, which later failed as well. After five years of failed attempts to establish a business there, an employee of the property holding company that owned the building admitted that lingering notoriety made the space difficult to lease. “They should have made it a haunted house, huh?”2 During the summer of 2002, the space that was once Ianni’s Restaurant and Club was empty. The interior has been gutted so completely that air conditioning ducts and telephone and electric wires hung like entrails from the skeletal remains of a false ceiling. Nothing inside indicates where the U-shaped bar once stood or where the Mike Harris Quartet played. The only remnant of that infamous night is a small square of hardwood tile in the foyer between the two front doors where Belachheb stood to unjam his gun between rounds of murder. Next door, Cappuccino’s is still in business today and its exterior still looks much like it did in 1984. But that area is not teeming with money as it once was. The north Dallas bubble burst in the late 1980s, and Dallasites have been living in a more realistic economic climate ever since. The large apartments, once considered upscale and plush, are beginning to show their age. The grounds are a little less perfectly manicured, and there is a sense that soon the area will need to be refurbished. There are rumors that the Harvest Hill Shopping Center, the home of Cappuccino’s and Ianni’s, will be leveled. Melinda Henneberger, the cub reporter for the Dallas Morning News whose trip to Brussels broke the story of Belachheb’s long criminal history in Europe, left Dallas after six years of reporting AD SEG • 241 to write for New York’s Newsday. By 1992, she had become a reporter for the New York Times and rose to the position of Rome Bureau Chief. In 2002, she resigned that position to write a book about a lost fresco by Leonardo da Vinci. “I knew she was going places,” Norman Kinne said recently. Today, Melinda Henneberger is a reporter for Newsweek. Richard Jones, the bartender who felt particles of gunpowder hit his face as Belachheb fired the first shot into Marcell Ford, had bad dreams and trouble sleeping for several years after that deadly night. He left Ianni’s before the restaurant closed permanently in 1986. Today, he remains in the Dallas restaurant business as a manager of a well-known Italian restaurant. John McNeill, the only survivor among those Abdelkrim Belachheb shot, is still a businessman in Dallas. The bullet that went through his torso shocked his spine and paralyzed him so that he could not walk for about three months. In all, Belachheb “took him out” for about a year. He continues to live...


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MARC Record
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