Verceles races downstairs again. He comes back up and says, “I found this and the FBI didn’t take it.” He’s holding what looks like a black mask of the sort worn by hockey goalies. “It’s Kevlar,” Verceles says. “I looked it up online. I’ve never seen one of these before…. It’ll stop a .223 round” — the kind of bullet used in semiautomatic weapons. Verceles found it with a bulletproof vest and a helmet.
After discovering the mask, Verceles called Pace. She was not surprised to hear of it. In fact, Verceles says, she knew all about it. “That’s expensive,” she told him.
So how did Ponzo’s 17 years on the lam end? We may never know for sure, but Verceles has his own idea. He thinks it was Pace who turned Ponzo in.
THREE DAYS AFTER MY VISIT with Verceles, Ponzo arrives in Massachusetts. He’s been extradited from Idaho to face federal charges that were filed against him years after he left Boston. As he shuffles into a small courthouse in Worcester for an arraignment hearing, his goatee is flecked with gray and his hair has thinned to wisps.
Despite the seriousness of the charges against him, Ponzo talks cheerfully with his lawyer, David Duncan. A little later, the government argues that Duncan, on a technicality, should not be allowed to represent Ponzo. Irritated, Ponzo whispers furiously with Duncan. He whispers for so long that the judge stops the proceedings. “Mr. Ponzo, I can’t hear myself think,” he says. “Zip it up.” Moments later, Ponzo pleads not guilty to each of the 10 counts against him. (A trial date had not been set by press time.)
A few nights later I call Kelly Verceles to clarify a few small points for my story. He cuts me off before I can ask anything.
“I don’t know if I should tell you this,” he says.
Something’s happened, he says, something he knows could hurt Ponzo’s case. He spends the next 15 minutes talking around the issue. Finally he decides the whole truth will be public record soon enough. Here is the story he lays out.
About three weeks ago, before my trip to Idaho, he heard from Pace’s cousin and her husband that there was a second safe in the house. Apparently the cousin’s husband had helped build the home 11 years ago, and Ponzo showed him a hole that had been carved into the foundation of the master bedroom, a hole for a safe.
Listen to Paul Kix as he talks about his experiences researching Enrico Ponzo and reveals snippets of his interviews from his Idaho visit.