SURFSIDE (CBS4) – March 28 1966 – Aaron and Sally Goldman were awakened by an armed man looking for $10,000 the couple supposedly had hidden in their home. When he didn’t find the money, the intruder took the Goldman’s son, Danny, telling the parents that if they wanted their child back – they would need to come up with $25,000.
The kidnapping terrified the quiet community of Surfside. Suddenly families were locking doors and kids weren’t allowed to walk home from school. Across Dade County donations were made to help pay the ransom.
Reporters camped out in front of the Goldman home. Danny’s high school sweetheart, Sharon Lloyd, stood vigil outside the house, often holding a picture of the two of them.
As those first days passed without contact from the kidnapper, the Goldman promised Danny’s abductor they would cooperate, making personal pleas to the press.
“I will deliver the ransom to the location the kidnapper directed,” Aaron Goldman told reporters. “We would indeed be foolish not to work with him in our own interest.”
Days turned to months – and months to years – and years to decades, but Danny was never seen again.
“There was never a recovery of Danny dead or alive,” said Paul Novack, a former mayor for Surfside. “There was never an arrest made, and there are very few cases like that in the history of the country.”
Novack almost eight when Goldman was kidnapped
“The Goldman family house is just down the street from where I live now, and just blocks from where I grew up,” he noted.
The mystery has gnawed at him for a long time. A year ago he set off to try and solve it following the death of Danny’s mother.
“How horribly sad that she passed away without getting any answers,” he said.
Novack believes the $10,000 that gunman was looking for was money the Goldmans were supposedly gathering to ship Danny out of the country so the boy wouldn’t have to sign up for the draft the next day when he turned 18.
But when the intruder didn’t find any cash, it turned into a kidnapping.
An attorney by day turned dogged detective at night, Paul Novack dug into the case discovering long lost reports and statements taken from two career criminals. One pointed at a fellow named Joe Cacciatore.
Chicken Cacciatore, as he was known, was an accomplished thief and burglar closely aligned with mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr.
A serious player, Chicken was known to be operating in Miami Beach at the time of the kidnapping.
But how would Chicken know the Goldman family might have $10,000 hidden in the house to sneak Danny out of the country to avoid the draft?
Well, Novack and his team of Surfside sleuth uncovered report from a second informant identifying another member of the kidnap team. A former rum runner and criminal named Charlie Lloyd – the father of Danny Goldman’s girlfriend Sharon.
It would seem remarkable that police couldn’t have uncovered these connections at the time. But as Novack learned, the Dade County Sheriff’s Office was notoriously crooked in the Sixties.
In fact, one of the Dade Sheriff’s deputies in charge of the Goldman investigation was eventually indicted in an unrelated case six months after the kidnapping.
“He was indicted with Joe Cacciatore for jointly committing burglaries,” Novack said.
Chicken, it seems, would do the crime and the cop would cover up the evidence.
So what really happened to Danny Goldman?
Charlie Lloyd and Chicken Cacciatore are long dead as are the jailhouse snitches, informants and indicted cops.
But police are now wondering if Danny’s old girlfriend might somehow hold the answer.
Because of Novack, Miami Dade Police have reopened the case and they have questioned Sharon several times in recent weeks.
In his search, Novack found a decades old Surfside police report in which a bartender claims a woman – who reportedly identified herself as Danny Goldman’s high school girlfriend – came into the bar and told a story about how the kidnapping went wrong.
“There was two men one of them went into the house, took Danny out,” Novack recalled. “And they brought him to another location and at that other location, he saw somebody he recognized. And that everyone involved got scared and decided that they had to kill Danny at that point.”
Novack said Danny’s body was supposedly cut into pieces and dumped into the Florida Gulf Stream.
“There’s never been a funeral for Danny,” Novack said. “There’s never been a memorial service for Danny. The prayers that Jewish people say for the departed were not said. He was just gone!”
The Goldman family released a statement to CBS4 News that says in part: “Hopefully some final conclusion can be discovered and we can close this sad chapter in our family’s history.”
Sharon Lloyd is now 64 years old. She has been married twice and is living in Broward. In a phone interview she acknowledged detectives are talking to her. But she insists she has no idea what happened to Danny.
For more information or tips on the kidnapping of Danny Goldman, visit www.surfsidekidnapping.org