Thursday, August 19, 1999

Rosie DiManno

p. B3.

Why would this woman love a killer?

There are times when I really wonder about woman. And then I wonder why I'm wondering about women when there's a male multiple killer sitting right in front of me, in the full and flabby flesh.

The issue should be why Marcello Palma killed three women (or quasi-women) — a female, a transsexual, a transvestite — three years ago, within a busy hour or so of .357 magnum target shooting wherein all the targets were prostitutes.

But it seems increasingly as if this central question will not be answered at least not in the courtroom where Palma, having already admitted to the fact of the slayings, is now in the middle of a hearing to determine whether he will be found not guilty by reason of mental incapacity.

Perhaps when this hearing resumes in the fall, with evidence proffered by psychiatrists, the question of he did what he did will be more adequately addressed. but I'm disinclined to put my faith in the expert testimony of the psychiatric community.

Thus, we are left with what we have so far: the evidence of two pivotal women in Palma's life — his wife and his mistress.

Palma may have loved them both, even at the same time. He had a child with the former and an abortion with the latter. And perchance he hated them both on that Victoria Day evening when he went out in the pounding rain to "pop" a trio of hookers.

Even more prostitutes would have died (according to comments he made to his brother and a friend, contained in an agreed statements of facts submitted to the court), if Palma had but come across a few other bits of "scum" turning tricks on such a wretched night. Thank God for the rain.

But when Claudia Taylor, Palma's mistress, took the witness stand yesterday morning, the first thought that went through my head was: "How'd he get her?" Claudia, now 27, is an extremely attractive woman with lush lips and a chestnut bob. Originally from Chile, she speaks with a faint Spanish accent. she sounds as pretty as she looks, and she looks like a well groomed airline attendant, which is what she is.

In the early fall of '95, Claudia was living at home and working as assistant manager of an Etobicoke restaurant, which is where she met Palma.

He's come in to fix the refrigerator. They talked. For the first month or so, they dated. By November, Claudia was pregnant. In December she had the abortion and by April her existence had been conformed for Palma's wife, Rosa, after the latter received an illuminating phone call from Claudia's worried mother.

It was never made clear whether Claudia knew that Marcello was a married man, with a baby daughter, before the couple became intimately involved, having sex "three or four times a week." Nor was it clear whether this at any time bothered Claudia. It did bother her parents, who would hang up on Marcello when he called the house.

Maybe these domestic details don't matter very much anymore. Maybe "love" excuses all. But I can't fathom why a woman as attractive and (apparently) sensible as Claudia would go for a lump like Marcello, who's no Marcello Mastroianni, despite his alleged sweet treatment of his paramour, before he started getting all depressed and temperamental and suicidal, in the early months of '96.

As evidence of Palma's bizarre behavior, Claudia recounted an incident where he tried to chase down a peeping Tom who had ogled the couple whilst they were making out, in Marcello's truck, in Humber Park.

But Claudia also responded with "No" answers to the grocery list of deviant behaviours — indicative of sadism — presented by defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan: rough sex, violent sex, kinky sex, and anal sex, a "fixation" with oral sex, the use of sexual props or devises, insistence that she "crawl" to him, restraining her, blindfolding her, paddling her, spanking her, whipping her, beating her, burning her, electric shocks, rope. cutting, stabbing, strangling, torture, mutilation.

Palma's escalating depression, Claudia assumed, was a result of his conflict over his marital responsibilities. "I believe he was in love with me and wanted to leave (Rosa). At the same time, he had a beautiful home and his beautiful baby — he didn't know what to do."

As for what she provided Palma, at the height of his despair: "He was very suicidal and I guess I was his little medicine. I got him out of his depression and made him fell a little better."

On May 20, they fought. Claudia flew off the handle when Palma was tardy responding to her phone messages and her pages. She pouted and later, she shouted. She wanted to go to Niagara Falls for a picnic. That night, Marcello Palma shot three strangers in the head.

[Toronto '99] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: March 28, 2000
Last modified: January 31, 2001
CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710