Details of Disappearance
Daniel was abducted at gunpoint from his home in the 1100 block of 88th Street in Surfside, Florida on March 28, 1966, the day before his eighteenth birthday.
A man entered the home through an unlocked patio door at approximately 5:35 a.m. and woke his parents, Aaron and Sally. He addressed them by their first names and demanded $10,000 in cash. Daniel's parents told him they didn't have the money in the house, and offered to write him a check.
The man bound the Aaron and Sally's wrists behind their backs with venetian blind cord, sticking a pair of scissors and a knife in the knots so they would cut themselves if they struggled, and covered their mouths with adhesive tape. He woke up Daniel, forced him to get dressed, bound him and drove away with him in Daniel's own white Nash Rambler sedan.
He said he wanted a ransom of $25,000 and said if it wasn't paid by 6:00 a.m. on March 29, the price would double. The abductor threatened to kill Daniel if his demands weren't met. He promised to call again with delivery instructions, but never did.
Although his car was found abandoned in a parking lot on Harding Avenue only a few hours later, Daniel has not been seen or heard from since. Photos of the car and Daniel's parents are posted with this case summary.
Aaron was a wealthy and prominent contractor, which may be why the Goldman home was targeted. Aaron stated he didn't get a good look at the abductor in the dark, but had a feeling he knew him.
He described the man as Caucasian with gray hair, about 5'8 to 5'11, 180 to 200 pounds, wearing dark-colored clothing, a baseball cap and eyeglasses with silver metal rims. The man spoke with a midwestern accent and was in his fifties in 1966.
Aaron said the abductor didn't ransack the house and behaved with "gentleness." He checked to make sure Sally could breathe through her gag and that her bindings weren't too tight.
One piece of physical evidence left behind at the home was a fingertip from a surgical glove; the kidnapper apparently tore or cut his glove while tying up Daniel and his parents.
Authorities determined the glove was a Sterling brand designed exclusively for medical use. It's manufactured and distributed exclusively in Canada and can't be purchased in the United States. South Florida is a popular destination for Canadian tourists and it's possible the abductor got the glove locally from someone who was visiting from Canada.
The police sent a letter about the glove to the Canadian Medical Association with a description of the abductor, appealing for information. The letter was published in Canadian medical journals, but nothing came of it.
Aaron was a shareholder with Five Points National Bank in 1966. He complained about the conduct of the bank directors and the FBI interviewed him about it a month before the kidnapping.
Three months after Daniel's abduction, nineteen directors and officers at the bank were indicted for federal fraud. Aaron wasn't one of them. Authorities investigated the possibility that the kidnapper was someone who had a grudge against Aaron due to the bank probe, but they couldn't find any connection.
Aaron and Sally are both now deceased, but members of their extended family, some of Daniel's former classmates and other community members are still investigating the case. Paul Novack, who was a child in 1966 and lived near the Goldman home, is one of them. He's a lawyer and the former mayor of Surfside.
Novack believes several people, including Joe "Chicken" Cacciatore, were involved in Daniel's abduction. Cacciatore was 50 in 1966 and resembled the description of Daniel's kidnapper. He was an accomplished burglar and thief whose cousin was the local Mafia boss Santo Trafficante Jr.
According to Novack's theory, the Goldmans had hidden $10,000 in cash in their house and planned to use the money to send Daniel out of the country so he wouldn't have to register for the draft on his eighteenth birthday. Cacciatore heard about this from another criminal, Charles Lloyd, whose daughter was Daniel's girlfriend. This would explain how the kidnapper(s) knew about the money in the Goldman house.
Cacciatore was never questioned by the police about Daniel's disappearance. Novack believes some members of the Miami-Dade Police Department did know he was involved, however.
The department was notoriously corrupt in the 1960s. Seven months after Daniel's abduction, five of its officers were indicted on burglary and larceny charges, including Sergeant David Helman, who was assigned to Daniel's case. Cacciatore allegedly committed the actual crimes and Helman would conceal the evidence.
The charges against the five officers were dismissed on a technicality. Helman resigned from the force and became a private investigator and bail bondsman. In 1970, he was called to testify against another Miami-Dade police officer in a corruption trial; he refused, pleading his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination in response to 49 questions.
Helman and Cacciatore are now deceased. Cacciatore's name and photograph were printed in the local news several times in 1966 and 1967 after he was implicated in the police corruption scandal, but Sally and Aaron never went to the police and said they recognized his picture. Photos of Cacciatore, Lloyd and Helman are posted with this case summary.
In 1986, twenty years after Daniel's abduction, a woman in a Miami bar claimed she'd been his girlfriend and said she knew what had happened and that Daniel was dead.
The woman stated that after Daniel was taken from his residence, he was taken to another location and there he recognized one of his kidnappers. The abductors panicked, killed him, dismembered the body and dumped it in the Florida Gulf Stream.
The bartender called the police, but by the time authorities arrived, the woman was gone. She has never been identified. Daniel's girlfriend still lives in the area and is still in touch with the police; she says she was not the woman in the bar in Miami and knows nothing about Daniel's abduction or his ultimate fate.
Daniel is an only child and was a senior at Miami Beach High School at the time of his abduction. There have never been any arrests in his disappearance and foul play is suspected.