Blaming the Mafia

After the murders of Jose and Kitty Menendez there was a lot of speculation that the murders had been the work of the Mafia and were business-related. Regardless of who ignited this speculation, Lyle and Erik played a significant part in adding fuel to it.

Lyle and Erik were interviewed by Sgt. Thomas Edmonds in the early morning hours of August 21, 1989.
Edmonds asked Erik: “Do you have any idea who may have done this?”
Erik replied: “No. My family has no enemies, but my dad doesn’t have a lot of friends, but, you know, in his business, uh, my brother may know.”
(There was a dispute over whether Erik said: “My dad doesn’t have a lot of friends” or “My dad does have a lot of friends.”)

Edmonds next interviewed Lyle. Edmonds asked Lyle: “Do you have any ideas on this that’s going to help us solve it?”
Lyle replied that, “One of my concerns is that I don’t like any bad press about my father now.”
Edmonds then tells Lyle that, “We’re not reporters, we’re policemen.” And that what Lyle tells the police “stays inside this room until it goes to court and we prosecute the people. We want to get these people, or person, whoever did it to answer for their crimes. So you’ve got to help us.”
Lyle then says:
“Well, uh, I can’t imagine that my mother has ever done — I’ve been with my mother. Usually my brother and I are with my mother all the time. She’s busy with us, and working on the other house, and you know, it’s hard to say. I mean, I’ve — I thought about a lot of things outside. I thought maybe that Mark [Heffernan] said it might be a robbery or something. But from the looks of it, it’s — it didn’t look like that. It looked — looked like they definitely wanted to make a mess, and it was really, uh, sad.
“So I don’t know — I mean, I would think that unless they find things that are missing from the house, or something strange like that, I think that they would — it would be my father that would be the reason that this would happen.
“Look at my father in his business. And he — you know, he used to work for R.C.A. Records, which was lot bigger than what he does now. He works in a smaller company, and with a group of people that are — from the stories that he brings home, and the people that I’ve met, these are a real seedy group. And even though he was very aware of that, and — you know, I don’t know if anyone would try to kill my father.”

Later in the interview, Lyle says:
“And I talked to my brother, and he said that, uh, you know, he is in the business where there is little — little small companies, and they’re being squeezed out, and they’re going down, and my dad is a pretty — pretty ruthless businessman, and he believes in the bottom line. And we have — we’ve laughed a lot over a lot of stories of him trying to push these guys out of — and you know, it might be business-related.”

Both brothers were interviewed by police again on September 17, 1989. During the interview Lyle said that, “I don’t believe the organized crime thing until I see something.”
Lyle later testified that the reason he tried to lead police away from the Mafia trail was because he feared the Mafia would kill him because the Mafia might have believed the brothers were helping the police.

Perry Berman testified that he spoke to the Menendez brothers around 6 a.m. on the morning of August 21, 1989 in the waiting area at the police station. Berman testified that, “I asked them who could have done this. I asked them if it was a robbery and he (Lyle) said no. It was business related.”

A few months later, Berman had another conversation with Lyle. Lyle again related that, “It was business-related.” And that, “There was some type of problem he (Jose) had with Noel Bloom, I believe, or — at LIVE Entertainment where they purchased the distribution company from him. And I believe it was over that.”

About a month after the murders, Berman had a conversation with Erik at a friend’s birthday party. Erik told Berman that the murders of his parents “was business-related.”

Randolph Wright spoke to the Menendez brothers at his house in the afternoon of August 21, 1989. He asked the brothers if they had any ideas who might have done the killings. Wright testified:
“I recall Lyle telling me about his father’s business and he had negotiated a sale of some record stores — a purchase or a sale of some — a chain of record stores in the east. And they were Mafia-controlled. And after they found out that his father pulled such a terrific business deal, they had given his father a lot of heat about it and, in essence, he had been threatened. So Lyle thought that it was a Mafia killing. He relayed that to me.”

Lyle hired bodyguards after the death of his parents. Bodyguard Richard Wenskoski testified that he asked Lyle who he thought was responsible for the murders. “He believed it was either the Columbia cartel or the mob, meaning the Mafia.” And that, “He feared that his life was in jeopardy, that — I believe he told me it was almost like a message sent.”

Jamie Pisarcik testified that on the night before the memorial service in New Jersey, Lyle told her that, “It must have been either a mob or Mafia-related; that they must have been after his father.” And that the “LIVE Entertainment business that his father was involved with did have pornographic ties and that that could have been a reason.”

Glenn Stevens testified he talked to Lyle about the murders. Stevens testified that Lyle said, “that his father had had some questionable business dealings with a gentleman by the name of Noel Bloom and some other people, and that perhaps the Mafia had had something to do with it.”

In an interview with Los Angeles Times reporters Ron Soble and John Johnson, Lyle said: “I believe he (Jose) died because he wouldn’t, you know, I believe it was organized crime and I believe he died because he wouldn’t cooperate with such activities.”
Lyle told Soble and Johnson he had a pretty good idea of who would like to see Jose dead: Noel Bloom.
Erik chimed in and said : “We don’t know that Noel did it.”
Lyle then said: “I feel confident that what I have educatedly guessed at is correct.”

In an October 1989 interview with journalist Robert Rand, Erik said: “Noel Bloom sounds like the most logical possibility.”

Erik met with his friend Craig Cignarelli on November 29, 1989. Erik told Cignarelli that he thought the murders might be Mafia related, or done by someone from the company, or a hit team from Cuba.

Lyle’s September 17, 1989 statement (“I don’t believe the organized crime thing until I see something”) notwithstanding, it is quite clear that both Lyle and Erik promoted and espoused the theory that the murders of their parents had been the work of the Mafia and were business-related. My personal belief is that the Menendez brothers decided prior to them callously ambushing their defenseless parents that they were going to tell police and others that it was a business-related Mafia killing. I don’t believe it was an idea that popped into their minds after a spontaneous act of self-defense.