Mustachioed Murderer Convicted By Magic Marker

When an eyewitness fingered the guilty man but claimed he had a mustache, Detective Nelson Andreu drew facial hair on a photo lineup to get a confirmation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When an eyewitness picked the same man out of a lineup that one of his victims named with a dying breath, there was just one small hiccup for Miami homicide detectives on the case: the witness, a 15-year-old boy, claimed the face belonging to Carlos Santys had a mustache.

    This was in 1982, before computer-aided suspect sketches and capable photo-editing software. So Detective Nelson Andreu did what anyone who'd grown up with a Wooly Willy would, according to the Miami Herald: he painted facial hair on the entire lineup, just to ensure the boy's testimony would hold up.

    "Using my best artistic ability," he tesified at Santys' trial this week, "I used a Magic Marker and painted a mustache on all six photographs."

    Andreu's little trick worked, and police knew they had the right man -- it just took another 28 years to get him in a courtroom. After nearly three decades on the lam in Spain, Santys was finally convicted on two counts of first-degree murder in a Miami courtroom Friday night for the slayings of two security workers in Little Havana with whom he was in a dispute over a bad check. 

    Oh, and just in case the fake mustache trick needed backup as a now-clean shaven Santys claimed mistaken identity as a defense, prosecutors brought along a witness whose positive ID few would doubt. Retired DEA agent Charles Cecil, who helped take down Manuel Noriega, Pablo Escobar, and Miami's own "Godmother," Griselda Blanco, had become so close to Santys' wife while she worked as a drug underworld informant that he even gave her away at the couple's wedding.

    It was probably the only time in his life Santys wished he was actually hiding behind a fake mustache.