Jennifer Stahl dancer Biography

The daughter of affluent parents in Titusville, New Jersey, the vivacious, blue-eyed blonde had what friends called a "rebellious" streak. In the midֱ980s, Stahl was settled in New York City studying ballet and trying to break into movies. She appeared in a small part in the forgettable 1986 film Necropolis and worked occasionally at strip clubs in New Jersey. While awaiting her big break, Stahl sold pot to make ends meet. That break appeared to come in 1987 when producers of the film Dirty Dancing were scouting for goodlooking kids that could dance and work for cheap. Stahl fit the bill on both counts. The young hopeful was cast as a "dirty dancer" to provide background action behind the gyrations of stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The film was a smash, but Stahl managed only to capitalize on its success by briefly teaching a "How to Dirty Dance" class in 1988 in Rockland County. Dreams of a movie career ended with minuscule parts in Firehouse (1987) and I'm Your Man (1992). Divorced, estranged from her parents, and no longer a member of Actors' Equity, Stahl shifted her career focus to singing. She converted a room in her apartment five stories above the Carnegie Delicatessen in Midtown Manhattan into a sound proof recording studio and cut a CD as "Calamity Jen" that sold poorly in Japan. As her singing career tanked, Stahl expanded her pot dealing. Claiming to work for an R&B record company, the former dirty dancer sold high grade marijuana to a select clientele out of her apart - ment in a Donald Trump owned building at 854 Seventh Avenue. Inside her front door, a card - board sign listed prices for a half-dozen types of exotic grass selling from $300 to $600 an ounce. Stahl's motto to her handpicked customers: "Buy more, come less." Though never busted in New York City, Stahl was on a watchlist of possible drug dealers coming in and out of Puerto Rico and Barbados. On the evening of May 10, 2001, as tourists ate at the popular Carnegie Delicatessen, Stahl, 39, was relaxing in her sixth-floor apartment with some friends (not connected with her drug business). Anthony Veader, 37, a hair stylist who had worked on the sets of movies (Men in Black, 1997; 8mm, 1999) was cutting Stahl's hair as she drank wine with Rosemond Dane and musician Charles Helliwell, III, both 36, who had arrived that day from the Virgin Islands to attend a wedding in New Jersey. Also present was Stephen King, 32, an accomplished trombonist from Michigan who planned to record in Stahl's apartment sound studio. At 7:27 P.M. two men wearing bandanas (caught on the building's surveillance camera) climbed the stairs to the drug dealer's apartment. According to a surviving witness, Stahl opened the door to them, called one of them "Sean," and was forced by the man into the adjacent recording studio. The man's companion ordered Veader and King to the floor and used duct tape to bind King's hands and feet. From the recording room, Stahl could be heard saying, "Take the money, take the money. Take the drugs. Don't hurt anybody." A single shot was fired. Dane and Helliwell emerged from a third room and were forced to the ground by the gunman. Helliwell's hands and feet were bound then Veader heard the sounds of multiple gunshots including one that grazed his head. The assailants fled the scene with a book bag filled with about $1,000 in cash and a dozen one-fourth ounce bags of pot. In all they had been in the building five minutes and forty seconds. The wounded Veader called 911 and police quickly arrived at the scene as diners at the delicatessen below wondered what all the fuss was about. Helliwell and King died instantly from executionstyle gunshot wounds to the back of the head. Stahl expired in the Weill Cornell Medical Center a few hours later from a pistol shot to her forehead. Dane and Veader survived with head wounds lucky, according to one investigator, that the shootings had been a "rush job." On the street below, one observer called the scene "like something out of Law & Order. It was pandemonium. There were police cars backing down Seventh Avenue, police horses in full gallop." Evidence at the scene linked Joseph Sean Salley, 29, and Andre S. Smith, 31, to the carnage in Apartment 9. Salley, a one-time production worker for musician George Clinton and the P-Funk All- Stars, had a rap sheet covered with charges for assault, robbery, and weapons possessions in three states. According to police, Salley's music industry connection linked him to Stahl through her home recording studio. Smith, Salley's suspected confederate, was on parole for a violent robbery committed in 1993 when the so-called Carnegie Deli murders occurred. In fact, the convicted felon should never have been on the street. Arrested in New Jersey in February 2001 (three months prior to the murders) on charges of possessing 311 grams of marijuana near an Irvington public school, Smith should have been immediately jailed for the parole violation, but was not due to an oversight by New Jersey state officials. On May 22, 2001, Smith was arrested by New York authorities after he confessed to taking part in the robbery and tying up the victims. According to Smith, his partner Salley was the triggerman. "I saw Sean walk over calmly to each person and shoot each one once in the back of their necks," Smith wrote in his statement. Salley allegedly told him that he knew of a woman drug dealer who "(sold) weed to the high-class music industry people." The plan, as it was presented to Smith, was to strongarm Stahl into handing over the drugs and money. Salley remained at-large for over two months before a segment featuring his case on the television show America's Most Wanted led to his arrest in Miami, Florida, on July 15, 2001. Salley admitted accidentally shooting Stahl with a gun given to him by Smith, but insisted his accomplice shot the other four people so they could not later identify him. Due to their conflicting confessions, prosecutors did not have enough evidence to charge Smith and Salley with the capital crime of first-degree murder. Instead, both defendants were charged with second-degree murder and tried simultaneously in the same New York City courtroom, but with different juries in May 2002. Seven weeks later on June 18, 2002, Joseph Sean Salley was found guilty of three counts of seconddegree murder and two robbery counts. Andre S. Smith was also found guilty on murder counts even though prosecutors maintained Salley alone shot all the victims. Both subsequently received the maximum 120 year to life prison term and are eligible for parole after serving 116 years.

Tags: USa, Dancer, 1960-1969

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