Real Name: Robert A. Corrado
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Theft, Drug Possession
Missing Since: April 4, 1989
Details: From the Delaware Memorial Bridge, more than 90 people have jumped to their deaths. Because of the Delaware River's predictable currents, all but five of their bodies have been recovered. On April 4, 1989, the river apparently claimed another victim. Early that morning, two unidentified commuters reported to a tollbooth operator that they had seen a man walking alone on the bridge near a parked car. The Delaware State Police were dispatched to the scene. They located the car with its engine still running. The car's owner was nowhere to be found. A wallet was found on the front seat; in it was a Pennsylvania driver's license for twenty-nine-year-old Robert Corrado. A suicide note was found on the dashboard.
For the next three hours, boat rescue teams conducted an extensive search of the river and its banks. However, no body was recovered. Since most of the bodies of jumpers from the bridge had been found, police were suspicious. They became even more suspicious when they learned that Corrado was due to stand trial on grand theft and drug dealing charges in just six days. Although his family is convinced he committed suicide, police believe that he staged his own death.
Along with two partners, Corrado owned a thriving auto body shop sixty miles from Baltimore. In less than a year of operation, "Rising Sun Motors" netted close to $1 million. No one outside of the business knew that Corrado was a convicted thief who had served less than two years in prison. "Rising Sun Motors" was actually a front for an extremely profitable auto theft ring involving a huge network of people. Corrado and one of his partners, Erik Shaw, often stole the cars themselves. Shaw was also a convicted thief. The two specifically targeted Mazdas as they were easy to break into. They stole cars from various locations, including: car dealerships, parking garages, and city streets.
On April 21, 1988, acting on an anonymous tip, Maryland State Police and the FBI raided Rising Sun Motors. Corrado and Shaw were arrested. Maryland State Police confiscated four stolen cars, thirty pounds of marijuana, and a pound of cocaine. Corrado and Shaw were charged on thirty-two counts, including grand theft and distributing drugs. The two faced up to twenty years in prison.
Corrado's bail was set at $250,000. His parents posted bond and a trial was set for September 13, 1988. At the trial, Shaw was the state's star witness. He testified against Corrado and their other partner in exchange for a lighter sentence. He felt that it was the right thing to do and claimed that Corrado would have received a lighter sentence as well if he had cooperated. Corrado and his parents felt that Shaw had "betrayed" them, as the two had formerly been close friends.
Despite Shaw's testimony, a mistrial was declared due to a legal technicality. Corrado was ordered to stand trial again on April 10, 1989. Six days before that on April 4, his car was found abandoned on the bridge. His mother was convinced that he had committed suicide, as he was depressed and upset about his criminal activities.
The FBI believes that Corrado made regular trips to Atlantic City, gambling heavily and losing. A parking stub in his car showed that he had been there on the night of April 4. His mother noted that he was on painkillers for a back injury. She believes that he was also drinking that night, which led to him committing suicide. His alleged suicide note was mixed with remorse and anger. It read, in part:
Sorry folks, I've had it. To the ones who cared, I'm sorry to go out like this. To Erik Shaw, come see me soon. I'll be waiting for you in Hell. Love you Mom and Dad, please don't be sad.
The FBI and local authorities believe the suicide note was simply a part of Corrado's scam. Although his Pennsylvania driver's license and car were found on the bridge, he also held an illegal Delaware license which was never recovered. Shaw recalled that Corrado was good at making forgeries, so he believes that he would have been able to make false identification for himself. Authorities have even theorized that Corrado waited on the bridge for an accomplice to pick him up, then drove to the tollbooth to report the man on the bridge. The tollbooth operator did not take the names of the men or their car's license plate number. Their identities remain unknown.
Authorities suspect that Corrado believed his parents would not be responsible for the bail money if it was assumed that he was dead. However, authorities note that they are responsible unless a body is recovered. Although his family believes he is dead, Shaw and the police don't believe he took his life. They believe he is very alive and living his life on the run.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 24, 1990 episode.
Results: Captured. In 1992, a marijuana field was staked out and raided by officers. Corrado was discovered there, alive and well. He was arrested, convicted of theft charges, and sentenced to four years in prison. He has since been released.
- Corrado mystery still unsolved despite tips
- United States v. Robert Corrado
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Robert Corrado Page 1 , Page 2