Daniel Dominic Boccabella Sr.
D.C. Officer Was Lead Detective on 1973 Mass Murder Case

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Daniel D. Boccabella Sr., 72, a retired D.C.
police officer who was the lead detective in a
1973 mass murder case, died June 25 at a
hospice in Cape Coral, Fla. He had complications
from melanoma.

Mr. Boccabella, known as Danny, joined
the D.C. police department in 1960 and
eventually became a sergeant and detective

On at least two occasions during almost
two decades on the force, he found himself in
the right place at the right time, according to
reports in The Washington Post. On a March
night in 1968, plainclothesman Boccabella was
walking two friends to their car on K Street SW when two men approached
them, one pulling a gun and saying: "Be quiet. Give me all your money." Mr.
Boccabella, who was off duty, pulled his service revolver instead of his money.
The would-be robbers fled.

Later that year, then-Sgt. Boccabella was on his way to a police garage and was
waiting for a light at 18th and G streets NW when a man who had just robbed
Burk Jewelers ran past on the sidewalk. The officer leaped from his car and
arrested the suspect, who was literally holding the bag -- a gray paper bag filled
with watches, rings and cash.

His highest-profile investigation was the 1973 execution-style slaying of seven
people at a house on 16th Street NW that was the national headquarters of the
Hanafi Madhab Moslems, as the group was called at the time. The assailants
fatally shot two men and drowned five children, including a 9-day-old boy,
reportedly in retaliation for letters written by the group's leader that criticized
Elijah Muhammad, founder and head of the Nation of Islam.

Sgt. Boccabella spent several months traveling the country, following leads and
tips, which resulted in the apprehension and indictment of eight Black Muslims
from Philadelphia, five of whom were convicted.

Daniel Dominic Boccabella Sr. was born in the District and graduated from
McKinley Technical High School. After serving with the Army in Europe for
three years, he joined the D.C. police.

He retired from the Organized Crime Branch in 1979 and moved to Cape Coral,
where he owned AllCape Realty until a second retirement in 1999.

His first wife, the former Cynthia Ann Abbott, died in 2003.

Survivors include his wife of a year, Peggy Clarke Hodges-Boccabella of Cape
Coral; two children from his first marriage, Daniel D. Boccabella Jr. of
Gainesville, Fla., and Christy Boccabella-Brown of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a sister;
and a granddaughter.

-- Joe Holley, The Washington Post
Daniel D. Boccabella Sr.
investigated the
execution-style slaying of
seven people at a Northwest