James Troiano

Following the 60s’ and 70s’ relative permissiveness with regard to recreational drug use, the 1980s saw a dramatic shift with the advent of crack cocaine, as well as hyper-violent drug-fueled homicides in the suburbs.

Ricky Kasso grew up unremarkably in Northport, Long Island, but after discovering drugs as a teenager, he ran away from home. Nicknamed “Acid King” for his love of PCP, LSD, and mescaline, Kasso dealt small-time with his sidekick, James Troiano, and dabbled in devil worship. He was arrested for grave robbing at age 16, stealing a skull and a hand for use in Satanic rituals.

Gary Lauwers, also a runaway, stole some of Kasso’s PCP at a party. Kasso confronted Lauwers, Lauwers paid, but Kasso wouldn’t let it go. On June 16, 1984, Kasso lured Lauwers to the woods to get high. Troiano came along and held Lauwers down while Kasso stabbed him at least 32 times with a pocketknife.

In the following 2 weeks, the boys led anywhere from 15 to 30 friends to see the skeletonizing remains, until someone overheard the talk and tipped the police. Kasso and Troiano were charged on July 6. Kasso was found hanged in his cell on July 7.

At trial, defense attorney Eric Naiburg contended that hallucinogenic drugs made it impossible to determine what happened that night in the woods. The jury deliberated 3 days and acquitted Troiano on April 26, 1985.