Blood Spills On Main Street:
The Wendy’s Massacre
By LIZ GOFF
was a death trap.
Two gunmen walked into a Wendy’s fast food restaurant at
40-12 Main St. at about 11 p.m. on the night of May 24, 2000 by asking
for the store manager by name. Six employees inside the restaurant were
busy cleaning and closing up, and the manager was working in his
basement office when the men arrived.
sat bordered up and behind police barricades the day after the massacre,
while families mourned the death of loved ones.
In less than an hour five of the workers were dead, one
was near death and another was gravely wounded.
In an act of revenge and anger, the gunmen herded the
workers to the basement freezer, wrapped plastic bags around the
victims’ heads – and blasted them at point-blank range. It was a
crime so ruthless and grisly that it shocked seasoned homicide
detectives and left crime scene cops and city morgue workers sickened.
All seven employees were shot in the head. Jean Auguste,
27, the store manager; Ramon Nazario, 44; Anita Smith, 23; Jeremy Mele,
18 and Ali Ibadat, 40, were killed instantly. Ja Quione Johnson, 18, was
near death, with a bullet in his brain. And Patricio (Patrick) Castro,
23, was seriously injured.
makeshift memorial that formed outside of Wendy’s in the days following the deadly massacre foreshadowed what
was to come – John Taylor being sentenced to death.
But Castro, a quiet Ecuadorian immigrant, became the hero
of the horror when he called 911, then crawled upstairs with Johnson on
Thirty-six hours later, Queens Homicide detectives and
detectives from Flushing’s 109th Precinct Squad arrested suspect John
Taylor at his sister’s Brentwood, L.I. home. Taylor carried some
deadly evidence – including the murder weapon, cash from the store
robbery and the store surveillance tape, ripped from its camera by his
accomplice Craig Godineaux to prevent the pair from being identified by
Godineaux was arrested a short while later after Taylor
“gave him up” and told police where he could be found.
When the smoke cleared, both men were facing numerous
capital murder charges – but that didn’t phase Taylor. Time and time
again at pre-trial hearings, he glared and smirked at the victims’
families in court, secure in his belief that he would never “get the
needle” by a death sentence.
The victim’s families felt cheated when, on Feb. 21,
2001, Godineaux was spared the death penalty and handed five consecutive
life sentences without the possibility of parole.
massacre mastermind John Taylor is on death row for his role in the
execution-style murders of five restaurant employees.
Courtesy of NYPD
Godineaux pleaded guilty to 47 counts in all, but he was
deemed unfit for the death penalty after he was found to be borderline
mentally retarded – an element of the 1995 New York State death
Taylor went on trial in November 2002 in Queens Supreme
Court. Following two weeks of testimony – including damning, graphic
accounts of the crime by Patrick Castro and Ja Quione Johnson and the
presentation of crime scene photos – a jury of seven men and five
women on Nov. 19, 2002, convicted Taylor of 20 counts of murder and
attempted murder. The trial lasted only three weeks.
After a separate death penalty phase, where jurors heard
from the defense and prosecutors why Taylor should or should not be
executed by lethal injection, the jury on Nov. 26 sentenced Taylor to
On Jan. 8, 2003, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Fisher
signed a death warrant for Taylor’s execution for March 2, 2003.
Fisher also sentenced Taylor to 325 years to life in prison for the
counts for which he did not receive the death penalty.
New York State law guarantees Taylor an appeal to the New
York State Court of Appeals. Taylor was “shipped immediately,”
according to Fisher’s ruling, on Jan. 8, to the New York State
Correctional Facility at Clinton, NY. He was appointed an attorney for
his appeal process in May 2003.
Taylor is the first person to be sentenced to death in
Queens since Governor George Pataki reinstated New York State’s death
penalty in February 1995. He is the sixth man on New York’s Death Row
– a virtual fishbowl where the condemned spend their days waiting for
parole or death by lethal injection.
The victims’ families are
currently preparing a lawsuit against Wendy’s charging that a lack of
security equaled negligence on the part of the fast food chain, and led
to the May 2000 massacre.