As was reported last week in this newspaper and others, late on a Friday night, someone apparently climbed the scaffolding holding up the three-story painters tarps surrounding the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor and spray-painted four neon whales very high up on the tarps facing Main Street. The whales are about seven feet long and three feet high. They are shown in side view.
There were witnesses to this. One described the person doing this to be about 5-foot-8, of swarthy complexion with dark hair, a round face and stubby little arms and possibly of Italian heritage. A second witness described the man the same way, but thought he was of Turkish heritage. Police investigating the scene found five empty cans of pink, blue and green spray paint on the ground by the scaffolding.
The spray paint was made by Dust-All Spray, a subsidiary of Oleon Industries of Gary, Indiana. They were dusted for fingerprints. But there weren’t any, although there were places where fingers, apparently inside rubber gloves, were outlined by errant spray. They were indeed short and stubby, which would be in keeping with someone with short and stubby arms.
That was last week. This week, there were more whales. Not again on the library painters tarps, but elsewhere in downtown Sag Harbor. All were drawn in the same spray paint and again there were cans of Dust-All left at the scene. These whales have been painted on at least six other buildings. They are the Apple Savings Bank on Main Street, the 1 Ferry Road building, the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard building, the Schiavoni building on Jermain Avenue, the Old Whalers’ Church, the WLNG building and the home of Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr, a former church on Madison Street where on the side lawn for over a year a 16-foot-tall sculpture by a famous artist, Larry Rivers, has stood, the subject of great controversy by the local citizenry. That whale is now gone, scrubbed clean and then painted over by Vered and Lehr a day after it was put up. The others remain.
Who is doing this? And how soon can he be brought to justice?
Yesterday afternoon, the police officers conducting the investigation came to a meeting at police headquarters to discuss with the chief all those with the three colors of the Dust-All spray paint cans in their possession who they had rounded up. There were quite a lot of suspects and the cans were all, one at a time, brought in and put on several banquet tables as evidence.
One man who had had three Dust-All cans, brought in by Officer Krupke from Hampton Bays, fit the description of the suspected perp, but the Dust-All spray paint cans that had been found at his domicile were not pink, green and blue but puce, magenta and lilac. The man said that his son had brought the cans back from Polynesia, where he had gone to be married to another man, a Polynesian native and Sumo wrestler who had represented that island chain nation at the London Olympics this past July. (He lost.) He had met this man, his son had said, on a scavenging expedition in Burma earlier in the year. The puce had been this other man’s favorite color. He was listed as Perp #1 and he had to be let go. But before he was let go, he received a slap on the wrist. And he also had to put up $200,000 in bail so he wouldn’t flee.
Perp #2 arrived in handcuffs, accompanied by Officer Banana from East Quogue, and he had two cases of the three suspect different color cans of Dust-All spray paint, never opened, with him, but he didn’t fit the description. He was a 6-foot 4-inch Chinese man with a big blond moustache. And he said he had found these cases of Dust-All spray paint at the dump and was taking them to his home in his ’98 Toyota Camry to clean them up before trying to sell them on eBay for whatever he could get, when he got pulled over.
Dumpmaster John Owen was then brought in, and he said that these cases had indeed been brought in to the dump by some lady who he said he hadn’t taken much notice of, although he said she was rather stocky and wore a red dress, but other than that he felt he really couldn’t ever identify her. And so, Perp #2 was let off with just a slap on the wrist and a $200,000 non-returnable bail requirement. The third perp, indicated as Perp #3, was arrested at the end of a comedy performance he was giving onstage at Bay Street Theatre the night before. This perp, a bald middle-aged man with a neck scarf, was Bolly Jolly Peterson, an English comedian, who did his performance in front of a scrim on which he had spray-painted a series of pink, green and blue “x’s” to indicate when a joke he told got over a certain number of seconds of laughter. He told “pink” jokes, he said, nearly all of which were mildly pornographic or just plain cussing. “I don’t know what the ‘pink’ I’m doing here,” he always began. Perhaps his best joke was “Pink it over, dammit. I said pink it over. Oh, pink it.” But by that time, most of the audience had walked out. It plays better in Britain, he told the arresting officer when the handcuffs were held out to him outside. When he was led into police headquarters, with an officer carrying the spray cans behind him, it was noticed right away that the Dust-All label had, in smaller print, the words “Made in Britain” on it, and the other Dust-All cans in evidence from others did not say that. So these were not the same Dust-All cans. He was let go, but not before paying the $200,000 in bail money.
The fourth perp was a sloppily dressed little man they had found in the Northwest section of East Hampton. He had with him a pink spray can of Dust-All that was jumbo in size, nearly 80 pounds in weight, which apparently is available in such places as Price Club, and which would be almost impossible to lift up onto a delicate workman’s scaffolding at the library. Indeed, this potential perp, upon being arrested, the chief said, told this fantastic story, which was that he thought this giant spray can, which he had found in the woods there alongside two others, must have belonged to a huge giant who lived at the top of a beanstalk who needed the spray can to paint his cave up there cheerful colors. As he was being grilled, the chief said, a shaking was heard and out in the parking lot it was possible to see, through the window, these enormous boots, the size of automobiles, that came up some giant ankles to two legs that, well, forced them to let Perp #4 go immediately, only stopping him for a moment to fingerprint him, and stuff into his pockets $200,000 in cash to make him go away. He was last seen running away with the giant can and with these boots and legs following him.
At the end of this meeting, Police Commissioner Rabbit announced that a very unusual thing had happened at the moment the spray paint was being emitted at the six new locations. Nobody had thought much about this. At exactly 9:12 p.m. that fateful night, two minor earthquakes were reported by the Earthquake Control Center in Denver, Colorado. They were 5.6 and 5.7 respectively, enough for people to feel the shake briefly, but that was all.
The information about these shakes had just come in on the teletype. One of these earthquakes was centered at the very tip of the North Fork, in a farm field, where a farmer later said he thought he had driven his tractor into some bushes as a result. He also said that a lot of his farm animals ran around mooing and bleating.
The other earthquake was centered at the very tip of the South Fork, exactly in front of the Montauk Lighthouse. The shaking knocked two pictures off the wall in the main lighthouse room on the ground floor, which is used today as a sort of museum. The pictures were of the Lighthouse, one taken in 1881 and the other in 1904. They were immediately hung back up on the wall, and the Director of the Lighthouse thought nothing else of it. It was thought that maybe a cannon had been fired somewhere or a plane had come in overhead too low. And that was it.
The investigation continues. If anybody has any information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of this evil spray painter, please call 631-537-0500 and leave a message. You will be amply rewarded.