Even as he appeals his life sentence in a 2006 stabbing that left a teenage boy dead and a woman injured, neo-Nazi John Ditullio did something remarkable recently from his prison cell.
He confessed to another murder.
Ditullio, his head shaved, his neck covered with new prison tattoos, his dark eyes shiny and intense, boasted about killing a homeless man in 2005 on the TV show I (Almost) Got Away With It, which aired in June on the Investigation Discovery cable network.
The show reports the murder as fact: That a body was found and no one was caught.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said none of it was true — there was never a body or an investigation that led to Ditullio's door, as the show claims. The agency is angry with the network for, they say, glorifying the violent visions of a convicted murderer. On the show, which included dramatic re-enactments, Ditullio, 26, also claimed he cut off the pinkie finger of a man who dishonored the American Nazi Party. The Sheriff's Office said there is no evidence that happened, either.
"It was a fairy tale story," said Lt. Eric Seltzer. "He manipulated them into helping them give him street credit that's not deserved so he can look like a b--a-- in prison."
Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said the agency "probably won't ever work with that television organization again."
When initially contacted by the Tampa Bay Times, Charlotte Bigford, a junior publicist for Discovery Communications Inc., said she thought producers "were just following what Ditullio was saying because it is from his perspective."
Then, David Schaefer, a senior director of communications at Discovery, contacted the Times and said the company refused to comment further. "The external production company is reviewing the matter," Schaefer said in an email.
On the show, Ditullio said the homeless man crashed a neo-Nazi party. He said everyone told the transient to leave, but he kept begging for alcohol.
It angered Ditullio.
"A lot of people have those gears one through five where you can escalate an argument to being angry," Ditullio said on the show. "I don't have those gears. I just go right to five."
The episode showed an actor portraying Ditullio beating the homeless man.
"I remember waking up and I had him by his beard and I was slamming his head into the concrete. I remember the brothers pulling me off of him and I still had chunks of blood and hair in my hands," Ditullio said. "That was one of those times when I totally lost control. I was a maniac."
"I was extremely violent," he said.
Ditullio said the back of the man's head was caved in.
The TV show said Ditullio fled and his Nazi brothers covered the body with branches, but the corpse was discovered the next day by a passerby. The show said there were swastikas spray-painted by the body, which led detectives to interview other neo-Nazis at the compound where Ditullio lived on Teak Street in New Port Richey. The show had an interview with Pasco Sheriff's Capt. John Corbin, who spoke about the difficulty in investigating homicides of transients.
"Ditullio's neo-Nazi brothers tell the police nothing," the show's narrator says. "Crimes against the homeless are often hard to solve and with no other evidence, police have little to go on."
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But the reality is that there was never a body found and Ditullio was never a suspect in any murders other than the one he has been convicted of committing, said Seltzer, who was a detective working on the Teak Street stabbing in 2006, where 17-year-old Kristofer King was killed and Patricia Wells, then 45, was injured but survived. Authorities said the neo-Nazi group hated Wells because she had a black friend and her son was gay. On the night of the attack, King, a friend of Wells' son, was at the house, but her son was not there. Prosecutors believed the attacker thought King was Wells' son.
During Corbin's interview with the show, he was never told of Ditullio's confession to killing a homeless man, but was asked general questions about criminal investigations, Seltzer said, which were then edited to appear as though Corbin was speaking about the alleged murder. Corbin was not able to be reached for this report.
"They took the statement of a convicted killer without double-checking the facts," Tobin said. "It does appear that they did go out of their way to make it look like one of our law enforcement members responded to a question that, in fact, was never asked."
Ditullio's attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, said the new murder confession is "not good."
"I hope that is fiction and not reality," he said. "He does have a very creative mind."
Brunvand said he advised Ditullio not to go on the show. He said Ditullio thought the episode was going to be about his failed escape attempt from the Pasco jail. Brunvand said his client's appeal is still winding its way through the court system and he thinks Ditullio did not commit the Teak Street stabbings.
"I think it's disappointing because it paints him in a very negative light and I hope it doesn't impact the merits of his appeal," Brunvand said. "It shouldn't. But certainly it could impact his ability to get a fair trial with all of that crap out there."
On the show, Ditullio denied stabbing the neighbors of the neo-Nazi compound. "I don't say that I disagree with what happened," Ditullio said. Even though he said he didn't do it, Ditullio gave detailed descriptions of what the attacker did, that he wore a gas mask and "put a knife through the dude's brain." At trial, prosecutors said Ditullio sent the teenage victim's father a Christmas card from jail that said "Hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f------ Christmas."
"Everything that they were doing in that house was wrong," Ditullio said, "and it was only a matter of time before somebody lit that m-----f----- up."
On the show, Ditullio said he craves violence.
"I was born for this, man. It's my life, it's in my genetic code, to be an outlaw," Ditullio said. "One hundred percent, because of my violence, my intense insanity."
He testified at trial that he was a neo-Nazi recruit, but on the show Ditullio said he was a full member and actors re-enacted Ditullio digging his own grave at gunpoint as a final test to become part of the group. On the show, the Teak Street compound looked like it was on a Midwestern farm, with fields and a windmill. In reality, it is a tiny mobile home in a tiny lot surrounded by a chain-link fence behind a Checkers restaurant.
"The whole thing," Seltzer said of the show, "was a joke."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.