Let's Not Forget Michael Alig Brutally Murdered and Dismembered Angel Melendez, Then Bragged About It For Months
Michael Alig was released from prison last week. In the months leading up to his release, and the days since, Alig has been interviewed by Vanity Fair.com, People.com, Huffington Post Live, Inside Edition, Rolling Stone, Deadspin and The Daily Beast. He's scored writing gigs for the New York Post, World of Wonder, and the UK's Gay Times too.
He's been received as a celebrity, while the young man he robbed, murdered, dismembered, and, for months, bragged about killing, has been reduced to a mere footnote.
On Thursday, the New York Times delivered its own profile of Alig. That one describes how Alig was scooped up from Mid-State Correctional Facility last Monday in a 15-person party van filled with drunk revelers. One joked: "We were going to bring a Fisher-Price plastic hammer."
A hammer was the weapon Robert "Freez" Riggs used to hit Angel Melendez over the head, incapacitating but not killing him. It was Alig, his fist wrapped in a sweatshirt, pummeling an unconscious Melendez over and over and over again, that actually finished him off.
The pair then lifted Melendez's lifeless body into the bathtub of the luxury apartment paid for by Alig's boss, club impresario Peter Gatien, and doused it in Drano, baking soda and a few liberal spritzes of Calvin Klein Eternity. They left it there for "eight or nine days" before chopping Melendez's body into pieces, and throwing them into the Hudson.
The details are fresh in my mind because Alig rehashed them in a piece he wrote for the Post on Monday. It's the same piece in which he characterizes the murder as "a silly, pushy catfight" that started when Riggs poked fun at Melendez's captain hat.
Since his release, there has been a lot of reminiscing about who Alig was before prison -- "king of the Club Kids" -- and much talk about his post-prison plans -- reality shows, a memoir, an art exhibition -- but there has been embarrassingly little mention of the man Alig killed eighteen years ago.
Angel Melendez was once described as a "quiet boy, very shy" who, before falling in with the club crowd, dreamed of becoming an actor and filmmaker. But he was never fully accepted by Alig and his friends, which Alig himself admits several times in his Post piece. Just before he and Riggs beat Melendez to death, Alig recalls Riggs yelling to Melendez: "We only let you hang out with us because you have drugs!"
The night before he murdered Melendez, Alig also remembers instructing bouncers at the Limelight to turn Melendez away from the door, even while admitting he owed Melendez money ("several nights' wages") that was kept in the club safe.
Alig's memory is contradicted by media reports from the time. In his 1996 piece "Murder in Clubland" the Voice's Frank Owen reported Alig stole as much as $20,000 dollars from Melendez before and after beating him to death.
According to contacts in the Gatien camp, the conflict with Angel began months earlier when Alig stole $2,000 from the drug dealer... When Angel disappeared, Alig reportedly stole an additional $18,000 from the absent drug dealer's stash--which he used to refurnish his luxury apartment.
That's not the only discrepancy between Alig's recollection, and those of his associates at the time. Consider his response when a Times reporter asked Alig if he thinks of himself as a murderer:
'No,' Mr. Ailg said the other week before his release. 'I think of myself as a drug addict who made some really, really, really poor choices, like the worst choices ever. But I wouldn't say I'm a murderer because we didn't wake up that day and say, "Let's go kill Angel."' He laughed at that. 'I mean, you know, the distinction, it's very slight. But in another way, it's like night and day.'
Except that, again, according to reports at the time, he did say that. Owen wrote: "One club kid remembers that two days before Angel disappeared, Alig was in the middle of a coke binge when he started telling friends--jokingly, perhaps--'I want to kill Angel, I want to kill Angel.'"