How One Mayor Helped Solve a 55-Year-Old Cold Case

A cold case that has haunted Miami-Dade, Florida for the past 55 years has finally been solved with the help of a former mayor.

Daniel Jess Goldman was just one day shy of his 18th birthday when an unidentified man abducted him at gunpoint from his parents’ Surfside home. The year was 1966. The perpetrator bound both of his parents and demanded a $25,000 ransom for their son. But the Goldmans didn't receive instructions for the exchange and their son Daniel was never seen again.

Paul Novack, an attorney who served six terms as Surfside's mayor, took a personal interest in the case in 2012. He began pouring over details of the kidnapping along with a group of fellow 'sleuths' who try to crack unsolved crimes.

Cold case detective John Grossman says “crucial information” uncovered by the former mayor led them to a man named George Defeis. He was a career criminal with ties to the Trafficante crime family.

The identification shed new light on the nature of the case. Just before Danny Goldman’s abduction, his father Aaron had testified to federal authorities about illegal activities at the bank where he worked. Detectives now believe Daniel’s abduction "was retaliation for Aaron’s cooperation with federal authorities,” Grossman told

Miami-Dade Police declared the case solved on Dec. 28, 2021.

Danny Goldman is presumed dead. Authorities have reason to believe he was murdered by Defeis shortly after exiting the home. His body was then dismembered and dropped into the ocean.

Defeis died in a nursing home in 1980. Danny’s parents are also deceased. They went to the grave never knowing what happened to their son.

With Goldman’s case solved, Novack is now questioning what took so long. The answers were there, the former mayor says, but the original detectives never put them together.

Novack and his team have a disturbing theory. Their website claims Defeis “was closely associated with organized crime figures — and with the Chief of Detectives and Acting Head of Intelligence at the Sheriff’s Office — the very same men who quickly took charge of the kidnapping case.”

“They were both indicted later that same year along with other officials on various criminal charges, but went free without even standing trial because of defectively worded indictments,” according to the site. “We believe the defects were intentionally embedded. That sabotaged the cases in a system that was smothered by corruption. Organized crime, protected by influenced public officials, was able to manipulate all sectors of the system including the courts and law enforcement agencies.”

Novack’s work isn’t finished. He says the Goldman case has opened the door to other unsolved murders in the area. He and his team intend to bring resolution to many more.