The True Crime Behind the
NY Post Headline
The night of terror started on April 13, 1983.
Charles Dingle, 23, stepped into Herbie's Bar
-- a strip club -- in the Jamaica, Queens neighborhood
of New York City. Jacked up on cocaine, he was drinking
heavily and got into an argument with the owner,
51 year-old Herbert Cummings.
Dingle suddenly pulled a gun and shot Cummings in the head, killing him. Launching a drug and alcohol fueled rampage, he robbed the club's register and took four women hostage, including Cummings wife. He raped one of the women -- a topless dancer -- and robbed the others.
The terrified hostages endured an ordeal that stretched into the early hours of April 14. Finding a business card in one of the victims' purses, Dingle realized she was a mortician.
Obsessed with the idea of police linking his gun with the murder, Dingle forced the mortician to dig the bullet out of the bar owner’s head. She failed to find the bullet, so he forced her to decapitate Cummings with a steak knife. Carrying the severed head in a box filled with party streamer bar decorations and labeled “Fine Wines”, Dingle was ready to flee. But his car wouldn't start.
Dingle called a cab. When the cab driver arrived, Dingle locked him in the back of the bar and stole the cab. He forced two of the women into the car and -- with Cummings' head in the box -- launched out on a terror ride.
He forced one of the women to drive, the box with Cummings' head in the front seat beside her. The horror road trip ended in Manhattan at Broadway and 168th street, where Dingle passed out. The women fled and called police, who arrived to find Dingle and Cummings' head. They wrestled the gun from Dingle without firing a shot and arrested him.
In a non-jury trial a year later, Charles Dingle was convicted of second-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery. Dingle was sentenced to 25 years to life. He has been denied parole three times and continues to serve time in an upstate New York prison, his home for the past 35 years. Dingle insists he is innocent despite numerous eyewitnesses and considerable physical evidence -- including a box labeled "Fine Wines".