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The Real Raffo

Kim Before the Fall

Okay, I took a commenter's advice from the post below and looked up Kim Raffo on Google. And just the second hit is an amazing story in the Star-Ledger about all four victims of the apparent serial killer stalking Atlantic City. In it, the real story on Raffo is told -- and when you read it you know immediately that it wasn't Raffo's death that was extraordinary, it was the fact that she was able to build a decent life at all. From the story authored by Mark Mueller, Tom Feeney, Mary Jo Patterson and Brian Donohue: ---------------------------------------

Kim Raffo almost made it, almost broke the cycle of teen pregnancy, divorce and substance abuse that marked her family's history. ... Raffo's story begins in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, where her father, Robert, recalled meeting her mother, Joan Daniels, in the drug heyday of the early 1970s.

Kim was born in 1971, when her mother was 17. Her parents married and had a second daughter, Marie, six years later. Marie Santos said her father's drinking and drug use "terrorized our entire lives."

Robert Raffo admits battling addiction throughout the girls' childhood. But he says his ex-wife stole from him and "tore this family apart" with her own drinking, a charge Daniels denies.

The couple split in 1988. Daniels moved to Florida with Marie. Kim Raffo and her boyfriend, Hugh Auslander, followed them south and started fresh a year later.

They married and had two children, a girl in 1992 and a boy in 1994, family members said. The couple bought the four-bedroom home in Pembroke Pines, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, in 1996.

While Auslander worked as a carpenter, Raffo minded the kids and her sister's two children. It was a life centered on Girl Scouts, carpools and PTA meetings. -------------------------------------------

How in the world did the Herald leave out that background? It's really the only thing that brings context and sense to the story.

After the jump: The Post Discovers Fane Lozman and Briny Breezes To Blow Up

-- Been meaning to point out this story by William Cooper Jr. in the Palm Beach Post on Riviera Beach activist Fane Lozman, who you're all too familiar with if you read the Pulp. Between my reporting and Francisco Alvarado's pieces in Miami New Times, we'd covered most of what was in it, but Cooper does a decent job cobbling the story together, writes about Lozman's toying with the idea of running for mayor, and gets an interesting quote from Commissioner Liz Wade. Wade gives the reason for turning against Lozman and having him arrested at City Hall: "If you're calling the people around me crooks, then you're aren't too far from calling me one."

All that makes me wonder is, What does she have to hide?

My only real pet peeve with the article is the headline. Lozman is a "bee in bonnet"? Who wrote that thing? Opie Cunningham's great aunt?

-- And, in case you missed it, Eliot Kleinberg tells us about the sale of Briny Breezes, the tiny town that will soon become a grotesque "upscale luxury development." A French-Canadian developer bought it for $510 million -- making the trailer park residents who owned it "instant millionaires," according to Kleinberg.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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