A Robbery Gone Wrong Resulted in Three Deaths — Let's Revisit the Carnegie Deli Massacre

"It’s a white girl who deals weed to a lot of people in the music industry. He said it’ll be easy, no trouble, no weapon."

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Mar. 19 2024, Published 3:08 p.m. ET

The outside of the Carnegie Deli
Source: Getty Images

Actor Jennifer Stahl has five credits on her IMDB page. Out of the five, only one is a role where she actually had a character name. The others are vague descriptions such as "Woman with Professor Bob" or "Girl with Whipped Cream." The most notable movie in which Stahl played a part is the 1987 classic Dirty Dancing. And while she still didn't have a name — Stahl is merely one of the dirty dancers — you could conjure up an image of her gyrating in the background if pressed.

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Sadly Stahl is also remembered for a far more gruesome reason, her death. In May 2001 she was murdered in her New York City apartment along with four other individuals. This horrific crime would eventually be known as the Carnegie Deli Massacre due to the fact that she lived above the popular restaurant. How did someone fall so far from being in a hit film? Here's what we know about the Carnegie Deli Massacre.

The people who died in the Carnegie Deli Massacre were shot execution style.

Barbara Coleman was a friend of Stahl's and as she told Oxygen, it made sense that the actor was also a successful drug dealer. "Every performer has a side business," she said. "They have to." Stahl was dealing marijuana out of the apartment that was directly above one of New York's most famous delis. Most of her clients were in the entertainment industry. It was easier to hide the amount of people coming and going when the restaurant below was crowded most of the time.

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Jennifer Stahl leaning out a window
Source: Netflix

According to CBS News, on May 10, 2001, there were four people besides Stahl in her apartment. Stephen King, 32, of Manhattan (no relation to the A author), Charles Helliwell, 36, of Boston, Rosemond Dane, 37, of the Virgin Islands, and Anthony Veader, 37, a Manhattan hairdresser were presumably there to purchase drugs. By the end of the day, three of the five would be dead.

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Two days prior in Newark, N.J., a man named Andre Smith was introduced to Sean Salley. Smith was loudly complaining about needing cash so Salley suggested they rob someone. Salley knew about Stahl's business and decided she was an easy target. "It’s a white girl who deals weed to a lot of people in the music industry. He said it’ll be easy, no trouble, no weapon," Smith later told police. "There’s no guard – we’ll be in and out."

Then, 48 hours after the initial conversation, Smith and Salley were walking up the stairs to Stahl's sixth-floor apartment. When Stahl opened her door, she was forced back into her apartment while the robbers tied up the four other people inside. Smith claims he heard a gunshot and asked Salley, "What did you do?" He shot Stahl in another room and then did the same to the four bound individuals. Smith and Salley then stole $1,000 in cash and six ounces of pot.

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Where are Andre Smith and Sean Salley now?

While being interrogated, Smith told investigators that Smith said killing Stahl was an accident. The same couldn't be said for the others who evidently died because they knew Salley. Stahl, Helliwell, and King were killed but Veader and Dane survived. Police immediately named Smith and Salley as suspects which caused Smith to turn himself in two weeks later, per Untapped Cities. After being featured on an episode of America's Most Wanted, Salley was caught three weeks later.

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In June 2002, they were both found guilty of "multiple counts of murder and robbery," reported CBS News. Smith and Salley were tried separately with different juries, neither sure of who actually pulled the trigger despite Smith's claim that it was Salley. "It was very difficult to convict Smith; we did not necessarily believe that he was the shooter," said one juror after his trial.

A month after their conviction, a judge sentenced Smith and Salley to "120 years in prison: 25 years for each of the three murders, 30 years for the robbery convictions, and 15 years for criminal possession of a weapon," to be served consecutively, via The St. Thomas Source. Rosemond Dane, one of the victims who lived, was in court. "I'm here today strong enough to fight back … but they had no mercy," she told the judge.

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