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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"This Was No Accident," Bob Cassilly's Widow Says

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 6:46 AM

Page 4 of 4

click to enlarge Giovanna Cassilly took this photo of her husband. - PHOTO BY GIOVANNA CASSILLY
  • PHOTO BY GIOVANNA CASSILLY
  • Giovanna Cassilly took this photo of her husband.

On August 22, 2014, there was a fire at Cementland, and the 40,000-square-foot building that held much of Bob Cassilly's commercial artwork (as well as some larger pieces of fine art) burned.

Because the administrator appointed by probate court had allowed property insurance to lapse, there was never a formal investigation into what caused the blaze. Until, that is, this spring. That's when Giovanna Cassilly hired attorney Watkins to help her with the ongoing probate case, as well as assistance pushing her concerns about her husband's death.

Watkins hired a certified fire inspector named John L. Scheper. In a two-page report, Scheper concluded that the fire was no accident. An accelerant had been used, leading to “uniform and catastrophic damage thru-out the structure.”

Additionally, Scheper wrote, some of Bob Cassilly’s most valuable molds had been removed from the warehouse prior to the blaze. “Based upon the provided inventory of the room contents, and the eye-witness accounts of the property care takers, nearly 50 percent of the molds were removed prior to the fire,” he concluded.

To Watkins, the blaze is just one more suspicious incident in a long list. “Once the expert-laden investigation was able to conclusively determine the fire at Cementland was arson, several pieces to the proverbial puzzle fell into place, including the reality that the fire was set to obscure the theft of priceless and irreplaceable artistic molds created by the hands of Bob Cassilly.

“The sequence of events leading up to the sudden death of Robert Cassilly Jr. is otherworldly. The events following the sudden death of Robert Cassilly, Jr. are otherworldly. Given the otherworldly nature of Cementland itself, there is a certain sense of poetic justice which enshrouds the saga,” he says.

Of his client, he says, “Giovanna’s punctilious attention to detail has been invaluable to those seeking to reconcile the events. Giovanna and her lawyers will continue to assist all law enforcement agencies, bureaus and forces involved. This obviously includes sharing findings arising out of Giovanna’s self-funded investigative undertakings. I pity those who until recently may have felt their actions would forever go undetected.”

Giovanna has set up a hotline and an email address in hopes that anyone with information about her husband, Cementland or the warehouse fire will get in touch. She's asking people to email justiceforbobcassilly@gmail.com or call 314-578-5347.

She's willing to share reports with anyone who wants to read them. And if anyone wants to examine it, she still has the bulldozer.

She recently completed the purchase of Cementland from her husband's estate, a long process thanks to the probate court's involvement. She wants to preserve her husband's legacy by finding a way to finish his master work.

But she also wants to preserve what she's convinced is a crime scene.

“I'm sick to my stomach thinking there are murderers out there who thought they got away with this,” she says. “I will gladly let somebody, anybody, come and see this, and read these reports. We need help.”

click to enlarge Another view of Cassilly's final resting place. After his body was found, workers brought the piece of equipment at left to keep it from falling. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERT WATKINS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERT WATKINS
  • Another view of Cassilly's final resting place. After his body was found, workers brought the piece of equipment at left to keep it from falling.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com.

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