THE CRIME WAS HORRIFYING, BY ANY measure. Little more than five years ago, on March 3, 1989, Kelly Tinyes, 13, a popular eighth grader, was murdered by 21-year-old Robert Golub, an unemployed bodybuilder who lured her to his home in mid-afternoon. There he strangled, stabbed and mutilated her, stuffing her into a garbage sack, which he hid in a 10-foot-by-7-foot basement room. Her body was found the next day. The Tinyeses and the Golubs were neighbors then, living just five houses apart on Horton Road in Valley Stream, N.Y.—and they are neighbors now, locked in a test of wills and mutual hatred.
The continuing presence of each family serves as a daily reminder of pain and loss to the other. John Golub, 62, and his wife, Elizabeth, 53, still believe—despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary—that Robert, now serving a 25-year-to-life sentence at an upstate prison, is innocent. For Richie Tinyes, 40, his wife, Vicki, 39, and their son, Richie Jr., 13, the process of mourning has been made doubly difficult by having to face the taunts of the murderer’s angry family. As a result, shouting matches and petty harassment have become a way of life on this once tranquil street on suburban Long Island. “It’s oil and fire. Keep pulling them together and you’re going to have an explosion,” says retired Nassau County detective Richard Wells, 53, who investigated the murder. “They live every day by emotion.”
Still, neither side wants to leave Horton Road. While Golub, who owns a nearby Getty gas station, says he would sell his house for the right price, he complains about the depressed real estate market. “I can’t afford to give this house away,” he says. “I went through a lot of money. My old Rolls-Royce? Gone. IRA? Gone. The house is all I have left.”
Richie Tinyes, who owns a local auto-body shop, also insists on staying put. After all, says Richie, who has lived in his house since fifth grade, “we’re the victims here. Why should we leave?”
The stalemate, police say, has resulted in more than 100 complaints from the families about each other—and dozens more from the neighbors. There have been half a dozen arrests on complaints from both parties and one trial. In 1994, Golub was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and assault for allegedly ramming the back of Richie Tinyes’s pickup truck on Horton Road. At the trial, he admitted throwing rocks at Vicki, flinging an obscenity at her and calling Richie, who has gained 60 pounds since his daughter’s death, “a fat f—king slob.” Nevertheless he was acquitted after explaining that he was afraid of the Tinyeses. More recently, Golub faced charges of assault for steering his car onto the Tinyeses’ lawn, narrowly missing Vicki. He claims he was reacting when she turned her hose on his car—an accusation she denies. Those charges were dropped May 2 for lack of evidence.
The troubles on Horton Road began immediately after Kelly’s murder. “We watched John Jay [Robert’s 14-year-old brother] on the news, laughing and waving from his window,” says Richie Tinyes. “It was like a big joke to him. The Golubs said nothing to us. Any parent that had any feelings would at least have sent word to us, but no, nothing at all.”
At the time the Golubs were under siege. A week after Kelly’s funeral, a crowd, angry that Robert had not yet been arrested, stood outside their house for hours, screaming, “Murderers! Devils! Get out!” But when things quieted down, the tables turned. As the Tinyeses tell it, John Golub began making vulgar gestures and shouting obscenities at them—something that they and their neighbors say has never stopped. “John Golub will yell at Richie, ‘You fat f—king whale!’ And he’ll yell at me, ‘You whore!’ ” says Vicki Tinyes. “Horrible things.” Sometimes, say the Tinyeses, Golub, just to taunt them, suggests that he himself was involved in the murder. “Golub says, ‘I killed Kelly, and I helped clean up the basement too,’ ” claims Vicki. “And Liz Golub yells, ‘You belong with your daughter. She should have never been there.’ ” Other Horton Road regulars have witnessed the Golubs slinging these insults.
Thickening the tension between the two families even more is the fact that the Tinyeses continue to petition authorities to reopen the murder investigation and focus on the Golubs’ younger son, John Jay (now 20 and attending Fairfield University in Connecticut), who was upstairs in his room with friends at the time of the killing. Although the police initially labeled the boy a suspect, they never charged him and say there was no evidence to link him to the murder. The Tinyeses’ attempts, it seems, have been to no avail. Says Richie Tinyes: “To my dying day, I’m going to fight this.”
The Golubs, for their part, insist that they are the injured parties in the Horton Road feud. John Golub claims that sympathizers of the Tinyeses have doused his car with paint, thrown garbage on his lawn, set off a cherry bomb in his yard and deposited dog droppings in his mailbox. Of the Tinyeses he says, “In the beginning, I cried for them. But yell at me, I’ll yell back. Spit in my face, I’ll spit back.”
Most neighbors side with the Tinyeses and seem appalled by the Golubs’ lack of contrition. “My kids get upset,” says Pam Deluca, who lives across the street. “But I tell them to ignore the Golubs. I tell them life is unfair, but you have to roll with the punches. We don’t tell them to hate. We say, ‘Tolerate them and try to understand.”
Meanwhile the Golubs and the Tinyeses pay lip service to the notion of peace. “We want a truce,” insists Golub. “My wife and I just want to be able to walk in and out of this house without a problem.” In her heart, Vicki Tinyes realizes that the squabbles are simply distractions. “After all, anything that has happened since Kelly’s death doesn’t mean a thing,” she says. “This is nothing compared to the pain of losing her. Still, I wish they would go somewhere else. I wish it would end.”
MARIA EFTIMIADES in Valley Stream