Rita Gigante on her first birthday in her father’s arms “He controlled everything,” says Rita, now 46.“Even if he didn’t do all the horrible things himself, he directly ordered others to do them.” He certainly ordered the murder of his rival, the head of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti, in 1986.
In reality, Olympia ran the new house alone while Vincent stayed behind in the city, living with his mother – and running the nation’s most powerful organised crime syndicate.
“Looking back, I am certain it was best for me, growing up out here away from all of that,” Rita says.
There were no large cars, exotic holidays or other gaudy symbols of wealth.
“My parents both came from very poor Italian-immigrant families, so were conscious and careful with money.
“I didn’t understand what I had just seen, or the implications of it, but I know that it traumatised me and shook me to my core,” says Rita today.
“I tried for years to bury that memory, because it made me so afraid.” Instilling fear in others was her father’s modus operandi.Behind them trails Angel, their fluffy white three-legged mongrel, a refugee from the Chilean earthquake, who was rescued by a friend.Both are gentle and solicitous, and it comes as no surprise to learn that Bobbi is a nurse and that Rita now works as a “healer”, helping others work through their emotional and spiritual difficulties using reiki, massage therapy and readings.Rita Gigante’s first vivid memory of her father is not the stuff of cosy familial nostalgia.Aged just five, she was playing alone under the dining-table in her grandmother’s cramped apartment, unseen by the group of men in the room, when suddenly their voices stopped and one man hit the floor with a thud.At the time, Rita assumed that it was entirely normal.