CHAPTER TEN

The Ghost

As a thief and a drug smuggler, Charles Kennedy earned the nickname "the Ghost" because he was so hard to catch. He also became famous for the pack of pet wolves he kept on his property. All photos courtesy of Charles Kennedy unless otherwise noted.

As a thief and a drug smuggler, Charles Kennedy earned the nickname "the Ghost" because he was so hard to catch. He also became famous for the pack of pet wolves he kept on his property. All photos courtesy of Charles Kennedy unless otherwise noted.

After a lucrative career as a thief, Charles Kennedy has an important realization: the real money is in drugs. He rises to become one of the East Coast’s biggest traffickers, throwing coke-fueled parties and amassing a strange menagerie of pets. But his success attracts the wrong kind of attention.

More on this episode from the Providence Journal →

LISTEN TO CHAPTER TEN


THE YOUNG thief

Charles poses in a Boy Scout uniform outside his family home. He began shoplifting at a very early age.

Charles poses in a Boy Scout uniform outside his family home. He began shoplifting at a very early age.

Charles as a teenager with his family dog. According to Charles, the dog was once picked up by animal control, so Charles went to the pound, found the dog, picked the kennel's lock and set him free. By the time Charles was 18, he had already earned a reputation as a clever young thief. 

Charles as a teenager with his family dog. According to Charles, the dog was once picked up by animal control, so Charles went to the pound, found the dog, picked the kennel's lock and set him free. By the time Charles was 18, he had already earned a reputation as a clever young thief. 


JOINING THE MOB

Gerard Ouimette was one of the most powerful figures in the New England mob. While incarcerated in the Adult Correctional Institutions, he ran the prison for Raymond Patriarca. When Ouimette heard about Charles's talents as a criminal, he asked him to help smuggle Scotch into the ACI.

Gerard Ouimette was one of the most powerful figures in the New England mob. While incarcerated in the Adult Correctional Institutions, he ran the prison for Raymond Patriarca. When Ouimette heard about Charles's talents as a criminal, he asked him to help smuggle Scotch into the ACI.

Charles (center) with Gerard Ouimette's brother, John (left), at the Adult Correctional Institutions. John was a prisoner at the time, along with Ronnie Sweet (right). John and Ronnie are drinking rum that Charles smuggled into maximum security.

Charles (center) with Gerard Ouimette's brother, John (left), at the Adult Correctional Institutions. John was a prisoner at the time, along with Ronnie Sweet (right). John and Ronnie are drinking rum that Charles smuggled into maximum security.


CHARLES "THE GHOST" KENNEDY

Burglar, drug dealer and drug smuggler


My first impression of Charles was a cross between an illegal James Bond and Dracula.
— Michelle
Charles at a medieval fair in Massachusetts. 

Charles at a medieval fair in Massachusetts. 

While working at the Foxy Lady in Providence, Michelle met celebrities, high profile brokers, attorneys, and Rhode Island mobsters who frequented the establishment — including Charles Kennedy. Courtesy of Michelle.

While working at the Foxy Lady in Providence, Michelle met celebrities, high profile brokers, attorneys, and Rhode Island mobsters who frequented the establishment — including Charles Kennedy. Courtesy of Michelle.

The money Charles earned from drug trafficking allowed him to buy expensive suits, jewelry, cars and an extravagant home.

The money Charles earned from drug trafficking allowed him to buy expensive suits, jewelry, cars and an extravagant home.


"BIG AL" BLAMIRES

Enforcer and street dealer


Big Al, second from left, poses next to Charles at a New York water park in the summer of 1994. At six foot two and 285 pounds, Big Al was Charles's chief enforcer.

Big Al, second from left, poses next to Charles at a New York water park in the summer of 1994. At six foot two and 285 pounds, Big Al was Charles's chief enforcer.

 
I was making 10, 15 thousand a week. It was unbelievable.
— AL, ON DEALING COCAINE
 

CASTLE DRACULA

When Charles was 8 years old, a family friend took him fishing at a large estate in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Charles was enamored with the property, pictured above, and, years later, he purchased it for himself.

When Charles was 8 years old, a family friend took him fishing at a large estate in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Charles was enamored with the property, pictured above, and, years later, he purchased it for himself.

The backyard of Charles's house, where he used to throw extravagant parties. 

The backyard of Charles's house, where he used to throw extravagant parties. 

The property in East Greenwich was surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, making it hard to surveil. The Drug Enforcement Administration still found ways to keep tabs on him, however, taking aerial photographs such as the one above.

The property in East Greenwich was surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, making it hard to surveil. The Drug Enforcement Administration still found ways to keep tabs on him, however, taking aerial photographs such as the one above.

A DEA surveillance photograph of Charles Kennedy leaving his home in 1984.

A DEA surveillance photograph of Charles Kennedy leaving his home in 1984.


THE WOLVES

Charles bought wolves from a breeder in Maine. He says that he bonded deeply with them, even bottle-feeding pups (top left). He kept the wolves fenced off in a large kennel in his backyard (above), but they often escaped. Once, a wolf ate his neighbor's dog.

Charles bought wolves from a breeder in Maine. He says that he bonded deeply with them, even bottle-feeding pups (top left). He kept the wolves fenced off in a large kennel in his backyard (above), but they often escaped. Once, a wolf ate his neighbor's dog.


I loved to be up close with the wolves. The bond was unbreakable.
— Charles

Charles used to call the wolves his "kids." Eventually, in addition to being nicknamed "the Ghost," he earned another nickname: "Wolf."

Charles used to call the wolves his "kids." Eventually, in addition to being nicknamed "the Ghost," he earned another nickname: "Wolf."

Charles's favorite wolf was a female named Tatiana (above). He claims that Tatiana was shot by the police when she escaped from the kennel one night. 

Charles's favorite wolf was a female named Tatiana (above). He claims that Tatiana was shot by the police when she escaped from the kennel one night. 

Charles sometimes let the wolves out at night and ran with them through the yard.

Charles sometimes let the wolves out at night and ran with them through the yard.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. It is produced by Drew Nelles, Austin Mitchell, Kaitlin Roberts and Mike Plunkett. The associate producer is Laura Sim. The show is edited by Alex Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney. Fact-checking by Mick Rouse. This episode of Crimetown was mixed, sound designed and scored by Matthew Boll. Additional mixing by Martin Peralta, Enoch Kim and Kenny Kuziak. Additional sound design by Ted Robinson at Silver Sound. Our title track is "Run to Your Mama" by Goat. The opera music is "Un ballo in maschera: Morrò, ma prima in grazia." The opera music is performed by Melanie Henley Heyn and the Slovak National Opera Orchestra.

It is conducted by Peter Valentovic, recorded by Jesse Lewis and composed by Giuseppe Verdi. The credit music this week is "Full Blown Addict" by The Tills. Our ad music is by Matthew Boll. Original music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kuziak, Jon Ivans, Edwin and Bienart. Our digital editor is Kate Parkinson-Morgan. Our design director is Ale Lariu. This season of Crimetown is dedicated to the memory of Zachary Malinowski. Thanks to the Providence Journal, Greg Mallozzi, Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Lisa Newby, Mary Murphy and everyone who shared their stories with us. Providence is a special place, and we're honored to tell a part of its story. 

Ale LariuEpisode Ten