CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Family Ties

As cocaine supplies from South America dried up, Charles began to grow desperate for cash. He grew less careful, and he started to leave a trail of evidence for investigators, including this incriminating photo. Courtesy of Russell Holske.

As cocaine supplies from South America dried up, Charles began to grow desperate for cash. He grew less careful, and he started to leave a trail of evidence for investigators, including this incriminating photo. Courtesy of Russell Holske.

Charles “the Ghost” Kennedy and his sister Gloria took very different paths in life. She became a state senator. He became a drug smuggler. And as his empire starts to crumble, the people close to him suffer the consequences.

More on this episode from the Providence Journal →

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Sticking to the issues

Gloria Kennedy Fleck beams as she joins other Democrats in celebrating their victories in November of 1976. Though unendorsed, she was elected the senator for District 15 in Warwick. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/George E. Rooney.

Gloria Kennedy Fleck beams as she joins other Democrats in celebrating their victories in November of 1976. Though unendorsed, she was elected the senator for District 15 in Warwick. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/George E. Rooney.

Gloria addresses the Senate floor after a brutal gang-rape case sent shockwaves throughout New England. Courtesy of Gloria Kennedy Fleck.

Gloria Kennedy Fleck, fourth from right, poses with other state senators. Courtesy of Gloria Kennedy Fleck.

Gloria, pictured here in 1979, campaigned on "bread and butter issues" such as consumer concerns. But, once elected, she worked to strengthen sexual assault laws and protect a woman's right to choose. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Reynold R. Paniccia.

Gloria, pictured here in 1979, campaigned on "bread and butter issues" such as consumer concerns. But, once elected, she worked to strengthen sexual assault laws and protect a woman's right to choose. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Reynold R. Paniccia.

Gloria in 1983, the year she lost her Senate seat. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Rachel Ritchie.

Gloria in 1983, the year she lost her Senate seat. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Rachel Ritchie.


FAMILY TIES

Charles and Gloria Kennedy grew up in a small bungalow house, where they were often at odds as children. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles and Gloria Kennedy grew up in a small bungalow house, where they were often at odds as children. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

It was brother and sister, always clawing for top dominance.
— Charles Kennedy
Charles began to engage in petty theft in the fourth grade. The thrill of providing for his loved ones eventually led him into a life of crime. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles began to engage in petty theft in the fourth grade. The thrill of providing for his loved ones eventually led him into a life of crime. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.


My brother and I were like oil and water.
— Gloria Kennedy Fleck
Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Gloria says there were several reasons she lost her Senate seat, but her brother's criminal activity didn't help. Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

Gloria says there were several reasons she lost her Senate seat, but her brother's criminal activity didn't help. Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.


GUARDING THE CASTLE

Charles was famously cautious. He rarely let guests come to his house, which he called "Castle Dracula," without calling or beeping him first. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles was famously cautious. He rarely let guests come to his house, which he called "Castle Dracula," without calling or beeping him first. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles's chief enforcer Big Al Blamires, second from left, poses between his son Al Jr. and Charles at a New York water park in 1994. From an early age, Al Jr. was going on calls with his father and attending parties at Castle Dracula. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles's chief enforcer Big Al Blamires, second from left, poses between his son Al Jr. and Charles at a New York water park in 1994. From an early age, Al Jr. was going on calls with his father and attending parties at Castle Dracula. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles used counter-surveillance techniques to evade authorities. At times, he wore night-vision goggles to watch out for uninvited visitors at his estate. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles used counter-surveillance techniques to evade authorities. At times, he wore night-vision goggles to watch out for uninvited visitors at his estate. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

This series of home videos offers a glimpse of Charles's life before his downfall. His "unbreakable bond" with his wolves is on full display — from the wolf shrine on the mantle to his close interactions with the wolves in his backyard. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.


He’s calling payphones. Payphones are calling him. So we know that he’s out and about.
— DEA Agent Russell Holske, on Charles Kennedy
Investigators pieced together a timeline of Charles's activities with documentation they found during a raid, including rental car receipts, a speeding ticket, and credit card bills. Courtesy of Russell Holske.

Investigators pieced together a timeline of Charles's activities with documentation they found during a raid, including rental car receipts, a speeding ticket, and credit card bills. Courtesy of Russell Holske.


OPERATION GHOSTBUSTER

Working on a tip from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, DEA agent Russell Holske led a team of investigators to take down Charles's smuggling operation. Courtesy of Russell Holske.

Working on a tip from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, DEA agent Russell Holske led a team of investigators to take down Charles's smuggling operation. Courtesy of Russell Holske.

While raiding Castle Dracula, DEA agents dug up the wolf pen in search of evidence, as the wolves roamed around them. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

While raiding Castle Dracula, DEA agents dug up the wolf pen in search of evidence, as the wolves roamed around them. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

According to Russell Holske, the DEA was persistent in its case against Charles. Documents and photographs were what ultimately brought him down. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

According to Russell Holske, the DEA was persistent in its case against Charles. Documents and photographs were what ultimately brought him down. Courtesy of Charles Kennedy.

Charles is described in this article as the "brother of ex-Senator Gloria Kennedy Fleck." Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

In 1997, Charles pleaded guilty to federal charges related to his cocaine operation. Authorities seized Castle Dracula because the property had been used as a base for drug running. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

In 1997, Charles pleaded guilty to federal charges related to his cocaine operation. Authorities seized Castle Dracula because the property had been used as a base for drug running. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. It is produced by Drew Nelles, Kaitlin Roberts, Austin Mitchell, 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 and Kenny Kusiak. Additional mixing by Enoch Kim. The title track is “Run To Your Mama” by Goat. Original music by John Kusiak, Kenny Kusiak, Otis Clay, Jon Ivans, Edwin and Bienart. 

Ad music is by Matthew Boll. The show's digital editor is Rob Szypko. The design director is Ale Lariu. Archival research by Brennan Rees.This season of Crimetown is dedicated to the memory of Zachary Malinowski. Thanks to the the Providence Journal, Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Lisa Newby, Kate Wells, Mary Murphy, Dan Barry, Pat McNulty, Brian Andrews, and everybody who shared their stories with us. Providence is a special place, and we're honored to tell a part of its story.

Ale LariuEpisode Fifteen