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August 7, 2023 28 mins

The prosecutors arrive in Las Vegas to interview The Girlfriends.  Hearing the stories from Bob’s time in Vegas, they become convinced that he murdered Gail. But in an attempt to make their argument water tight, they uncover a catastrophic mistake that was made back in 1989, putting their investigation at risk. 

If you are affected by any of our topics please reach out to NO MORE at https://nomore.org/girlfriends, a domestic violence charity we’ve partnered with.  

The Girlfriends is produced by Novel for iHeartRadio.

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Listen to our soundtrack on Spotify here or buy the album from Bandcamp. All proceeds go to our charity partner NoMore.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:06):
Novel.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Hey listener, in this episode, we talk about domestic violence,
cancer and disposing of a body. But you also get
to hear our club really come to life, and you
know that you've really been waiting for that. And of course,
just a warning, a little more of my swearing. If
you do listen and are impacted by any of our themes,

(00:34):
you can reach out to No More, a domestic violence
charity we've partnered with. They have lots of great resources
to help you or your loved ones. You can find
them at no More dot org. That's no mor dot org.

(00:55):
Remember Stephanie Youngblood, the fiance who met Bob at the
New Year's Eve party back in nineteen eighty nine. She's
the only regular member of our club that you haven't
heard from directly. The sad reason is that Stephanie died
from cancer in twenty twenty two, just before this podcast
went into production. Stephanie was a core member of our

(01:16):
club and she dated about the longest of all of us,
around three years. But I never really knew what led
to their breakup until Stephanie first joined us at the Mayflower,
And I think it's time you found out too.

Speaker 3 (01:32):
I thought that he was weird.

Speaker 2 (01:34):
This is Stephanie's best friend, Gina. She saw it all
go down.

Speaker 3 (01:38):
Bob had to one up you, no matter what it was,
no matter what you said, if you ordered a certain
bottle of wine, there was another one that was better.
He was smarter, he was better educated, no matter what
it was.

Speaker 2 (01:51):
At first, Stephanie gave Gina the same report everyone gives
up Bob. Magical dates, flying above the desert, great food, skiing,
so smart, YadA, YadA YadA.

Speaker 3 (02:02):
I mean, who wouldn't want that on your repertoire. But
the way he acted didn't fit any of that to me.

Speaker 2 (02:10):
There was one particular trip with Bob that raised alarm
bells for Gina. They had gone skied in Argentina with
a group of doctors and Gina started to feel sick.

Speaker 3 (02:20):
So I called her room. I said, Stephanie, I'm not
feeling really good. My stomach hurts. She said, come by
the room. So I knocked on her door and he
was there and had like a little mini hissy fit,
like who's this intruder? I felt that I was intruding,

(02:40):
and I was a very bad moment that I should
not have been there. And he picked up his clothes
or something, and kind of stalked and stormed out of
the room. And I remember, I said, Stephanie, I wouldn't
have come now. I mean, you know, you should have
told me. She goes, no, that's fine, that's just Bob being.

Speaker 2 (03:03):
This left a bad taste in Gina's mouth. She had
previously been married to a guy just like that, and
she knows firsthand what those temper tantrums can develop into.
So she told Stephanie that Bob reminded her of her ex,
who'd fly off the handle at anything, who got so
irate during a dinner that he chucked a pepper grinder
into the swimming pool, who once locked her in the bathroom,

(03:27):
and who eventually tried to throw her off a boat.
But Stephanie did not want to hear Gina's warnings. Instead,
she kept dating Bob, just like how I kept dating him,
like Gail did, and like Gina did with her husband.
As time went on, Stephanie saw Bob's outburst get worse,

(03:49):
like the time Stephanie, Bob, and a friend were having
dinner on a boat. Stephanie had requested a bottle of
red wine, but when the waiter brought it over, they
accidentally sprayed the wine all over the time table. It
infuriated Bob. He turned to Stephanie with these intense laser
eyes and started raging on her like it was all
her fault. She was terrified.

Speaker 3 (04:12):
Everybody was like, there's something not quite right with this dude.

Speaker 2 (04:18):
Following his outburst, Stephanie couldn't look at Bob in the
same way. He'd always been a little controlling, but the
way he exploded, the way he looked at her, it
unlocked a new fear. Ultimately, though, she wanted to fix him,
so she demanded that they go to see a couple's therapists.

(04:38):
But after just one session, the therapist spoke with Stephanie
privately and told her that there were significant problems with
their relationship and warned her that her life might be
in danger.

Speaker 3 (04:50):
Remind you of anything, Stephanie said, There's just something wrong
with him. Had to control everything that they did, what
they ate, where they went, and she said, I got
to get away from it. I got to figure out
how to get away from it.

Speaker 2 (05:14):
From that point on, Stephanie started to build a plan
to leave Bob. One day, when she was leaving town
for a seminar, she told Bob it was over.

Speaker 3 (05:23):
And I think it really came down to I'm going
to be gone. I want you out by the time
I get back. That was how she told me. I
said good.

Speaker 2 (05:32):
And that's how Stephanie earned her seat at the Harriet
the Spy Club, a club that was half ridiculous girl
talk and half camaraderie, a sisterhood, a place for women
to get together, drink wine and tear their ex boyfriend
to shreds.

Speaker 3 (05:48):
She was always excited about it. You know, it was fun.
They would go have a glass of wine or meat
for coffee. They would shoot the discs. I mean, they
would talk about all the things they did in compare notes.
I think it was good too, because for her, she
wasn't the only one.

Speaker 2 (06:05):
We miss you, Stephanie, and I still can't believe that
all of our gossip being became part of a multi
state investigation. Wait a minute, you all don't know about
that yet. I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm Carol Fisher
and from the teams at Novel and iHeartRadio. You're listening

(06:27):
to the Girlfriends episode six Women who Like to Gab.

Speaker 1 (07:03):
When you pick up a cold case, the first thing
you do is you redo everything that's been done in
the past, no matter how old it is, no matter
what's been done, you do it over again.

Speaker 2 (07:14):
This is Dan Bibb, one of the DA prosecutors assigned
to Gaile's cold case.

Speaker 1 (07:19):
Even if someone who's been spoken to says they don't
remember or they don't know, a lot of people lie.
And there were many cases I picked up where people
were I don't know, I don't know what you're talking about,
and ten fifteen years later they've straightened their acts out
and now willing to tell you what happened. It's a rule,

(07:42):
you redo everything that's been done in the past, and
that's what we did. Who took every report what's called
a DD five, it's a Detective division report, and if
there was a witness interviewed, we redid that interview.

Speaker 2 (07:55):
And when Dan says they reinterviewed everyone, he means it.
We've seen in the files. There's a lane, Denise, Gail's brother, Steve,
the doorman at Gail's apartment, Gail's colleagues, and her fellow students,
and they also spoke to the two guys Gail was
dating on the side, Anthony Sagalis and Kenneth Feiner.

Speaker 1 (08:17):
If the husband didn't do it, maybe one of the
boyfriends did. Sigallais and Finer couldn't have been more different people.
Sigallas a little bit brash, you know, businessman, Finer this
soft spoken psychologist. Yeah, Finer and Sigallis they weren't killers. Oh.

Speaker 2 (08:40):
Next, Dan and his partner Steve had to figure out
what Bob had been up to over the past ten years,
which is when these two poker loving, steak eating, luxury
hotel staying prosecutors first touchdown in Sin City. One of

(09:03):
the first people they spoke to when they arrived in
nineteen ninety eight was Scott Behrenoff, Bob's childhood friend from
New Jersey, who had convinced Bob to join him in
Las Vegas.

Speaker 4 (09:13):
He's like a mahogany tan, like golden curl, nice looking guy.

Speaker 1 (09:18):
He's got pictures on the wall of him and all
these casino owners, you know, and all the casino owners
are in his seventies and eighties.

Speaker 4 (09:24):
The guy says they're eighty years old. They got twenty
five year old girlfriends. At these casino openings. You'll see
me on one side and the cardiologist on the other.

Speaker 1 (09:33):
I'm like, what he goes, Yeah, yeah, yeah. The cardiologists
keep them alive in the neurologist keep them pissing and fucking.
And I nearly fell out of my chair it was
laughing so hard.

Speaker 2 (09:44):
Once the medical bro talk was over, Scott started spouting
loads of stuff about his old buddy Bob and the
things they used to do back in New York, like
the time Bob dropped in at Scott's mom's house after
his nephew's party. The day the Gale went missing.

Speaker 4 (10:00):
Doctor Brenbaum told doctor Barnolf, Gail's missing, what should I do?
And that's when Bernbaum reporter and missing.

Speaker 2 (10:07):
The next day they spoke to Ernie Sussman too, a
local urologist who Bob befriended after he gave him flying lessons.

Speaker 5 (10:17):
I had no idea he was married.

Speaker 1 (10:20):
Wow, that's amazing that that never came up.

Speaker 5 (10:23):
Yeah, and I wouldn't ask now. If guys volunteer stuff, great,
I mean, unless I'm asked, I'm not going to start
talking somebody's ear off about my past and my relationships.
So yeah, I think it's a guy thing. I mean,
most guys don't start gabbing now. They gat too much
about their past, and I'm a little suspect, and that's
sure I want to be around them anyway.

Speaker 2 (10:45):
The guys just didn't really know much about Bob or Gail.
They didn't ask.

Speaker 1 (10:51):
It was like the guys, it's like, yeah, I remember,
he told me his wife disappeared one day. He never
saw her again. So you're a guy, you're not going
to drill down and say, Jess, Bob with how happened?
You know, he's all right, Well, he probably walk away
thinking did he kill her.

Speaker 2 (11:08):
It was becoming clear that if the prosecutors were going
to get anywhere with the Vegas interviews, they needed to
come to the people who knew Bob best in this town,
the women who did like to gab, the girlfriends blessed
Dan and Steve. They really had no idea how much

(11:28):
we had been preparing for this. The first member of

(11:52):
the club to get the call with Stephanie Youngblood. She
invited Dan and Steve straight to her office.

Speaker 4 (11:59):
She was the chiropractic who said that his engagement ring
was the gift that keeps on giving. I think he
was engaged to like three or four different women in
Las Vegas. He dated the entire Jewish professional community.

Speaker 2 (12:11):
What they really wanted to know was what Bob had
said about Gail.

Speaker 4 (12:15):
She was aware that he was previously married, that his
wife had disappeared, and I know that he had given
to her an account as to what he thought had
happened to Gail.

Speaker 2 (12:28):
In fact, when Stephanie first met Bob, he told her
that he had never been married before. But then Stephanie
started noticing that some male was addressed to Bob and
Gail Berenbaum. She also found a trunk with luggage tags
that had Gail's name on it, the same trunk I saw.

(12:51):
Stephanie shared all of this with her friend Gina.

Speaker 3 (12:54):
She said he didn't have any good explanations for it,
other than his wife had gone singing, and she was
wondering why he still had papers and bills and things
like that. They're in a Las Vegas house when he
came from New York years before.

Speaker 2 (13:13):
When Stephanie repeatedly asked Bob who Gail was, he welled
up and said it was hard to explain. Then he
told her his story that she went to Central Park
and never came back. He said it was upsetting me
because during the investigation he found out she had a
drug problem and that she was having extramarital affairs. These

(13:35):
are the details Dan and Steve were looking for.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
It was the common theme the argument, walking out, going
to the party again. There were a number of lies
and embellishments, but it was also the fact that he
had this horrendous temper and fly off the handle at
the drop of a hat, and almost nothing.

Speaker 2 (14:05):
After Stephanie's interview, she called me and said she'd give
him my number out to Dan and Steve and they
want to interview me too. She said, they're opening this
case back up. They really want Bob and they believe
that we all independently have enough information to help put
him away. Let me be honest here. I was kind

(14:27):
of on the fence about meeting them. It was fun
gossiping with the girls at the Mayflower restaurant, but this
all sounded a bit too serious. Thinking back, I just
wanted this to go away and not have to accept
the fact that I might have dated someone capable of
murdering his wife. So I said I would only meet

(14:47):
with them if it could be at Stephanie's office. When
we met, I told them all about my relationship with Bob,
the glass breaking story and that wild siphless accusation. The
one they really loved was the moment when I said,
what did you do murder your wife?

Speaker 4 (15:06):
He doesn't respond, doesn't what are you talking about, Carolyn?
He just drops his head. And that comes in as
an omission by silence, where it's something that a reasonable
person would be expected to respond to and deny or whatever.
A reasonable person just wouldn't sit there once confronted with

(15:28):
an accusation that you had committed a murder.

Speaker 1 (15:35):
What stuck out to me was that the women all
remembered the conversations and details what he said, what he did,
what she said, what she did. And I think it
was a function of there but for the grace of
God go I.

Speaker 2 (15:55):
At first these details were just fodder for club gossip,
but now there were becoming a murder case. It didn't
feel good, especially after the things I'd learned about Bob
from the detectives. They told me about his life in
North Dakota and Howie was starting over. He had a
new medical practice and was part of a community. They

(16:17):
said his new wife, Janet was pregnant and the baby
was due in a few months. Could that guy really
have murdered somebody, and if he hadn't, were we about
to ruin his life. Back in New York, over the

(16:49):
summer of nineteen ninety eight, Dan and Steve kept going
reapproaching potential witnesses who had refused to be interviewed back
in the eighties. There was one woman in particular that
they were desperate to talk to, Roberta Karnowsky, a medical
student who Bob supervised at my Monodes Medical Center.

Speaker 1 (17:11):
We were kind of aware that Roberta was a love interest,
and we were aware that she lived with him, but
she was uncooperative at the time, back in nineteen eighty
five eighty six, she refused to be interviewed.

Speaker 2 (17:26):
But when Dan and Steve approached her all these years later,
Roberta agreed to talk. Steve flew out to meet her
in her new home of Charleston, North Carolina.

Speaker 4 (17:36):
I met with her and her lawyer. Her lawyer felt
comfortable with me, and it just was a great interview.

Speaker 2 (17:43):
Roberta tells Steve that Bob first asked her out in
August of nineteen eighty five, just a month after Gail
went missing. About three weeks later, and after just a
couple of dates, he asked her to move into his apartment,
which technically is still Gail's upon apartment. In fact, Roberta
was already living there when Elaine came to collect Gaile's belongings,

(18:06):
the ones Bob put out in trash bags. Roberta also
told Steve about this one night at the apartment that
really stood out to her.

Speaker 1 (18:17):
Roberta tells us that in the middle of the night,
there's a telephone call saying that there's a woman in
the poor authority, I believe it, which is a bus
terminal in midtown Manhattan, and would he come down and
take a look at her and see if it's her?
And Bob is resistant.

Speaker 2 (18:40):
Bob says, I doubt it's Gail and asks if he
has to come right away as it's the middle of
the night.

Speaker 4 (18:46):
Roberta Karnowski, hearing this, is ready to move out of
the apartment. He says, how should I get out of
here now? And he tells her not, don't worry, it's
not her.

Speaker 2 (18:56):
Bob did eventually go, but he dragged his feet.

Speaker 1 (18:59):
That was a little evidence that hurt him quite a bit,
you know, because he knew, of course it wasn't her,
Because he knew where she was.

Speaker 2 (19:11):
From that point on, Roberta was suspicious of Bob, and she,
just like us, started adding up the details. She thought
about the answering machine messages. Gail's mom would leave Bob
accusing him of murdering her daughter, and she remembered how
much he loved to fly. She started to formulate a

(19:31):
theory that Bob had killed Gail, rented a plane, and
thrown her into the ocean.

Speaker 1 (19:38):
And it was after an argument that Roberta and Bob
had at dinner where she actually accused him of killing
Gail and he remained silent.

Speaker 2 (19:56):
Roberta told her friend Sharon Alongi about what was going
on and her plane theory. Sharon had an idea to
check Bob's movements on the day of Gail's disappearance.

Speaker 1 (20:06):
When Bob was at work, they said, let's look at
his platelog for that day, and they went and they
saw that it was altered, and it was altered to
show that on that date he had not flown, but
he had flown on another date.

Speaker 4 (20:23):
A savvy twelve year old could see that it had
been altered from the seventh to the eighth.

Speaker 2 (20:30):
It's a huge breakthrough for the case, But it's not
the first time that the DA had learned that Bob
most likely flew that day. Back in the original DA
investigation in the eighties, one of the investigators called in
at Caldwell Airport, the same place Gail rescued her cat amilia,
to ask some questions.

Speaker 1 (20:51):
And they walked in and they talked to the owners
of mcdaney and Aviation and they said, actually, you know,
doctor Barnbeult used to fly out of here all the time.
They said, well, do you have any records of him
flying here? He says, yes, do you have any records
of him flying here in July of nineteen eighty five?
And they said yes, And sure enough, he flew on

(21:11):
July seventh, nineteen eighty five, the day his wife disappeared.

Speaker 4 (21:21):
Doctor Bierenbaum, in talking to both missing person detectives and
detectives from the precinct, her family, or his friends, he
never mentioned that he had rented that plane that afternoon,
and we had records that he did. There was no
way that he could deny it.

Speaker 1 (21:38):
He lied to the police and to everyone else when
he related his activities after he says his wife walked
out of the apartment sometime around noon that Sunday. It
was a lie of comission because he would say he
was either waiting for his wife to return, or he
was on his way to his sister's place in Montclair,

(21:59):
New Jersey, just two or three towns over from where
Cole Airport is, for his nephew's birthday party, or he
was already at the party when he was actually in
an airplane for almost two hours, and he could have
flown over one hundred and fifty miles easily. So I
mean the importance of the flight is not only because

(22:21):
he lied about it, because it gave him the opportunity
to dispose of a body where no one was ever
going to find it.

Speaker 2 (22:30):
Based on all of the interviews and this breakthrough proof
of the flight, the DA land robertas theary, they believe
Bob killed Gail at some point between ten thirty am
to three pm on July seventh, that Bob put her
body into a Duffel bag and smuggled her out of
the back door of his building to the car, evading

(22:53):
cameras and the doormen. At four point thirty pm, he
drove right onto the tarmac at Caldwell Airport, hired a
plane and flew for a two hour round trip, allowing
him to travel one hundred and seventy miles out over
the Atlantic. He dropped her body out of the plane,

(23:13):
flew back and headed to his nephew's party just a
few miles away. There's even a photo of him smiling
with his nephew and the birthday cake. The only problem
is the prosecutors needed hard evidence. All these stories were
not enough. They had to prove that, beyond any reasonable doubt,

(23:38):
Bob must have done it, And for Dan and Steve
there was one reasonable doubt that They still had to
address the torso. When the body washed up on the
Staten Island shore back in nineteen eighty nine, the chief
medical Examiner didn't have the DNA testing capabilities that they

(24:02):
do now. Instead, the body was identified as Gail's by
comparing a radiology report of the torso and some X
rays of Gail's former cocas injury. To Dan and Steve,
it felt like a risk. Could you really identify a
body solely by comparing their spines? It's a sort of

(24:24):
detail that the defense could cling on to to discredit
their argument. DNA testing had improved in the intervening years,
and they wanted to be sure, but it comes at
a risk. If the body is definitely Gael's, then they're
protecting themselves from the jurors doubt. But if it's not hers,

(24:44):
then they're back to square one. A case with no
body and only circumstantial evidence. That's a hard.

Speaker 1 (24:51):
Case to win.

Speaker 2 (24:53):
And on top of all that, the torso was already buried.
So Dan called Gail's sister, Elaine.

Speaker 6 (25:02):
They then asked me if they could exhume the body.

Speaker 1 (25:06):
So we are and we will put everything that we
have into this, no holds barred, bring out all the
guns blazing, but I can't guarantee an outcome.

Speaker 6 (25:16):
I thought about it for a while. We had no
idea whether this was ever going to be prosecuted, whether
it was going to be a successful prosecution.

Speaker 2 (25:26):
Eventually, Elaine consented to the exhumation, and the tent was
erected over Gale's gravesite in Mountain Zion Cemetery in Queen's
A few months later, Elaine was asked to come into
the city for a meeting at the Medical Examiner's office.

(25:46):
When she arrived, she was directed into a huge conference
room where Dan Steve two lawyers and the chief medical Examiner,
Charles Hirsch, were all waiting for her.

Speaker 6 (25:59):
And they said me, the torso is not Gail. And
after a string of curses, I said to them, you
have ripped the shred of closure that I have away
from me. You better indict him, and you better convict him.

Speaker 1 (26:31):
Next time.

Speaker 7 (26:31):
On The Girlfriends, my sister call she said, turn on
the news.

Speaker 4 (26:39):
Sometimes you want to keep things out of the press,
but this case was front page for a while.

Speaker 1 (26:44):
I got a phone call from a woman and she
actually says to me, I slept with this guy right
after his wife disappeared.

Speaker 7 (26:52):
What if he's not guilty, will he come after us
for slander? And if he is guilty, will he come
after us after us?

Speaker 2 (27:11):
The Girlfriends is produced by Novel for Ourheart Radio. For
more from Novel, visit novel dot Audio. The series is
hosted by me Carol Fisher and produced by Anna Sinfield.
Our assistant producer is Julian Manyu, Gera Patten, and our
researcher is Madeline Parr. The editor is Veronica Simmons. Max

(27:36):
O'Brien is our executive producer. Our fact checker is Valeria Rocca.
Production Management from Sharie Houston and Charlotte Wolf. Sound design,
mixing and scoring by Daniel Kempsen and Nicholas Alexander. Music
supervision by Anna Sinfield. Original music composed by Luisa Gerstein.

(28:00):
Glory development by Isaac Fisher. Willard Foxton is creative director
of development. Special thanks to Sean Glenn, David Waters, might
Lely Rowl, Katrina Norvell, David Wasserman, and Beth Anne Mcaluso.

(28:22):
We did reach out to Bob and his legal team
to ask if he'd like to comment on the podcast,
but we never heard back.

Speaker 1 (28:34):
Novel
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