Ultimately, Miranda would ask for a ransom of over $400,000--even after the victim had died. He never got it. Maria Talag, who according to Donna called Miranda her godfather, invited Donna and two friends, Rita and Theresa, to participate in the crime. Their cut was to be $9,000 each; Donna wanted hers to pay for a picture portfolio to help her break into modeling.
Vigliarole believed the three girls were prostitutes who were going to have sex with him. Instead, they picked him up on March 8 in Elmhurst, Queens, at Maria's home, and drugged him to make him drowsy. Then they drove him to Selma's apartment in Harlem. The apartment had already been prepared for an extended torture session: The closet door had been cut, a pot put in it for use as a toilet, the windows boarded.
For the next 15 to 20 days (police aren't sure just when Vigliarole died), the man was starved, burned, beaten, and tortured. (Even 10 years later, Spurling could recall Rita's chilling response when they questioned her about shoving a three-foot metal bar up Vigliarole's rear: "He was a homo anyway." How did she know? "When I stuck the bar up his rectum he wiggled.")
The three girls took turns watching the man. It was Donna who delivered a ransom note and tape to a friend of Vigliarole's, who was able to get a partial license plate number of the car she was driving. He notified the police, who traced the plate to a rental car facility. On April 6 the suspects were arrested, and detectives spent 36 hours straight interviewing the seven men and women. "We had to keep going back and forth and catch them in lies," said Spurling. "It was a never-ending circle of lies."
Spurling himself interviewed Donna: "I couldn't believe this girl who was so intelligent and nice-looking could be so unemotional about what she was telling me she and her friends had done. They'd squeezed the victim's testicles with a pair of pliers, beat him, burned him. Actually, I thought the judge's sentence was lenient. Once a jailbird, always a jailbird."
Finally, by 8 A.M. the next day, the detectives had signed confessions from everybody but Selma Price. Later, her lawyer would use that fact to help her plea-bargain for 15 years to life. Judge Edwin Torres, who would later go on to write Carlito's Way, gave everybody else 25 years to life.