Bay Ridge woman seeks justice for son’s murder

June 14, 2012 Denise Romano
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Bay Ridge resident Diane Hunt is preparing to relive a nightmare for the fourth time.

She and her cousin will attend the third parole hearing for Vincent Vacante, the man who murdered her son, Jimmy Hunt, on June 15.

Hunt, who is a member of Parents for Murdered Children, is circulating a petition to keep Vacante behind bars. She said she still does not know why her son was murdered

“My Jimmy and I had a rocky relationship,” Hunt said, adding that he did struggle with drugs. “I told him if he died from drugs, I would bury him, but I would never visit his grave. Somehow he straightened himself out.”

He worked nights as a bartender and by day he would be in-line skating all over Bay Ridge, with long, flowing blonde hair, donning Miami Vice pastels.

They spent a pleasant Thanksgiving together and Hunt drove his mom home that night. “As we sat in the car, he told me he finally realized that he and I were all we had and that we would never be more important to anyone as we were to each other. My heart swelled,” Hunt said. “I waited so long for him to understand. He told me he would call me on Monday. I was so happy!”

But Monday and Tuesday came and went, with no word from her son. On Wednesday, Hunt called her cousin to see if he had heard from him. “He said no, but this friend of Jimmy’s, who turned out to be the murderer, had been calling around to locate Jimmy for a couple of days,” she said.

Hunt had a gnawing feeling that something was very wrong. On Thursday, December 1, 1988, at 2:30 a.m., Hunt received a phone call from her cousin’s mother, telling her the police were on their way to her apartment.

“I met them downstairs and even though I knew, I hoped I was wrong,” Hunt recalled.

Hunt is a fan of TV police dramas and knew that the longer the murderer went without detection, the harder it would be to find him or her. “I became crazed. They’d not find the murderer and I would never be able to rest,” she explained.

As Hunt made funeral arrangements, she could not stop thinking of the murderer. “I made myself crazy over this thought and finally fell asleep Thursday night. At 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning, I got a call from Detective Tommy Dades of the 68th Precinct,” she recalled. “They had found the murderer. He had confessed on tape, twice! I thought, ‘Thank you God! I could go to the wake and tell my Jimmy, Don’t worry, honey, they got him!’ I was so relieved.”

The trial did not come until late 1989 and that’s when Hunt learned bits and pieces of what had happened. Her son had let his “friend” stay overnight in his apartment because his parents would not let him in their home. The next morning, Vacante went looking for a job. When he returned, they talked and Jimmy went in the shower.

“The murderer was sitting on Jimmy’s bed when he came out of the shower. Jimmy went into the closet to get his clothes and when he came out, the murderer shot him three times,” Hunt said. “The murderer fled the apartment and went to several places trying to sell the gun, which tragically turned out to be my son’s gun. Then he came back to Jimmy’s apartment, and he didn’t want to look at Jimmy so he pulled a mattress over him. He stole whatever he wanted from my son and then he stole Jimmy’s car and went to a motel somewhere between here and JFK, either with a girl or he met a girl and they partied for the rest of the week until the cops found Jimmy’s car in the motel parking lot.”

Hunt kept herself together throughout the trial as best she could. “At the end of the trial, the judge asked me if I had anything I would like to say,” she recalled. “I said ‘Yes, your honor. I have waited 11 months to find out why my son is dead. I sat through this whole trial and I still don’t know why my son is dead.’ The judge agreed with me. He acknowledged that while there was never an excuse for murder, there usually was a reason, and he had heard no reason.”

Hunt’s only goal is to keep Vacante behind bars. “He does not deserve to be free. He took my son’s life. He changed the whole course of my life,” she said. “He had no right then and has no right to be free now. To me, he should be dead. Jimmy is.”

To sign the petition, visit

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