Incest and Murder in Key Biscayne
The Sensational Stabbing of Jacques Mossler
By Rebecca Eager
One of the fun parts of teaching is finding that occasional writer who has talent at a very young age. Such was this case, where University of Miami Freshmen Rebecca Eager found a fascinating Miami True Crime that I had never heard of. And wrote as gripping a story at 18 as I could now. Hopefully Dexter likes this one too….
The tale of Jacques and Candace Mossler can be found in any nice restaurant or exclusive club in South Beach. A young model enamors an older millionaire and not soon after, the pair wed. However, their story takes a darker path. It begins with a steamy incestuous love affair, and ends with thirty-nine stab wounds to the heart.
PLAYGROUND LOAN SHARK MAKES GOOD
Jacques Mossler began by loaning money to children on the playground and died with thirty-three million dollars to his name. As he progressed past the schoolboy phase of his life, Mossler acquired a job working as an auto mechanic. He was later promoted to a car dealer and eventually made the transition into the financing department. This is where Jacques Mossler struck gold.
Mirroring his loansharking past, he became involved in installment loans. Mossler’s innate drive allowed his business to expand in installment loans to banking business. To no surprise, his success continued to grow and by the mid 1940s, Mossler headed roughly forty banks, insurance firms and finance firms in Houston, Miami, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. While building his fortune, Mossler wed in the 1920s and fathered four daughters. However, the couple divorced in 1947 and the wealthy businessman was back on the market. It did not take Candace Weatherby long to reel him in.
MODELS AND RICH OLD MEN IS NOTHING NEW IN MIAMI
Candace Weatherby was a true Southern belle, born in Georgia sometime around February 18, 1920. Her year of birth has changed multiple times, not surprisingly, as the belle matured her age did not. At an age that she claimed to be “much too young” she married Norman Johnson and the couple had two children. However, like many young adults who are swept away by love and marry too soon, the pair divorced in 1947.
Candy then moved to New York with her children and worked as a toothpaste model. Soon after, Candy moved to New Orleans where she took a job at the New Orleans Grand Opera. Her position was to seek donations from the wealthy in New Orleans. This is where she met Jacques Mossler.
After a visit from the charming, blonde bombshell, Mossler was mesmerized. It took only six months for them to wed, and on May 24, 1949, Candy joined Mossler at the top of his multimillion-dollar empire. The newly-named Mr. and Mrs. Mossler as well as the six children between them, moved into a 28-room mansion in Houston and Candy was immersed in a life of luxury.
The couple kept a fleet of the latest models of luxury automobiles - Jaguars, Cadillacs, Thunderbirds - as well as multiple extravagant homes. Along with all her jewelry and clothes, Candy received a monthly allowance of $5,700 to manage the house. Jacque would add bonuses of $5,000 for her birthday, their wedding anniversary and other special occasions. Candy was living the dream life.
She adjusted magnificently into her new role as a socialite. She became known as a charming hostess, entertaining visiting opera stars and other celebrities, and taking active part in civic, cultural and charitable causes.
CHARITY AND INCEST
Following a business trip to Chicago, Jacque Mossler learned off the horrendous murder of a mother and her youngest child. The father had murdered the pair, claiming that his wife was possessed by evil spirits, and was later institutionalized. This tragedy that left four children orphaned deeply touched Mossler. The Mosslers adopted the four remaining children and they joined the family of eight at the Houston mansion. But in 1957, Candy found a much more worthy cause: Melvin Powers, her nephew.
Powers was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1942. After serving in the Navy, he took to crime and served 90 days in prison for swindling. Once released, he moved to Houston and, following the advice of his mother, sought out his aunt for assistance. Candy pressured Jacques for months, and he finally hired Powers at one of his financial firms, letting him move into the mansion with the family. No one anticipated Melvin and Candy to forge a love affair.
During 1962, Jacques Mossler developed a respiratory infection and spent a majority of his time in Europe or Key Biscayne receiving treatments. This left Candy and Mel unsupervised in the mansion together, allowing their affair to flourish. She would visit his bedroom at night, after the children and servants were asleep. They exchanged torrid love letters and stole away for trysts. Powers claimed that Candy lavished him with anything he wanted in exchange for his performance in the bedroom. Jacques Mossler was fronting the bill for the gifts his wife showered her lover with.
The incestuous bliss did not last forever though, and the relationship was exposed to the inhabitants of the mansion. A year after Mel moved in, a servant informed Mossler of the affair. After reading Candy’s diary for confirmation, Mossler fired Powers from the financial firm and two officials ordered Powers to leave the mansion or face arrest. After much fuss, Powers left, claiming one day he would return, “As the owner of the mansion.”
Disgusted by his wife’s actions, Mossler left the Houston mansion and alternated among his multiple other residences. He eventually settled in an apartment in Key Biscayne. Neither Jacques nor Candy filed for divorce, though. According to the prenuptial agreement, divorcing Candy would result in Jacques losing half of his fortune. Similarly if Candy divorced him, she would only receive $200,000. However if Jacques were to perish, Candy would receive the entire fortune. Coincidentally, that’s just what occurred.
NOBODY FALLS ON A KNIFE 39 TIMES
In June of 1964 Candy, one of her daughters and three of the adopted Mossler children were visiting Jacques in Key Biscayne. After arriving, Candy reported intense migraine headaches, and received medical treatment multiple times. Her outreaches for medical treatments always occurred in the early hours of the morning, and the children always accompanied her. In the early hours of June 30, Candy suspiciously claimed she needed to mail letters and left the Key Biscayne apartment with her children. After purchasing stamps and mailing letters, she entered the hospital for migraine treatments.
Once finished at the hospital, Candy and the children returned at 4:30 AM only to discover Jacques’ body sprawled out on the living room floor. He was wrapped in an orange blanket and doused with blood. His skull was broken and thirty-nine stab wounds littered his chest, with half a dozen puncturing his heart.
The authorities were notified and the hunt for the murderer began. Neighbors of Jacques Mossler witnessed a man exiting Mossler’s apartment and driving away in white Chevrolet. Burglary, as well as enraged business associates were considered, but ultimately the focus fell on Candy and Mel. Mossler was not simply killed, but shredded. Such intensity usually indicated an emotional or sexual connection between the victim and murderer.
More tangible evidence also pointed at the lovers. Records proved that Powers had flown to Miami prior to the murder, and returned to Houston on a flight hours after the crime. The white Chevrolet reported outside Mossler’s apartment hours before the crime matched the rental car provided to Powers by his aunt. Physical evidence linking Powers to the crime scene also began to appear. A palm print belonging to Powers was found in Mossler’s apartment and traces of blood were found in the rental car.
Upon further investigation, authorities located the clothing Powers wore during his trip to Miami. Traces of blood were located on them. The evidence pointing towards Mel Powers was mounting.
This proved to be enough for authorities, and a warrant for Mel Powers was issued. On July 3, the day of Mossler’s funeral, Powers was arrested outside of Houston.
PAYING FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE GUY WHO KILLED HIM
Candy, of course, came to Mel’s rescue. The now much richer woman hired Percy Foreman, one of the greatest trial lawyers of the time. The effective attorney was not cheap, so Candy put many pieces of jewelry as collateral for the $200,000 retainer. Among the collateral were an emerald-cut blue and white diamond ring, a canary tear drop diamond pendant and various other gold and diamond frippery- all gifts from Jacques Mossler. In essence, Mossler not only paid for Powers to sexually satisfy his wife, but he also paid for Powers defense in his murder trial.
After charging Powers, Candy was next. Confirmations of the affair grew and the investigation started to draw the public’s attention. Candy turned herself over to Miami authorities on July 20, 1965 and the sensational trial begun.
OVERBLOWN TRIAL, WITHOUT CABLE TV
Mel and Candy’s trial officially began on January 17, 1966 and it captivated the nation. Paul Holmes of the Chicago Tribune, described the trial as “lubricated by sex, nourished by sex, varnished by sex.”
The judge forbade any individual under the age of twenty-one to be present during the trial, claiming that “If you like wholesome atmosphere, stay away from the sixth floor of the Dade County Courthouse . . . This trial has overtones of homicide and incest that even Dostoyevsky would find a little too much.” The combination of the steamy details of her affair and Candy’s blatant sexuality enthralled the the jury, the media and the country.
The prosecution prepared its case, proving the taboo love affair and claiming the pair planned Mossler’s murder. Finding evidence of the relationship was not a difficult task. Multiple witnesses testified that the pair was affectionate, much beyond the boundary of aunt and nephew. Others testified that Powers indulged sexual details of his relationship with Candy to them. However, the couple was not on trial for incest, but murder.
Prosecutors produced four witnesses, claiming that Mel and Candy offered them money to murder Jacque. But predictably this group consisted of criminals, and their credibility was questioned. The fourth witness, Billy Frank Mulvey, ruined the credibility for all four. Mulvey claimed that he had been offered money to murder Mossler, but he accepted the money and did not follow through with the murder. He also claimed that he later shared a cell with Powers and that Powers had confessed the crime to him. The coincidence was too hard for the jury to believe.
Pertaining to the incestuous love affair, the defense combatted this shock with the claim that Mossler was homosexual. The defense stated that her husband’s homosexuality drove Candy to seek refuge in her nephew. The defense also proposed that this could have accounted for the hair in Mossler’s hand during his death. An enraged lover could be responsible for the overwhelming amount of wounds on the corpse. The defense called no witnesses, implying that the prosecutors did not make a strong enough case. With the credibility of their witnesses in question, the prosecutors’ case was in trouble.
The jury began its deliberation on March 3, and, after a vote, the decision was nearly evenly split between conviction, undecided and acquittal. The jury requested to rehear testimony pertaining to fingerprint evidence and accounts from neighbors. This repeat of testimony allowed them to come to a decision. The jurors who originally were undecided changed their vote for acquittal. Mel Powers and Candy Mossler were found not guilty of the murder of Jacques Mossler.
CANDY AND MEL DON’T EVEN PRETEND TO LOOK FOR “THE REAL KILLERS”
Powers and Mossler exited the courtroom and were bombarded by the media. After an embrace, a reporter asked the pair if they had any plans to marry. Candy replied with “of course not.” The affair ended soon after the trial, and Mel and Candy went their separate ways.
Candy Mossler continued her extravagant social life and met Barnett Garrison at one of her social events in 1970. Despite the twenty-four year age difference, Mossler wed her younger man in July 1971. However, the honeymoon phase did not last long and on August 13, 1972 the pair fought after a night of drinking. Candy locked Barnett out of their home, and a severely intoxicated Garrison attempted to climb to their third-floor bedroom. Sadly, Garrison fell off of the house and was left crippled. Following this accident, Candy divorced him.
Candy continued to work in the financial firm of her late husband. While staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami during a business trip, she was treated for migraines, That night Candy was found dead her in bed. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was postural asphyxia, caused by her inability to breathe in her facedown position while heavily sedated. The autopsy also revealed Candy’s lifetime habit of drug abuse. According to Ronald Wright, former chief deputy medical examiner of Dade County, “thousands and thousands” of needle pricks littered her buttocks form years of drug abuse.
Following the conclusion of the murder trial, Mel Powers developed a career as a real estate developer and experienced many financial highs and lows throughout his lifetime. During the early 1980s, he built the Arena Tower and Arena Theater in Houston, where he resided in the penthouse. He also owned a 142-foot yacht, which was one of the largest at the time. Eventually, financial woes fell upon him and the building went into foreclosure. Powers filed for bankruptcy. He was found dead in his home on October 8, 2010, but no official cause of death has been released.
The murder of Jacques Mossler set the precedent for many infamous murder trials in the recent decades. Considered the O.J. Simpson trial of its day, the murder trial attracted the attention of the media and captivated the public. The trial of Mel Powers and Candy Mossler also proved one idea common to many of these publicized trials: money can get you out of any trouble, including murder.
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"Incest and Murder in Key Biscayne"