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The Pizza Murders: The Story of a Random Double Murder That Shocked a Small Town

"File:Do Not Cross, Crime Scene.jpg" by Yumi Kimura from Yokohama, JAPAN is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Rural Sussex County in New Jersey is the type of place most people would consider safe. The landscape is populated by all types of farms, houses that look long-abandoned, strip malls, and small communities filled with many antique shops. No one would think this was the setting of two brutal and random murders that would attract national and eventually worldwide attention. Unfortunately, murder happens everywhere.

Pizza Delivery Gone Wrong

Tony’s Pizza and Pasta in Hardyston, N.J. received a call on Saturday night, April 19th, 1997. The caller ordered two pizzas to be delivered to 196 Scott Road in nearby Franklin, N.J.

Tony’s wasn’t the only pizzeria called to deliver to the house on Scott Road and not the first time the caller phoned Tony’s that night. Investigators found out that the callers contacted many other pizzerias. All the other restaurants refused to deliver to the address. When the caller first contacted Tony’s and found out that an employee, 22-year-old Jeremy Giordano, was working, they hung up. Owner Giorgio Gallara was suspicious about the order so he decided to accompany Giordano and the two left the pizzeria at approximately 10:30 PM.

Giordano and Gallara pulled up to the house. Jayson Vreeland, 17, and Thomas Koskovich,18, waited outside, Gallara was on the passenger’s side, rolled down the window, and told the two boys how much money they owed. 

A 2017 New Jersey Herald article “1997 ‘thrill killings’ of 2 pizza deliverymen shocked county” reports that Vreeland asked Koskovich if he had the money. Koskovich reached into his pocket. Instead of money, Koskovich took a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and started firing into the car. Vreeland, armed with a.22 caliber revolver, also shot into the car.

Koskovich and Vreeland took the bodies from the car and left them on the ground. The two pizzas were left next to them. No money was stolen.

Police traced the call to a nearby Dunkin Donuts. According to a 1997 Newsweek article, “A Deadly Late-Night Delivery,” surveillance cameras at the donut shop captured Koskovich and Vreeland borrowing a phone book at 10 PM that Saturday. Both teens were arrested two days after the murder.

Closeup of a person pointing a gun at the camera.
“gun” by Gideon Tsang is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

The New Jersey Herald reported that a friend of Koskovich, Christine Slater, contacted police on April 20th. She told them that, on the day of the murders, Koskovich told her that he always wanted to kill a pizza delivery person.

Another tip came from a Scott Road resident who called the police and told them that they saw Koskovich’s car on Scott Road the night before.

Police arrested Koskovich and Vreeland on April 21st, 1997. Besides firearms, police found blood-stained clothes in a gym bag and Gallara’s wallet. According to the Herald, Koskovich confessed. Vreeland claimed that he didn’t shoot the victims but instead shot the dashboard. Vreeland claimed that he wanted to prove that he “was a friend of Koskovich” and that he “didn’t want to kill anybody.”

Vreeland, who was a minor at the time of his arrest, was placed in a juvenile detention center. While incarcerated there, the Herald reports that Vreeland allegedly told another inmate that he only shot the dashboard. He also said that he and Vreeland “wanted to see what it was like to kill somebody.”

According to The Herald, the story was picked up nationwide and eventually worldwide. David Laiosa, the author of the book The Pizza Killers, found articles on the crime in Asian news outlets. 

Robbery

Franklin Police were investigating a robbery that occurred 11 days earlier. Adventure Sports is a store specializing in hunting, fishing, and camping supplies, including firearms. It would later be determined that Thomas Koskovich broke into the store while his friend Michael Conklin, 19, waited in a getaway car.

Basically, the two got away due to the store’s faulty alarm system. Koskovich stole three firearms: a .22 caliber revolver, a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Two of the stolen guns were used in the killings. [1] 

According to Vreeland, the original plan was for Koskovich and Vreeland to sell the guns to buy cocaine then sell the cocaine.  The original plan was also to rob two pizza delivery people and also included Conklin. Vreeland said that once Koskovich started talking about murder, Conklin wanted no part of it. [2]  

Vreeland recalled a conversation between Conklin and Koskovich. Conklin asked Koskovich “Why pizza delivery men?’ Koskovich replied, “They’re easy targets, I just want to kill someone just for the thrill of it!” [3] 

A single candle burns in a dark room.
“File:’Candle’.JPG” by Arivumathi is marked with CC BY-SA 3.0.

Aftermath & Impact

A 2017 NJ.com article, “20 years later, N.J. church to remember victims of ‘thrill kill’ pizza murders,” reports that the First Baptist Church of Sussex held a service in remembrance of the victims 20 years after their deaths. Jeremy Giordano’s family have been longtime members of the congregation.

Born on January 5th, 1975, Jeremy Giordano was the child of Joseph and Loretta. He graduated from Wallkill Valley High School in 1994 and was on the wrestling team. In his book, Laiosa quotes Joseph as saying  “He didn’t do well, but he tried like hell.” [4] 

“Jeremy took care of his family and even helped us if money was short,” Loretta said. (Laiosa, p. 9) Jeremy’s cousin, Nicholas, said that “There are people in my family who have never come to terms with Jeremy’s death. Some people consider him Saint Jeremy […] I live with this every day, every day I think about it.” [5]  

Laiosa quotes Loretta as saying “After Jeremy’s death our family members were separated emotionally; each of us not knowing how to feel or what to say to one another. It made us so emotionally raw that we couldn’t be around each other, separating us physically as well…when one of us starts hurting again, it literally rubs off on the others, causing more pain, friction, hurt, and finally […] separation.” [6] 

A plain cheese pizza sits on a round metal tray on a wooden table.
“Saki’s Pizza” by The Pizza Review is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Giorgio Gallara was a graduate of High Point High School. He started working at Tony’s Pizza and Pasta in 1988. He saved up money and bought the restaurant from the owner when he was 21 in 1993. He and his girlfriend Lara Peers had a daughter, Katelyn, born shortly after he bought the restaurant. Gallara also loved camping. At the time of his murder, Katelyn was 4-years-old. On the night of the murders, he and Lara had plans to go camping. She waited in Tony’s parking lot for him. He never returned. [7] 

Laiosa quotes Katelyn Peer as saying “I think about this every f**King day, this haunts my life. I know I have to move forward but it’s so hard when every day I wonder what life would be like if my daddy was here.” [8] 

Former Tony’s employee Todd Benzivengi said “I worked there for six months in 1996. Giorgio was there from open to close. Jeremy knew every crack and crevice of this county, if you asked him for directions for a delivery, he could tell you what kind of grass was on the lawn.” [9] 

A closeup of a brown cardboard pizza box.
“File:2020-02-21 12 39 16 Pizza box from Buon Appetito’s NY Pizza in Dulles, Loudoun County, Virginia.jpg” by Famartin is marked with CC BY-SA 4.0.

“The Pizza Killers”

Jayson Arthur Vreeland was born on September 5th, 1979. [10] He moved around a lot during childhood. He was bullied at school and even ended up with a broken arm at one point. ” I got pulled out of a school bus by a bully. The bus driver didn’t care. The bully opened the door, pulled me out, and started to beat the living hell out of me. I got into fights but only on the defense.” [11] 

Vreeland said that he started using drugs at age 14. “I really acted out in school so I would fit in. The other kids saw me as the kid who would do crazy things and take a ton of drugs. It seemed every time I moved and went to another school and being the new kid I was picked on. The only kids who didn’t seem to pick on me were the druggies. It was nice not having to fight all the time.” [12] 

Oddly, Vreeland fondly recalls getting pizza from Tony’s with his family when he was younger. He also said that he knew Jeremy Giordano which is why he hung up after learning that he was working that night. [13] 

Thomas Joseph Koskovich was born on May 6, 1978. His parents abandoned him leaving him in the care of his grandmother, Bertha, who is described as an addict who abused both painkillers and alcohol. She also had gambling issues. [14] 

Koskovich spent most of his time with his uncle Leonard who is described as a “career criminal” and a drug addict. Koskovich also began using drugs at a young age. He would steal pills from his grandmother and do drugs with his uncle. [15] 

Both Vreeland and Koskovich were convicted and received life sentences. Vreeland will be eligible for parole on October 14th, 2044, at age 65. Koskovich will be eligible for parole on October 20th, 2072, at age 94.


Works Cited:

[1] Laiosa, David.The Pizza Killers: Just for the Thrill of It. Habit Publishing. 2017. pp. 16-17.

[2] Laiosa, p.33

[3] Laiosa, p. 33

[4] Laiosa, p. 9

[5]  Laiosa, p. 17

[6] Laiosa, p. 17

[7] Laiosa, p. 14

[8] Laiosa, p. 18

[9]  Laiosa, p. 32

[10]  Laiosa p. 7

[11] Laiosa, p. 15

[12] Laiosa, p. 35

[13] Laiosa, p. 8

[14]  Laiosa, p. 31

[15] Laiosa, pp. 36-37

2 Comments

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  1. Thank you, I was just a kid when these murders happened. It was surreal sitting in the jail talking with the killers so many years later and then writing the book.

  2. In 1996, my Brother worked at Tony’s. He was there that night. He had so much guilt as to what happened that horrible night. Until the day he passed, he carried that guilt to what happened to Jeremy and Giorgio.
    I don’t care what anyone says about rehabilitation. You cannot fix a psychopath. Those boys had no conscious, there is no fixing that. That trash needs to stay and rot in prison. Both of them. The younger one wants early parole, he does not deserve to be let out now or ever.

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Written by MD Bastek

I'm just a being who writes about unusual things.

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