"Oh magus, you have begun thy journey. Your master's temple has fallen but his work is not yet finished…" - Orrin Oscar Lutwidge
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Detective Benny Stango is a police officer from New York City who has been assigned to investigate the disappearance of Mark Meltzer's daughter, Cindy Meltzer. He seems to be well-meaning for the most part and appears to have the best interests of Cindy at heart. However, he is very suspicious of Mark Meltzer and believes him to be the most likely suspect behind his daughter's disappearance, suggesting on multiple occasions that he thinks Meltzer murdered her. Amanda Meltzer, Mark's estranged wife, has warned Mark that Stango seems to be out to get him.
There's Something in the SeaEdit
- Main article: There's Something in the Sea
Stango seems to keep close tabs on Meltzer, perhaps having his activities closely monitored. He has left phone messages for Mark on numerous occasions to comment on his suspicious activity. These include Mark's confrontation with the Big Sister on a dock by the Hudson River and the "red light" seen around Mark's place the night the Lunchbox Puzzle appeared. On July 9, Stango arrested Mark for trespassing at Orrin Oscar Lutwidge's burnt out lab on Lower Broadway. Stango seemed eager for any excuse to take Mark in for questioning, but he was forced to release him after a short while when the interrogation proved inconclusive. However, he did have Mark charged with a bogus criminal trespassing charge. Stango continued to monitor Mark's activities and received word from other cops in his precinct when Mark was seen coming out of the crumbling remains of Lutwidge's Scarlet Sovereign building. His call after that incident showed his increasing hostility to Mark when he openly implied that Mark had stashed the remains of his daughter in the warehouse.
Stango has called Mark crazy on several occasions, and eventually Mark used this suspicion to his advantage. Mark convinced Stango that he was having a mental breakdown in order to get committed to Tollevue Hospital and get closer to RØd Killian Quain. Stango seemed genuinely concerned for Mark's well-being when he called him during Mark's supposed mental breakdown, but when he learned that Mark was quickly released, he was more angry than ever.
After that incident, Stango was unwilling to show sympathy for anything that happened to Mark. When Mark reported receiving a threatening letter to the local precinct in Montauk, Stango suggested that the letter came from someone who was angry at seeing "the wheels of justice grind too slow," as if the threat was deserved. Stango was also skeptical when Dash H. Carmady of Auger Detection presented evidence that Jeremiah Lynch might be behind the harassment, saying that Mark was only trying to "set up the fall guy."
However, on October 23 Stango's whole attitude toward Mark changed. Stango was staking out Mark's house in Montauk when he encountered a Big Sister on the beach. This finally convinced him that Mark was telling the truth about Cindy's kidnapping, and he was so shook up that he phoned Mark in a state of panic to say the case was officially closed.
Though Stango's relation to Meltzer seems to have ended, his involvement in There's Something in the Sea has not. On January 7, a hotline was set up where users could call and get a message from him claiming that he was involved in an investigation to locate Lutwidge, who had recently escaped from Tollevue. The number has since been disconnected.
"Hey Meltzer, remember me? Det. Benny Stango. Y’know, the guy who's looking for ya daughter? Heard you got yourself banged up pretty good, crawling around the docks at 3 in the morning. Hey, I’m sure you’ve got some perfectly reasonable explanation - creature from the black lagoon was swimming in the Hudson. Well, gimme a call and let me know what happened. Who knows, I might even believe ya. Friggin’ nutbag."
"Hey Meltzer old buddy, it’s Benny Stango. I’m startin’ to get worried about ya. Neighbors are telling me they saw some kind of red light flashing around your place the other night. Ya don’t know anything about that, do ya? Gimme a call. At the station. TODAY."
"Yo Meltzer. Det. Stango here. So I’ve been hearing about weird goings on at all hours of the night. I gotta admit Meltzer, which struck me a little funny. Guy’s studying the disappearance of little girls all over the place, and then his own kid gets kidnapped. Still trying to connect the dots on that one. Hey, you know, it just could be the coincidence of the friggin’ century, or it could be you know something you ain’t tellin’. Let’s just say maybe I’m ready to believe you Meltzer. Maybe we oughta have a little conversation. Frankly I’d rather do this easy. But if I don’t get my druthers as you know, we could always do it right. You think about that Meltzer."
"Meltzer, ol' buddy! Detective Benny Stango. So the boys over in Battery Park, tell me they caught you pokin' around some derelict warehouse. I guess you found a pretty little jewelery box, and some kind of crazy map, that was totally blank except for a bunch of arrows. I don't know Meltzer - if I could get inside that screwy head of yours, maybe I'd have this case solved by now. All I know is, I'm gonna check that warehouse. And you better just hope I don't find your little girl - or whatever is left of her."
"Meltzer! It's detective Benny Stango; hey, I got your message, buddy! You sounded pretty frantic. But there ain't nothing to worry about. Just stay put, some fellas I know in Long Island, they're coming right quick and I'll be there as fast as a squad car can go. So just take a deep breath, relax and don't do nothing crazy. You don't do nothing silly, you hear? I'm watching out for you buddy."
"Detective Benny Stango. So I guess you pulled a fast one. The puzzle factory already bounced you out because you was threatening legal action if they tried to hold you without cause. I got this lurking suspicion that your whole little break down was pitched strictly for my benefit. You actually had me worried for a second you son of a bitch. I don't know what you're up to, but you are playing head games with the wrong guy. Watch your step, Meltzer."
"Detective Benny Stango. So I hear you were bellyaching to the Montauk Precinct the other day. Somebody sending you threatening letters now, huh? I can't imagine why anybody'd wanna harass a nice, normal Joe like you. Huh… Who knows? Maybe somebody figured your sea monster stories are a bunch of hooey! Maybe somebody figured out who really kidnapped your little girl. And Lord knows people tend to get all bent out of shape when the wheels of justice grind too slow. Good luck Meltzer… it'd just break my heart if anything bad ever happened to poor little you."
"Hey Meltzer, Detective Benny Stango here. So your new buddy, that private eye, Carmedy, he was sniffing around the station the other day. Guess he's trying to help you set up the fall guy - some Irish conman huh? Yeah, that's not too far fetched. It's only a 3000 mile stroll to Montauk, right? Look, you and me both know who's really responsible for taking your little girl. Sooner or later, you're gonna slip up - and trust me, I ain't gonna miss it. Just know, Meltzer, you're never out of my sight for long. So sleep tight, ya' friggin' psycho. Heh…"
"Meltzer! Jesus, Meltzer! This is Detective Stango here, and… Christ, Christ! Tell me you saw that friggin' thing at the beach! Look! Hey, I admit it, I've been staking out your place. I figured it's been a year, you might do something stupid, thinking it'd all blew over. But then, I saw that red light flashing by the water around 3 a.m., I had to check it out, and… Jesus, Meltzer! What is that thing? I took a shot at it, it didn't even flinch. I ran the whole way back to the squad car. (Yeah, I got to remember to clean the seat). Jesus, Meltzer, I never believed you were right. I'm sorry! Jus-Just give me a call … no, no, no, screw that! As far as I am concerned, this whole friggin' matter is officially closed."
Manhunt Hotline Message (Began 1/07)Edit
"You have reached the Manhunt Hotline, this is Detective Benny Stango. We are currently investigating a breakout from a mental ward. Escaped patient, Orrin Oscar Lutwidge is suspected of murdering a hospital employee. He is believed to have left New York City and is on the run, he may be traveling to hideouts in Chicago, Philadelphia, or parts unknown. We expect him to be reaching out to an organization of conspiracy theorists called The International Order of the Pawns. So all you members be aware, if Lutwidge attempts to contact you he may be armed, dangerous, and completely insane. So for your own protection, AVOID HIM…That is all. Now… how do I turn off this stupid thing?"