Vanity Fair: Mother Justice

When her son was sentenced to 25 years for Brooklyn’s 2003 “grid kid” slaying, Doreen Quinn Giuliano was sure he’d been wrongfully convicted. To prove it, she went undercover, testing her sanity, her marriage, and the justice system.

On a street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Doreen Giuliano, 46, reprises her role as “Dee Madison Quinn.”
Photograph by Harry Benson.

by Christopher Ketcham

November 2007, an apartment in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn: Dee Quinn is partying with a man she often identifies in her journal as “Target.” Dee is 46 but doesn’t look it. She is tiny, girlish, with golden-blond hair. Her breasts are high in a push-up bra. Wearing heels, she arches her back. Target, who is 32 and has a shaved head, doesn’t want sex. He’s hungry. Dee cooks. They talk at the bar in the kitchen.

Hidden in her handbag on the nearby table is a digital recorder. She will secretly tape their discussion that night, and will eventually gather countless hours of conversation. She cooks Target dinner. They drink wine. They smoke weed. Target likes marijuana. At two a.m., Target leaves the apartment with a full stomach.

Only then does Dee let the mask fall. Her body shakes. She breaks into tears, overcome with the stress of months of deception. She has had Target under surveillance for an entire year before making contact, going so far as to rent an apartment around the corner from the house where he lives with his mother.

She stops crying, steadies her hand, reaches into the handbag, turns off the tape recorder, tests the sound, douses the lights, sits on the couch, and waits. She waits for Target to get on his way. She can’t be seen leaving the safe house, not at this late hour.

When she finally steps into the cold Brooklyn night, she drives five miles—not far, but in Brooklyn that distance can mean traversing cultural continents—to a three-story house in a neighborhood of old Colonial and Victorian homes, an area called Prospect Park South. Her husband, Frank, has waited up for her, as he has for the past six months, worried that she wouldn’t make it home…

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