The Gotti family has had its share of drama, headlines and trauma, which is someone expected as John Gotti used to be the head of the Gambino crime family. But, there is one shocking tragedy that scarred the family, and shook Victoria Gotti to the core: the death of her little brother Frankie.
The new Lifetime movie “Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter,” executive produced by Gotti herself, shows the monumental effect that his unexpected death had on the family — and it also shows the disappearance of the man who accidentally took his life.
Frankie was just 12 when he died on March 18, 1980, a death that Gotti wrote about in her New York Post column in 2009.
It was supposed to be a day to celebrate. He had just made the football team.
”Later that afternoon, after school, he met a few neighborhood friends and went out to play. He couldn’t wait to tell them the news,” Gotti wrote.
She said she saw her brother and her friends on their bike and told them, “It’s late and you know you have to be home for dinner at 5 or Mommy will be pissed.”
As her mom, Victoria DiGiorgio, prepared dinner for the family, the phone rang and Gotti answered it. Her brother had been hit by a car.
“The driver dragged him some 200 feet before angry neighbors stopped the car, pounced on his hood, and stopped him from crossing the avenue,” Gotti wrote. That driver was John Favara, adding that neighbors claimed he was angry at her brother for being in the street. She wrote that neighbors noted he was “a real a- -hole until he realized the kid trapped under his wheels was John Gotti’s son.”
Her brother didn’t make it.
The new Lifetime film, which debuted this week, dramatizes the moment that Victoria found out Frankie died and its effect on the family.
Her parents came home, after the phone call about Frankie being in an accident but they didn’t bring home Frankie.
“Where’s Frankie?” Victoria’s character asked.
DiGiorgio was visibly distraught and, sobbing, she explained, “We lost him.” Then, her character fell to the floor. The movie also explored how badly DiGiorgio took the death of Frankie.
“I remember watching her pass Frankie’s room, and she broke down,” Victoria wrote in her New York Post column about that day. “She was deeply medicated — though not enough to sleep. We all heard the crash, and then blood-curdling screams. My mother had smashed the mirrored vanity in the master bathroom and then attempted to cut herself with the jagged edges.”
It was one of several suicide attempts that followed his death.
In the movie, and in real life, her mother became angered when she saw that Favaro was still partying. She took a bat to Favaro’s car, the object that killed Frankie. Favaro responded by calling the grief-stricken mother crazy, both according to the movie and to Victoria’s column. Soon after, John Gotti, DiGiorgio and their youngest son took a trip to Florida. While they were gone, Favara vanished. He went missing five months afer Frankie died, the Daily Beast reported.
“According to the FBI, he was last seen being beaten and stuffed into a van,” Victoria wrote.
Him calling a mob boss’ wife crazy in the aftermath of killing her son may not have been the wisest idea. Although nobody has ever been charged in his disappearance, a former Gambino hit man, Charles Carneglia, told prosecutors in 2001 that John Gotti allegedly ordered to have him killed. At another one of Carneglia’s trials, witnesses claimed that Carneglia disposed of Favara’s corpse in a vat of acid, according to the New York Post.
Victoria addresses Favara’s disappearance in her new movie.
“What happened to John Favara is still a mystery, but most people assume he’s dead,” she explained. “Do I feel bad about it? If I’m being honest, no. After Frankie’s death, my mother was never the same. Actually nothing was.”
Get all your true crime news from Oxygen. Coverage of the latest true crime stories and famous cases explained, as well as the best TV shows, movies and podcasts in the genre. And don't miss our own podcast, Martinis & Murder!