Excerpt for Murder of the Horse Trainer’s Rival: The Bitter Breakup of Buddy Jacobson and the Model (A Historical True Crime Short) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


The Bitter Breakup of Buddy Jacobson and the Model

A Historical True Crime Short

By R. Barri Flowers


The Bitter Breakup of Buddy Jacobson and the Model

A Historical True Crime Short

Copyright 2018 by R. Barri Flowers

All rights reserved.

Cover Image Copyright Ross Stevenson, 2018

Used under license from

In memory of the tragic victims of historical and present-day
bad relationships, misfortune, and homicide.

* * *


Dead at the Saddleworth Moor

Kids Who Commit Adult Crimes

Killers of the Lonely Hearts

Mass Murder in the Sky

Masters of True Crime

Missing or Murdered

Murder at the Pencil Factory

Murder During the Chicago World’s Fair

Murder of a Star Quarterback

Murder of the Banker’s Daughter

Murder of the Doctor’s Wife

Murdered by the King of Western Swing

Murderess on the Loose

Murders in the United States

Serial Killer Couples

The Amityville Massacre

The Dreadful Acts of Jack the Ripper

The Gold Special Train Robbery

The Pickaxe Killers

The Sex Slave Murders

The Sex Slave Murders 2

The Sex Slave Murders 3


Before He Kills Again: A Veronica Vasquez Thriller

Dark Streets of Whitechapel: A Jack the Ripper Mystery

Dead in Pukalani: An Eddie Naku Maui Mystery (Book 1)

Dead in Kihei: An Eddie Naku Maui Mystery (Book 2)

Deadly Defense: A Grace Gaynor Christian Mystery

Justice Served: A Barkley & Parker Mystery

Killer in The Woods

Murder in Maui: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 1)

Murder on Kaanapali Beach: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 2)

Murder of the Hula Dancers: A Leila Kahana Mystery (Book 3)

Persuasive Evidence: A Jordan La Fontaine Legal Thriller

State’s Evidence: A Beverly Mendoza Legal Thriller

* * *


“Must read for all true crime fans.” — Amazon reviewer on Serial Killers and Prostitutes

“Selected as one of Suspense Magazine’s Best books.” — John Raab, CEO/Publisher on The Sex Slave Murders

“A gripping account of the murders committed by husband-and-wife serial killers Gerald and Charlene Gallego.” — Gary C. King, true crime author on The Sex Slave Murders

“Vivid case studies of murder to complement this well researched criminology text.” — Scott Bonn, Ph.D., criminology professor on The Dynamics of Murder

“A model of exposition not to be missed by anyone interested in the annals of American criminal behavior.” — Jim Ingraham, Ph.D., professor emeritus of American Studies at Bryant University on The Pickaxe Killers

“R. Barri Flowers always relates an engrossing story.” — Robert Scott, true crime author on The Sex Slave Murders

“Striking, well-written tales sparkle in this ocean of murder.” — Diane Fanning, true crime author on Masters of True Crime

“Exhaustively researched, each storyteller brings their own unique prose to these pages, creating what will soon become a true crime classic.” — Kevin M. Sullivan, true crime author on Masters of True Crime

“This book should be a mandatory purchase and read for any true-crime buff.” — Steven A. Egger, Ph.D., associate professor on Masters of True Crime

“Incredible cases, psychopathic killers, unwitting victims, along with the very best writers, make for an exciting, no-holds-barred, soon-to-be true-crime classic.” — Dan Zupansky, host of True Murder on Masters of True Crime

“An indispensable sourcebook for anyone interested in American homicide, from law-enforcement professionals to armchair criminologists.” — Harold Schechter, true crime historian on The Dynamics of Murder

* * *


Murder of the Horse Trainer’s Rival: The Bitter Breakup of Buddy Jacobson and the Model

Murder of the Banker’s Daughter: The Killing of Marion Parker – bonus true crime short

Murder Chronicles: Murder in Mission Hill – bonus excerpt

The Dreadful Acts of Jack the Ripper – bonus excerpt


About the Author


The Bitter Breakup of Buddy Jacobson and the Model

On Sunday, August 6, 1978, firefighters discovered the charred remains of a body inside a wooden crate, set ablaze in an empty lot in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, in Bronx County, New York. The male decedent had been worked over, stabbed, and shot multiple times. The victim was identified as John “Jack” Tupper, a restaurateur, age thirty-four. His killer turned out to be forty-eight-year-old Howard “Buddy” Jacobson, who at one time was the country’s leading Thoroughbred horse trainer.1 The shocking act of violence was the result of a classic love triangle turned deadly. The woman caught between the two men was an attractive twenty-three-year-old fashion model named Melanie Cain, who had recently started living with Tupper in his 84th Street penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She had previously lived in the adjoining suite with Jacobson for a number of years before moving out. After being convicted of Tupper’s murder in 1980, Buddy Jacobson made a daring escape from custody, fleeing across the country to California with his new girlfriend, a twenty-two-year-old model named Audrey Barrett. The convicted murderer stayed on the lamb for several weeks before being captured to carry out his sentence for the death of Jack Tupper. The stunning tale of Jacobson’s meteoric rise and fall in horse training, and subsequent romantic involvement with someone less than half his age ending in a tragic crime of passion, had all the makings of an ill-fated contemporary melodrama, except that it occurred on a real-life stage as a sad true event.

* * *

In 1978, New York City rang in the New Year with Edward (Ed) Irving Koch beginning a long stint as the city’s 105th mayor. For the next two months, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion was at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for fiction.2 On May 9th, the musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’, opened at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre.3 Erma Bombeck’s book, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? topped the New York Times list of nonfiction bestsellers for much of the summer that year.4 By October, the defending World Series champions, the New York Yankees, were on their way to a second straight championship. On October 17th, they did just that by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games for the Yankees’ twenty-second overall World Series championship.

On the dark side in the Big Apple in 1978, on October 12th, twenty-year-old Nancy Laura Spungen was found dead from a stab wound at the Hotel Chelsea on West 23rd Street. The Philadelphia born groupie’s boyfriend, Sid Vicious, a member of the Sex Pistols, an English punk rock band, was charged with second-degree murder in her death. This followed a tumultuous relationship between the two, including substance abuse and domestic violence. Four months later, while out on bail and after pleading not guilty, Vicious died from an overdose of heroin prior to going to trial.5 The case was closed by the City of New York Police Department or NYPD.

And on December 11th that year, an incredible robbery, known as the Lufthansa Heist, took place in the city at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the borough of Queens.6 It was estimated that the armed robbers made off with nearly $6 million in cash and jewelry, making it the largest amount ever stolen at JFK Airport and one of the biggest cash robberies and criminal investigations in U.S. history.

But a few months earlier than the heist, there was the cold-blooded murder of restaurant owner Jack Tupper, and the subsequent police investigation with a surprising turn of events in the love triangle case.

* * *

On Tuesday, December 30, 1930, Howard “Buddy” Jacobson was born in Brooklyn, New York, in the neighborhood of Flatbush. His father, Joseph, was an executive for a hat company and his mother, Florence, was the sibling of three of the biggest names in horse racing: Sidney, Eugene, and Hirsch Jacobs. Patrice Wolfson, Hirsch’s daughter, and her husband, Louis Wolfson, owned the Thoroughbred Affirm, which won the Triple Crown in 1978.7

As such, Buddy got a head start, biologically speaking, in entering the exciting world of equestrian sports. By the age of eleven, he was “walking hots” for Eugene Jacobs, his maternal uncle, before the start of school, “and decided then and there that he wanted to be a trainer.”8

Jacobson dropped out of high school, deciding to follow his Uncle Eugene to Florida in 1949, where Buddy worked as a “hot walker,” in “cooling sweaty horses.”9 In 1952, Jacobson was promoted to foreman by Eugene. Following a stretch as a merchant marine, Jacobson became further entrenched in the horse training business and found big success.

In 1963, the thirty-two-year-old Jacobson had become North America’s foremost Thoroughbred trainer. The following year, he was “handling some thirty horses for eleven owners, [was] running an equipment firm, three cattle ranches, a vanning company, and a horse farm.”10

By 1965, Buddy Jacobson had “saddled 198 winners and was the nation’s most successful trainer for the third straight year.”11 According to Jacobson, at the time of his accomplishments: “You learn by trial and error, and just make sure you don’t repeat a mistake.”12

Unlike many trainers, he was seen as approaching horse racing in business terms, or making money. Jacobson was quoted as saying, with regard to his winning formula at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York: “You have to move fast. Buy, Sell, Keep active. You’ve got to wheel and deal. Stand still and you’re dead.”13

The “wonder boy,” as Buddy Jacobson was referred to in 1967 with his impressive accomplishments, was compared favorably in a press release from the Pimlico Race Course with a similarly successful member of his family: “Not since his uncle, Hirsch Jacobs, began his unprecedented assault on the nation’s winner’s circles in 1933 has a young trainer made as great an impact on the sport.”14

Along the way of his climb to the top as a racehorse trainer, Buddy Jacobson married and he and his wife, Joan, had two children, David and Douglas, and owned farms on Long Island and in Upstate New York. But Jacobson’s seemingly charmed life was about to fall apart...

On Friday, May 16, 1969, Jacobson, the then president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association, New York chapter, was given an indefinite suspension for violating “the rules of racing in the claims of three horses at Bowie last illegally selling or transferring them.”15 Earlier in the month, Jacobson and other trainers had “participated in a nine-day boycott of the entry box at protest of the New York legislature’s failure to act on a bill to establish the pension fund.”16

In February 1970, Buddy Jacobson was accused by one of his owners, Sam LaeFrak, of theft—claiming that the trainer “cheated him out of $14,500 by lying about some horse details.”17 Though Jacobson attributed the mix-up to a “bookkeeping error,” in March 1970, he was suspended by the New York Racing Association for forty-five days after “a hearing was conducted and the judgment was made on Jacobson based on findings.”18

As a further consequence of the allegations, he was barred from getting stall space for his horses. Embittered by the suspension, Jacobson argued that “a conspiracy exists to force him out of racing,” amounting to a “death sentence” for him as a horse trainer.19 (Jacobson would go on to file a suit against the New York Racing Association for $8 million for denying his stall space. His efforts fell short. On Monday, June 17, 1974, the New York State Supreme Court ruled against him in upholding the association’s authority in this matter).20

The thirty-nine-year-old Jacobson was now divorced and, with the world of racing turning its back on him, he began to turn his professional and personal attention elsewhere.

In December 1970, he purchased the Norway Ski Lodge in Vermont, calling it a place “for singles [and] swingers...[with] a party [there] every night....”21 The following year, Jacobson acquired “two tenements on East 84th Street, paying $75,000 in cash on the $245,000 price.”22 The tenements were torn down and replaced with a seven-story apartment building “at 155 East 84th...between Lexington and Third.”23

According to Buddy Jacobson: “I bought a sledge and a crowbar [and] built it in eight months. Once you get past the first floor, you know as much as anybody.”24

It was at this point that Jacobson met the striking, much younger, Melanie Cain and both of their lives would eventually take a dramatic and dark turn.

* * *

One article described Buddy Jacobson’s fascination with fashion model Melanie Cain as “young and beautiful, she graced the covers of Cosmopolitan and Redbook. With her on his arm, he chased his lost youth and reputation.”25

As for eighteen-year-old Melanie, she found herself quickly attracted to the man who was her landlord. Believing him to be twenty-nine, instead of his actual forty-three years of age, she thought Buddy looked a bit “like Charlie Chaplain—lean face, bushy mustache, unruly dark hair.”26 She even “liked the two teenage boys he introduced as his brothers.”27 Unbeknownst to her at the time, these were Jacobson’s teen sons.

Buddy and Melanie wound up living together... “the $100,000 face and the once famous horse trainer.”28 Till they were no longer, triggering events in which there would be no turning back.

Melanie Cain grew up in the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Naperville, living there till 1972 when her family relocated to New Jersey a year shy of becoming a high school senior. The following year, she headed off to New York to embark on a career in modeling, catching on with the Ford Modeling Agency. Succeeding where thousands of other wannabee aspiring models failed, the chestnut-haired Melanie appealed to the agency co-founder Eileen Ford as someone who had it all: “Five-feet eight [and a half] inches tall. 34-24-34. Brown hair. Blue eyes. And that special something else.”29

Melanie likely exceeded her wildest dreams with the Ford Agency, appearing as a cover girl on Seventeen, Cosmo, and more. With this success, she and two other models with the agency moved into a ground floor unit at the East 84th Street apartment building that featured “wrought iron electronic security system...a pool [and] sun deck.”30 Ultimately, they would relocate to a seventh-floor apartment, which years later would be occupied by Jack Tupper, who would play a big part in Melanie’s life and times.

In the meantime, Melanie and her friends liked dining at a chic local restaurant called Nicola’s. As did her landlord, Buddy Jacobson. The two hit it off and were said to have relished in their celebrity at the place, typically “occupying a front table under one of her Cosmopolitan covers and a picture of him with a Belmont winner.”31 Melanie would move into Buddy’s apartment that was just across the hall from the one she was occupying, and they would live together for the next five years. Their personal and professional relationship was rumored to even include Melanie investing in one or more horses Jacobson owned.

In July 1974, an apparent false rumor that Melanie and a roommate were starting their own agency and seeking to lure models away from the Ford Agency led to their firing by Eileen Ford. As a consequence, with Jacobson mostly bankrolling it, Melanie opened the My Fair Lady modeling agency, naming it after the musical she loved. She was seemingly at the top of her game as the girlfriend of a wealthy celebrity horse trainer and a businesswoman. Described in a 1976 article as an “All-American girl,” who made it big in the world of modeling, photographer Francesco Scavullo had recently named her “one of the year’s top models.”32

Even so, Melanie knew that the realities of the industry did not measure up to its façade, stating candidly:

Most people don’t have the faintest idea what modeling is all about.... They think it’s just a glamorous life.... They don’t know about the riding on subways...the blisters.... The cattle calls that are made to all the agencies at once.... You get there and find the room full of girls, each prettier than the next... Models have the biggest, ugliest feet because they walk so much....33

These issues notwithstanding, she tried to use her own experience and Jacobson’s business acumen to make My Fair Lady a big success in perhaps the toughest place to succeed for a modeling agency. As opposed to girls “getting lost” in the large agencies, they took in no more than twenty-five model hopefuls “so they [could] be given more personal attention.”34

According to Jacobson: “We get dozens of calls a day. There are at least 3,000 models in New York right now and only a maximum of a hundred who have something to do every day.”35

Of those who made the grade at My Fair Lady, Melanie contended: “A model these days can’t just be pretty. She has to be versatile, to look like a fluffy-haired junior one day and a more sophisticated type with straight hair the next.”36

Though My Fair Lady brought in as much as $100,000 a year, largely on the strength of Melanie’s own modeling, the agency failed to survive the cutthroat competition in the business and the scandal that would ensue for the business partners and former lovers with the death of restaurateur Jack Tupper during the summer of 1978.

The same would prove to be true for the relationship between Melanie and Jacobson, which was starting to run its course, but not for lack of trying by Buddy to hang onto his attractive young girlfriend. He handed Melanie an engagement ring, but never got her hand in marriage.

Things began to further head in the wrong direction when Melanie began a friendship and ill-fated romance with the man who had moved into her old apartment across the hall in the building the previous year, Jack Tupper.

* * *

When thirty-four-year-old John “Jack” Tupper moved out of his fifth-floor apartment and into one on the seventh floor of the building on East 84th Street, not far from the bar he once owned on Third Avenue called the All Ireland, he likely never considered that he would fall for his striking twenty-three-year-old new neighbor, Melanie Cain, with whom he formed a camaraderie as jogging buddies. Or that, in the process, it would prove to be a fatal attraction.

But fall for her he did. And vice versa, which turned out to be the beginning of the end of a romance doomed to failure in less than a month.

Divorced and the doting father of a ten-year-old son, Tupper was around six feet tall, with a chubby face, and on the husky side. He was described as nice and “a moral person who would do the right thing.”37

Growing up in Queens, Tupper attended St. John’s University, where he received a master’s degree in business. He ran a restaurant-bar, The Sherwood Inn, in Queens prior to relocating to Manhattan.

The platonic friendship between Tupper and Melanie took a different direction after she allegedly confessed to him during a jog one day: “I have a crush on you.”38

Not long after, Melanie moved out of Buddy Jacobson’s apartment and back across the hall to the apartment she had vacated five years ago to live with Jack Tupper. Apart from tiring of the unhappy relationship she had with Jacobson, who had become possessive and domineering, Melanie had supposedly fallen in love with Tupper and believed they would get married.

Tupper may or may not have been of the same mind, which is in dispute. According to his family, his involvement with Melanie romantically was “only because he felt complimented by her affections and...wanted to help her out of the brutal relationship with Jacobson.”39

For her part, Melanie was quoted as saying later, with respect to the notion of marrying Tupper, whom she claimed proposed to her and not the other way around: “I don’t know why I said yes. Maybe I thought this guy was better than the other guy and I wanted stability.... I was in shock.”40

Either way, Tupper had chosen to become involved in a dangerous love triangle, while hoping Buddy would back down and let Melanie go.

Unfortunately, Jacobson would not go away easily and was determined to get his attractive young girlfriend back—one way or the other. This included allegedly offering Tupper $100,000 or to buy him a new restaurant-bar if he broke things off with Melanie. Unbeknownst to Jacobson, Tupper had recorded at least one offer on tape in secret.41

As for Melanie, she only wanted to get on with her life and away from Jacobson, convincing herself that they could somehow “handle it like adults.”42

Buddy Jacobson was apparently unwilling to lose her that easily.

* * *

Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-12 show above.)