Ricky Kasso, 18 and Life

I was listening to this song the other day, 18 and Life by Skid Row.  A friend was with me at the time and said that it was so vapid it had to be based on a real person.  I did not think it was, but I did a little digging and come to find out, it (loosely) was.


This song was written by Skid Row guitarist Dave Sabo born and raised in Sayreville, New Jersey, who wrote it after reading in the newspaper about a teen murdering another teen, in neighboring Long Island.

Ricky Kasso, a Northport, Long Island 17 year old, murdered his friend/acquaintance/hanger-on, Gary Lauwers, also 17, who stole drugs from him while he was in a drug and alcohol induced slumber.  I have read several stories about the murder, and some say it was LSD Gary stole, others say angel dust.  The ‘friend’ promised to repay him but time passed and he never got around to getting Ricky his money.

Ricky was wearing this ACDC shirt at the time of his arrest.  The shirt was definitely a big part of the media sensationalizing the story

Ricky spent hours in the library and loved to read.  Anton LeVey’s, The Satanic Bible was his favorite, because he felt the book spoke to him.  He became a self professed satanist and the kids that wanted to hang around Ricky went along with his seances and other black magic rituals.  Seemed a small price to pay for a steady drug source.

Ricky also enjoyed hanging out with his friends at Cow Park which is best known for it’s criminal activity, or blasting Black Sabbath by bonfire in the Aztakea Woods of Northport, which is where Ricky was on the night of June 16, 1984 along with Gary Lauwers, Albert Quinones and Ricky’s BFF Jimmy Troiano (below), where all the boys had taken huge quantities of LSD.

No one knows what happened exactly,  through out the course of the evening.  Not even the people that were there.  Having taken roughly 14 hits of acid, Troiano gave several different versions of the night, and when pressed for giving such varying accounts he replied “it’s difficult to remember exactly what happened, when the stars are racing across the sky and the trees are melting”.  The particulars will never be known. What is known, is that Ricky stabbed Gary repeatedly, shouting over and over again “Say you love Satan”.  Gary refused, saying only “I love my mother”.

In a scene out of River’s Edge, Ricky took his friends on group tours, to look at the decomposing body, in the weeks that followed.  At some point a call was made to the police and an anonymous tip lead police to Gary Lauwer’s body.  Within days Ricky and Jimmy were picked up, and Ricky the proud killer, confessed to the murder, implicating Jimmy as an accessory.  Ricky hung himself in jail the next day leaving Jimmy the only person alive to take the rap.

Albert Quinones turned state’s evidence and testified that Jimmy held Gary down while he was being stabbed, Jimmy denied it.  In an early statement to police, Quinones said that he had seen a lion in the woods, but when asked about the lion on cross examination, he denied the statement.  The defense attorney then read a newspaper story about a lion escaping from a circus at the time of the murder, to which Quinones said , “you mean I really did see the lion?”  In the end neither testimony could be used and Jimmy was found not guilty and set free.

I read in a book that shortly before the murder, the only girl Ricky ever loved was sent away to live with relatives, in an effort to exorcise her choice in boys, and that she had committed suicide just days before the murder.  The book had typos and misinformation so I’m not sure how much of that was true.  But it definitely adds even more layers to an already dark, twisted story.

Ricky’s family believed him to be schizophrenic and had him institutionalized several times through out his short life.  In rehab Ricky would not give an inch.  He said that he loved drugs and would never give them up.  His family felt they had no choice but to boot him out of the house.  His family identified his body in the morgue then his body was cremated and his ashes left unclaimed.