South Florida Media Coverage

*~ January, 2009 -- Page 1 ~*

In Loving Memory Of
Nancy Bochicchio & her daughter,
Joey Noel Bochicchio-Hauser

Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Town Center Mall Names More Defendants (1/2/09)
New Theories, Still No Suspect in Deadly Attacks (1/28/09)
Mall Homicide Victim's Sister Says Police Didn't Warn Them (1/30/09)

Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Town Center Mall Names More Defendants

January 2, 2009
Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Town Center Mall in Boca Raton for Murders of Mother and Daughter Names More Defendants

More property owners have named as defendants in the Florida wrongful death lawsuit filed for the murders of Nancy Bochicchio and her 7-year-old daughter Joey Bochicchio-Hauser. The two of them were found dead in their SUV in the parking lot of the Town Center mall in Boca Raton on December 12, 2007 after they were kidnapped, robbed, and shot.

In January 2008, Nancy’s sister, JoAnn Bruno, sued Simon Property Group, the owner of the Town Center mall, for wrongful death. Her complaint accused the mall’s owner of knowing there were security issues—especially in the wake of two other abductions that may have occurred on the premise that year—yet failing to do more to protect shoppers and other patrons.

Now, Sears Roebuck & Co, Burdine’s Real Estate Inc., Bloomingdale’s Boca Raton Real Estate Inc., and trustees Michael L. Johnson, Hans C. Mautner, G. Martin Fell, Mark S. Ticotin, and J. Michael Maloney have been added to Bruno’s amended Florida wrongful death lawsuit, which she filed last month. She is also accusing these property owners of failing to provide adequate security to patrons despite knowing about the other crimes.

In March 2007, the body of Boca Raton resident Randi Gorenberg was found after she was seen leaving the Town Center mall. Her husband Stewart sued Simon Property Group and Town Center at Boca Raton Mall for her wrongful death.

In August 2007, a woman and her toddler son were abducted and robbed outside the Town Center mall. Fortunately, they survived. The public however, was not made fully aware of the details of the crime and it wasn’t until after the deaths of Nancy and Joey that an enhanced surveillance camera system was installed on the premise.

Shopping mall owners and store owners must provide proper security on their properties so that patrons do not become the victims of crimes. Failure to provide this duty of care can be grounds for a Florida premise liability or wrongful death lawsuit.

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New Theories, Still No Suspect in Deadly Attacks

Murders Have Cast Pall on High-End Boca Raton Shopping Center

Jan. 28, 2009

Thousands of people swarm to the vast and luxurious Town Center Mall every day. But one man who went to the Boca Raton, Fla., shopping center in August 2007 was shopping only for a victim.

The man abducted a woman and her 2-year-old son in their black sport utility vehicle from the mall parking lot. Although the woman and son survived uninjured, she remains terrorized to this day. The woman, who asked to be identified as Jane Doe, worries that the man will hunt her down and kill her to protect his identity.

She's convinced that the same man later murdered another woman and her 7-year-old daughter. That woman, Nancy Bochicchio, was also driving a black SUV, shopping at the same mall and was bound in a similar fashion, according to police. The only difference was that Jane Doe and her son survived, and Bochicchio and her daughter, Joey, did

And the worry does not end there. A few months before Jane Doe's abduction, a woman named Randi Gorenberg who, once again, was driving a black SUV and shopping at the same mall, was found killed a few miles away.

Jane Doe's lawyer, Skip Cummings, believes that the same man is responsible for the attack, and that he's on the loose in the area of Florida known as the Gold Coast.

"I believe that this gentleman is a serial killer," he said. "I believe very strongly that he is involved in at least three of these murders -- and who knows how many other ones?"

But the Boca Raton Police Department and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office detective who are working the cases lack the evidence to know for sure, and they haven't ruled out anything. "I think these are unique cases," Palm Beach Sheriff's Office Capt. Jack Strenges said. "As far as calling it a serial killer, by definition, I can't commit to that."

Boca Raton Police Capt. Matt Duggan said talk about a serial killer is irresponsible.

"We have no direct forensic links at this point actually linking all three cases," he said. "But we are confident that the August [Jane
Doe] and December [Nancy Bochicchio] case occurred by the same individual."

'Get In the Car Now!'

But even that possible link has raised questions. Some wonder why the public didn't hear about the Jane Doe case until after the Bochicchio killings.

Jane Doe believes it is because the police doubted her story.

"I just couldn't believe that it was taken so lightly," she said. "It's kind of sad, but I said, 'Did I have to be murdered to be taken

Jane Doe said it all began as a normal shopping trip. She drove to the mall with her young son and parked her black Lincoln Navigator near the Nordstrom department store. After about two hours of shopping, she walked back to the vehicle and placed her son in his car seat in the rear passenger side. Then, she said, after putting some shopping bags in the front passenger seat and the stroller in the back, she walked around the SUV to the driver's seat.

Only then, she said, did she hear her son cry out for her. That's when, she said, she looked back into the car and was shocked to
see a man seated there next to her boy holding a gun to his head.

"I was shaking, and I was just in disbelief that this was happening," she said. "He said, 'Get in the car now.'"

She described the man as about 6 feet tall, white or Hispanic, with a medium build. He had a ponytail and was wearing a floppy hat and sunglasses. She said she begged him not to hurt them and just take what he wanted, but what he wanted was for her to start driving.

"He just said drive to the bank,' she said. "He didn't raise his voice, he wasn't angry, wasn't yelling, wasn't frantic."

She said he seemed to know what he was doing. She didn't want to try to yell for help because her son was strapped in the car seat and the man was pointing his gun at him.

The Worst Part

After being ordered to an ATM, Jane Doe withdrew all the money she could -- $600 -- and hoped the man would let them go, she said. Instead, he told her to drive to a remote spot where he ordered her out of the car. He then handcuffed her wrists and used plastic zip ties to bind her feet and her neck to the headrest in the rear seat next to her child, she said.

He then pulled out onto the highway, in what Jane Doe said was the worst part of the ordeal.

"I remember seeing people in cars passing me and just wondering how no one knows, you know, that this is happening to us," she said. "No one knows that there is this horror going on inside this car. No one knows that I'm going to die today." But in the hour or so they were together, driving and briefly conversing, Jane Doe said she somehow sensed a change in her abductor. Once cold and calculating, he slowly warmed to her. Eventually, she said, he turned the SUV around and returned to the parking lot. Leaving the engine running, he got out and took her driver's license.

But before he left, she said, he gave her a warning: He'd come back for her if she described him to the police.

Jane Doe said she was able to slip her feet through her handcuffed wrists, pop the headrest to free her neck and maneuver into the driver's seat. Feet still bound, she drove to a nearby valet stand where the police were called, she said.

Sympathetic, but Skeptical

But, she said, police didn't seem to believe her story. She said they made insinuations that her account didn't make sense, and that she might have been seeking attention. "Why would I do this for attention?" she asked. "I'm with my child. I'm like, 'I didn't zip tie myself and handcuff myself.' I'm like 'I had marks up and down my neck with blood ... and I did that to myself?'"

The police said it's not that they weren't sympathetic, but that it's their job to be skeptical. "Unfortunately, I wish it weren't this way, but not everything we are told is the truth," Duggan said. "We had some concerns about her story. ... Some of it didn't add up."

The detectives wondered how Jane Doe could have gotten out of the restraints in the way she'd described. They also initially found no proof she went through the highway toll booths, as she'd claimed. Finally, she failed a lie detector test.

But now, after investigating the case, police said they believe Jane Doe. Still, during the investigation, the police issued a news
release that contained only the details they'd been able to confirm. The release described Jane Doe's case as "an alleged armed robbery" and said nothing about the abduction or holding a gun to a child's head.

"They blew it," said Randy Schultz, editorial page editor of the Palm Beach Post.

His paper treated the story based on the merit of the news release -- a small item buried deep within the paper's police blotter. Not knowing the full extent of the story, no other media outlet even mentioned the case.

On the other hand, Randi Gorenberg's case had received extensive publicity. The 53-year-old mother of two had been shot and
killed nearly five months earlier by someone who'd dumped her body in a park slightly north of Boca in broad daylight. The crime was shocking, but police initially suspected Gorenberg was killed by someone she knew. Even though she had been driving a black SUV and had last been seen shopping at the same mall, detectives suspected no link to the Jane Doe case. John Rulli, president of the Simon Property Group, said mall management provided ample security but had relied on police to advise them. Police gave management no cause for alarm, Rulli said.

Mother and Daughter Shot Dead

That's why Nancy Bochicchio, who had always been a very protective mother, had no reservations about taking her daughter, Joey, to go Christmas shopping at the mall, Bochicchio's sister Joann Bruno said. If there had been more publicity about the Jane Doe case, Bruno is certain her sister would never have taken the child that day, she said. The two were found shot dead inside the family's Chrysler Aspen SUV, bound in a manner similarly described by Jane Doe. Bruno said she is furious that the Jane Doe case was never publicized. Duggan defended his department's actions, saying there's no way to know if releasing additional information about the Jane Doe case would have stopped the mother and daughter from going to the mall at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

"The public needs to know that we didn't immediately look at this [Jane Doe] case and say, 'You know what, we've got some concerns about this story; we are done with it'," he said. Although the investigation continues, there is no viable suspect. However, just last month, the Palm Beach Sheriff's office announced that detectives believe Randi Gorenberg's husband, Stuart,
had allegedly been seeing prostitutes in a high crime area for some time. They speculate that it is possible someone could have followed his Mercedes SUV at some point and knew where the family lived.

They wonder if perhaps Randi Gorenberg, who did not usually drive the SUV but was on that fateful day, could have somehow been an unintended victim. Gorenberg's lawyer denied that his client ever used prostitutes and said the whole theory is ridiculous. He points out if this was supposed to be a crime about money, why was the vehicle and valuable jewelry left behind?

So the mystery goes on and the blame game has begun. All three families are suing the mall, which denies responsibility and says it provided ample security.

Police are asking anyone with information about the cases to come forward.

20/20 Video:

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Mall Homicide Victim's Sister Says Police Didn't Warn Them
Nancy Bochicchio, Daughter Killed 4 Months After Another Carjacking
POSTED: 5:51 pm EST January 30, 2009

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Joanne Bruno can't bring herself to change one thing in her slain sister's house from the Christmas tree to the still unopened gifts.

"Honestly, I know it sounds strange but I just can't believe they're not coming back," said Bruno.

It's been over a year and the case of Nancy and 7-year-old Joey Bochicchio's murders at the Town Center at Boca Raton are still unsolved.

Jay Schadler, of the ABC show 20/20 is profiling the case Friday night. He told WPBF 25 Reporter Terri Parker one question he has is whether the Boca Raton police were negligent in not warning the public about a previous mother child abduction at the mall.

Bruno said there was only one small blurb in the local paper about the crime. "It was kind of hushed up between the mall and the police, it never came out."

The similarities between the cases were chilling: two women with small children in SUVs abducted from the mall at gunpoint. Both were handcuffed, blindfolded with goggles and taken to ATMs.

The first victim alleged police never took her seriously; that is until the Bochicchios were found cuffed, blindfolded and dead in their SUV four months later. Then police acknowledged they thought the same man was behind both carjackings.

Bruno said her sister would never have taken Joey to the mall if she'd known about the previous attack. "And I think if it had come out my sister would be here, I honestly believe that."

Police speculate the killer let the first victim go because she was cooperative. Nancy Bocchichio apparently fought back, slicing her wrist to the bone to get out of the handcuffs and ripping the duct tape off Joey's eyes.

Police think the killer panicked and shot them both. The idea makes Bruno break down in tears.

"It makes me wonder, did Joey see her mother get shot, or did my sister see Joey shot?" Bruno said.

Bruno holds out hope that the 20/20 show might bring a fresh lead. At this point it's her only hope. "It's devastating, after what he did to them, he's still out there."

Video Link:

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