*~ January, 2009 -- Page 1 ~*
Death Lawsuit Against Town Center Mall Names More Defendants
January 2, 2009
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.
Murders Have Cast Pall on High-End Boca Raton Shopping Center
By THOMAS BERMAN
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
Boca Raton Police Capt. Matt Duggan
said talk about a serial killer is irresponsible.
'Get In the Car Now!'
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
"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.
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
"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
Mother and Daughter Shot Dead
"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,
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?
Police are asking anyone with information about the cases to come forward.
20/20 Video: http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=6742408&page=1
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
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: http://www.wpbf.com/news/18607169/detail.html