*~ June, 2008 -- Page 1 ~*
Dateline to profile Town Center
BOCA RATON, FL-- Tonight, we'll learn even more about three murders connected to Boca Raton's Town Center Mall.
In an hour long program Dateline NBC will reveal what they've uncovered about the deaths of Nancy Bocchicchio, her daughter Joey and Randi Gorenberg.
For the first time, we will see the face of the woman attacked at the mall in August.
The woman police believe was kidnapped at gunpoint by the same man who killed Nancy and Joey Bocchicchio shares more of her disturbing encounter and why she wants to see him again.
"I'd like to see him. I 'd like to see him get caught. I'd just like to be able to just look in his eyes you know, to see who this person was that did this to me and that did this to Nancy and Joey and possibly Randi, yeah," the woman says.
Also in the piece tonight, Boca Raton police explain why they originally questioned the validity of the woman's story and why this could be connected to the murder of Randi Gorenberg.
Also, a former FBI agent shares why despite that, this is likely not the work of a serial killer.
You'll see that story only here on Newschannel 5 when
Dateline NBC airs tonight from 9 until 10.
Story posted 2008.06.01 at 05:12 PM EDT
By Leon Fooksman |South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The only known survivor of the mysterious killings and carjackings centered on the Town Center mall in Boca Raton detailed her harrowing experience for a national television audience Sunday, describing her abductor as meticulous and well-prepared — packing a "kidnapping kit" containing novelty store handcuffs, tie-wraps, and blacked out swimmer's goggles.
Also in the Dateline NBC show, for the first time publicly, investigators more conclusively linked the killer to multiple crimes, including what may have been his first, the abduction and murder of wealthy 52-year-old West Boca Raton mother Randi Gorenberg.
After Gorenberg's murder in March 2007, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Capt. Jack Strenges said, the killer changed his operating method.
"Obviously, the way he does business has changed," he said. "He's incorporated a child into the scenario now. So, obviously, they're going to be a little more willing to go along with what the killer's demands are."
Dateline dedicated the first hour of its two-hour show to the abductions and murders in Boca Raton, devoting lengthy portions to the account of the 31-year-old woman who has played a vital role in the ongoing investigation.
Wearing a disguise and identified only as Jane Doe, the woman said the killer was methodical and scrupulously avoided surveillance cameras, even when he forced her to withdraw $600 at an ATM.
"He was calm. He thought about everything he did," she said.
The woman was abducted along with her 2-year-old son as she got into her SUV at the mall, forced to drive to the cash machine and then left tied up in the mall's parking lot Aug. 7.
Noting the striking similarities in the series of crimes, Strenges acknowledged what others have hinted at previously: that one man might be behind them all.
"Personally, I don't believe in a coincidence," he said. "I think there's some significant connections with the SUVs, the locations, stuff like that."
The methods used by the woman's attacker are almost identical to those in the carjacking, robbing and murders of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser. They were shopping at the mall hours before they were found bound and shot to death in their SUV in the mall parking lot Dec. 12. They were robbed of $500 at an ATM.
Prior to Sunday's Dateline episode, detectives from Boca Raton and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office had declined to say definitively that the same assailant was involved in Gorenberg's murder. She also was last seen leaving Town Center mall in an SUV on March 23, 2007. She was found about 40 minutes later, shot in the head and dumped behind a civic center west of Delray Beach. She too was robbed: of her purse, phone and shoes. She didn't carry an ATM card, her mother, Idey Elias, told Dateline.
The crimes have stoked fear in South Florida and fascination across the country — partly at the suggestions that a serial robber or killer may be behind the attacks.
In February, John Walsh, the host of the Fox Network show America's Most Wanted, caused a stir when he stood beside Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and declared that a " horrible, cunning and pathological monster" is responsible for the attacks. Until then, the cases had been investigated together by a team of detectives, but no one had suggested publicly that the same person carried out the attacks.
A nine-member task force formed in mid-January to investigate the incidents has spent more than $108,000, including almost $94,000 on overtime for officers and $14,700 on DNA testing, records show.
The victim who spoke with Dateline, however, says she sees her abductor's face "every day."
"I'd like to see him get caught," she said." I'd like to be able to just look in his eyes and see who this person was who did this to me and then do this to Nancy and Joey, and possibly Randi."
Leon Fooksman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6647.
By DAVE ROSSMAN |Forum Publishing Group
There seems to be no such thing as a safe place these days, so awareness of what's around you is of paramount importance.
Toward this end, a group of concerned citizens and business owners recently put together an Awareness Festival at the Boca Raton YMCA, 6631 Palmetto Circle South, in hopes of educating people about strategies they can use to avoid becoming victims.
The event was held in honor of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio, the mother and daughter murdered at Town Center mall last December. Their killer still has not been found, despite some highly publicized efforts by law enforcement.
"I saw the pictures of Nancy and Joey repeatedly and just began to feel personally connected," said Carol Johnson-Greff, one of the organizers of the Awareness Festival. "With all of the crime going on every day, we absolutely have to be aware in every situation."
On hand at the Y were several displays, along with demonstrations of self-defense techniques for adults and children, food and entertainment. Proceeds from the festival benefited both the YMCA and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Joni Tabano of Boca Raton said she was impressed with the sense of community cohesion at the festival. "It is very nice to see people pull together for such a great cause, and I definitely came away with beneficial information."
Rudy Rodriguez, a partner in World Racing Team, said he was on board with supporting the festival immediately when he found out about it. "I met Joey and Nancy very briefly last year, and they just gave off this ray of light."
Rodriguez said he was contacted by Johnson-Greff, who asked him to reach out to contacts in the entertainment industry through his WRT partner, who works with a national entertainment management firm.
"Everyone I talked to was more than willing to help, and we plan on spreading this initiative nationwide," he said, "and we have an upcoming event in Atlanta."
Heather Davis, who helped coordinate the event, said the information was extremely helpful. "There were so many good tips like how to hold your keys, or how to use a folded magazine to strike an attacker's temple." she said. "You have to be aware of your surroundings, and it doesn't matter if you are coming out of a grocery store or wherever."
Dave Rossman can be reached at
email@example.com or 954-871-1232.
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Boca Raton city leaders set a plan in motion on Thursday for a city-wide video monitoring system.The system would take video security to another level, police said. It's something that's already being done in Chicago and New York City, WPBF News 25 reported.While Boca police said it's a crime-fighting tool, some people think it's an invasion of privacy.
"It's a huge tool for us that we see enhancing public safety in our city," Boca Raton police Chief Dan Alexander said.The system would link current traffic cameras, public building cameras and possibly those on private property -- including the Town Center Mall and Mizner Park. The system would be monitored from a central location called the Fusion Center.
Alexander said with the new system, police will be able to collect real-time information as crimes occur and collect better evidence." After events occur, to be able to go back from an investigative standpoint, there are a number of high-profile events in which people have seen video," Alexander said.
That was the case with the Town Center Mall slayings. In December, Nancy Bochicchio and her daughter, Joey, were kidnapped from the mall and killed. Weeks later, surveillance video of the pair was released. While it has yet to lead detectives to a killer, they said they're continuing to hold out hope. In March 2007, Randi Gorenberg was shot and thrown out of her SUV in Delray Beach. Surveillance video also caught her leaving the Boca Town Center Mall.The public has a mixed reaction about the new system.
"It's important that the public knows someone is watching what they're doing," Boca Raton resident Sandy Alfasi said."I think it's a violation of privacy," Boca Raton resident Shawn Landeck said. "I don't care for it."Alexander said he stands behind the safety of the system."We want to apply a system that makes sense for public safety," he said. "We don't want to go into areas where there is not a legitimate law enforcement need. We want a system that keeps our people safe."
City commissioners hired a consultant to outline a plan for the city-wide security system. The plans go before the commission for further review in 90 days.
Copyright 2008 by WPBF.com. All
rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
BOCA RATON, FL -- Detectives from Boca Raton Police and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office investigating the three unsolved murders at Boca Raton's Town Center Mall say the physical evidence has been processed. Now, they've released a 9-1-1 call from the morning the Bochicchio's were found dead.
Only on NewsChannel 5 and WPTV.com, a look into the investigation surrounding the three unsolved murders that have haunted a community.
Randi Gorenberg was last seen leaving the Town Center Mall at Boca Raton a year ago March.
Joey and Nancy Bochicchio were found dead inside their SUV last December.
Investigators are now evaluating the value of the forensic evidence, specifically evidence from the Bochicchio case.
Police released the 911 call from Town Center Mall security, the call that came in that December morning from a man who discovered Nancy and Joey Bochicchio inside an idling SUV.
Caller: I have a car parked over by Sears on south side. Two people in there and... the door. They're sleeping in there. I don't know what's going on, what happened to them. Uh, I'll do whatever I want, they don't wake up. I don't know, if you can could send a police over here to check the car for me please?
It has been over six months since the Bochicchio murders.
It has been ten months since another mother and her child survived a similar abduction outside Town Center. In both cases, investigators say a man forces the women to a nearby ATM machine in handcuffs, zip ties, and goggles.
Following the Bochicchio crimes, Boca Raton Police Department detectives and Palm Beach County Sheriff's detectives on the Gorenberg case united.
"We saw that hey they were all at the mall, they were all in SUV's, Randi Gorenberg was a woman by herself who apparently tried to get out of the vehicle and then was shot. The M-O changed a little bit but there was a nexus of the mall, the type of SUV that gets you up off the ground so its kind of hard to see what goes on in the vehicles, they had tinted windows," says Task Force member and PBSO Violent Crimes Division Captain Jack Strenges.
Strenges and Boca Raton Police Investigative Services Bureau Captain Matthew Duggan say the Task Force team's nine members search for a suspect on a daily basis.
Duggan says the Task Force members still meet as a group once a week and of the nearly one thousand tips that have poured in, they have followed up on 90% of them.
A false alarm in Aventura was the only lead made public.
"You know, a thousand leads so far obviously there have been some people of interest that we've disproved as being involved for various means and it really wouldn't be fair to those individuals to put their names out there today," says Duggan.
The Task Force will continue to put out the suspect sketch. They will continue to tap into local resources like the PBSO crime lab and they have consulted national ones, like the FBI.
The signs on the door to Task Force headquarters remain, "This is why we're here," they read.
The signs have pictures of the Bochicchio's and Randi Gorenberg and steps away sit the case files on tables and on the wall, maps of the suspect routes.
"There's been a lot said about how organized this guy was in some of his cases. That the two at Town Center Mall, the Bochicchio and the Jane Doe (August abduction) case, it showed a great level of planning on the offender's part. What happened at Mizner Park is totally contrary to any of that type of stuff," says Duggan.
The Task Force investigators believe they are dealing with the same suspect in the Bochiccio and "Jane Doe" August abduction cases.
"Is he from Boca Raton, is he from Delray Beach, is he from Boynton Beach, is he from Palm Beach County, is he from Martin County or Broward County? – we don't know that. We just know what we have in front of us here and it's not a lot other than a composite," says Strenges.
Investigators have welcomed national media attention from programs like Dateline NBC and America's Most Wanted because they not only believe someone somewhere knows something about the suspect or suspects, they also believe there could be more victims.
"There may be a victim out there who for some reason is hesitant to come forward, this is the opportunity now," says Strenges.
This is a story that continues to shake this South Florida community, especially those closest to it, not only family members and friends of the victims, but investigators too.
"We want to be able to meet this challenge and bring some closure for all the families of the victims and put this guy in jail," says Strenges.
"In the Police Academy, they tell you, 'Don't take this stuff personal. Don't get personally involved in cases,' but you know, Jack will tell you, there's no way you can work a case like this without taking it personal. You go home, you see your kids, they're a similar age, you think about Joey when you're at home. You go to soccer practice. Parents want to know, 'What's going on? Is it safe at the mall?' These are the type of questions, it never, it just never leaves you and it probably won't leave you 'til you solve the case and even then, I'm not sure this case will ever completely leave us," says Duggan.
A $350,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to an arrest in the Bochicchio case. Anyone with information in any of the cases is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.
People Weekly Page: 119
After three murders and one close escape, questions
- and jitters - persist at a posh Boca Raton shopping center
Joey never got that year. Security cameras show that she and Bochicchio, 47, a financial adviser, entered the Florida mall at 2:19 p.m., then left 52 minutes later. Shortly before midnight, a security guard phoned the local precinct after spotting a black Chrysler Aspen SUV idling in the mall parking lot. When police opened the doors, they found Bochicchio and Joey bound with cheap novelty store handcuffs, plastic ties and duct tape, their eyes covered with blackened goggles. They'd been shot to death at point blank range.
Shocking as Boca residents found the murders, they were even more stunned to learn that during the preceding nine months there had been two other violent incidents involving the mall, each with disturbingly similar features. In March 2007, homemaker Randi Gorenberg, 52, was discovered fatally shot in the head, 38 minutes after pulling away from the mall in her black Mercedes SUV. That August, a 30-year-old woman was carjacked in a mall parking garage while strapping her 2-year-old son into her black SUV. At gunpoint she drove to an ATM machine, made a withdrawal, then was driven back to the mall, where she and her son were left uninjured — the woman bound with flimsy handcuffs, plastic ties and blackened goggles over her eyes. Two months after the December killings, Fox's America's Most Wanted aired a reenactment of Gorenberg's murder. Host John Walsh offered his opinion, describing the perpetrator as "a monster who could be a serial killer."
Police acknowledge they're investigating that possibility. After the December homicides, Captain Jack Strenges of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office tapped the same detectives who for nine months had been looking into Gorenberg's murder. "There are some factors here that can point to one person," says Strenges. "But it's nothing definitive at this point." Boca Raton Police Chief Daniel Alexander notes that the DNA evidence "is not isolated to anyone or anything in particular."
There are, however, enough parallels to make shoppers uneasy. Not only were all three adult victims female, but all drove high-end SUVs with dark tinted windows -- a vehicle that Strenges thinks may have attracted the assailant in each instance. "It sits higher than regular cars," he says. "You can see above traffic." And avoid eye contact with other drivers. "So, there are some advantages for the bad guy," he says. Also, in two of the attacks -- perhaps in Gorenberg's case, too, Strenges says -- the victim was forced to drive to an ATM machine.
But not all aspects match up. In the first murder, the Gorenberg case, no distinctive restraints were found; and she was shopping alone. "Possibly the killer then upped the ante by involving a child," says Strenges, who observes that a woman with a child in tow would be less likely to resist — as would someone in restraints. In fact, goes one police theory, the issue of control may have been the difference between life and death for the carjack survivor and the shooting victims. The carjack survivor and her son did as they were told. Gorenberg apparently resisted by trying to get out of the SUV. Bochicchio's cheap handcuffs were broken, indicating she may have struggled.
As the investigation continues, a $350,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest of the killer or killers. Meanwhile, Boca residents continue to look over their shoulders. Despite stepped-up security at Town Center Mall, Mariel Larrain, a 60ish shopper, says she now only goes there "with my husband, not by myself. I'm scared." The survivor and the families of the two murdered women have filed lawsuits against the mall's owner, charging lax security — which the owner flatly denies. "Apart from these tragic cases," says a spokesperson, "Town Center was and continues to be one of the safest malls in South Florida."
Fifteen months after Gorenberg's death, her mother, Idey Elias, says that she, like Gorenberg's husband and two grown children, still feels shocked and unsafe. "It's so horrible, so senseless," says Elias. "It puts us all on alert: You can't take anything for granted."
Over the past six months, Boca Raton investigators have sifted through nearly 1,000 leads to track down the person who killed a Boca Raton woman and her 7-year-old daughter.
In an effort to generate more leads, police recently released the 911 call alerting them of two bodies in an idling car at the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton.
Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her daughter, Joey, were later found shot to death on Dec. 12 in their SUV in the parking lot of the Boca Raton mall. A similar incident occurred Aug. 7 when a woman and her 2-year-old son were left bound and gagged in her SUV.
On the tape the caller describes two bodies suspiciously sprawled out in the black SUV.
''I have a car parked over by Sears on the south side. Two people in there and -- the door. They're sleeping in there. I don't know what's going on, what happened to them,'' the caller said. ....I'll do whatever I want, they don't wake up. I don't know. If you can, could you send police over here to check the car for me, please?''
A sketch of the suspected killer depicts a man with his hair pulled back in a ponytail. He wore dark sunglasses and gloves. His face was covered with a floppy hat. He was about five-feet six-inches tall.
The city of Boca Raton is offering a reward of up to $350,000 leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information about
the murders can call Boca Raton police at 561-416-3331 or Palm Beach
County CrimeStoppers at 800-458-TIPS (8477).
By Leon Fooksman |South Florida
One night in September, Jeff Cain was abducted from his South Florida hotel room, driven to an ATM and forced to withdraw $500.
"I must have been easy prey," said the 36-year-old Kentucky radio show host, who thinks he was a target because he walked with a cane and was traveling alone.
"Easy prey" is one way to describe the phenomenon of ATM abduction robberies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — quick hits for bandits who see ATMs as a source of cash in tough economic times.
ATM robberies are a kind of criminal no man's land. No authority seems to take clear responsibility for reducing them.
Police aren't required to track them. The banking industry keeps no tally of them. And many banks shun the idea of installing police alert systems at the machines.
As a result, authorities don't closely monitor ATM robberies and don't really know if additional public awareness or more security are needed at machines, criminologists and victims' advocates say.
In the past year alone, at least 11 people in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, North Palm Beach and other cities were kidnapped from their cars, homes and shopping centers, threatened with weapons, then taken to cash machines for money, according to police and news reports.
Some were robbed of hundreds of dollars. Others were beaten or tied up. One woman was raped. Two were shot and killed in the attack linked to the Town Center mall in Boca Raton.
"When you go to an ATM, you have no way to summon anyone for help," said Peter Sosin, whose Boca Raton law firm represents the family of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her daughter, Joey Bochicchio-Hauser, 7, found dead at the Boca Raton mall in December. The two were carjacked in their SUV, ordered to withdraw $500 from an ATM, tied up in their vehicle and fatally shot.
"You are on your own," Sosin said.
Local police and bank officials say violent crimes at ATMs are rare. The most-cited banking survey on the subject was compiled 20 years ago. The conclusion: one ATM crime for every 3.5 million transactions.
More recently, Philadelphia-based inventor Ron Russikoff, who has created an ATM safeguard, found 1,613 ATM robberies nationwide in an informal study he did between 2001 and September 2006.
About 70 percent of those crimes started out as abductions elsewhere — many in parking lots, said Russikoff, who compiled his list from news and police reports. "It's a huge problem, and it needs to be addressed," he said.
ATMs were introduced in the late 1960s to save banks money and expand customer service. Now, more than 400,000 stand in shopping areas, convenience stores, college campuses and other places where people gather. They generate some 42 million transactions a day.
"It's a crime that's not going away," said Ron Guerette, a professor at Florida International University, who has studied ATM crime.
A variety of security tools have been proposed as add-ons to the machines. Some states have considered laws requiring ATMs to be equipped with such safeguards.
Joseph Zingher, an Illinois lawyer and inventor, has patented a system that would allow ATM users to enter their PIN number backward if they are being robbed. The machine still would dispense the money, but it also would silently alert police.
Russikoff has devised a police alert system with two passwords: one to carry out a normal transaction and another to use under duress.
These technologies, though, are not widely in use — largely because the banking industry rejected them. Under pressure, victims could botch the passwords and prompt more violence by the robber, said John Hall, spokesman for the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.
"This creates a false sense of security," Hall said.
Banks are doing their best, Hall said, to protect ATM customers by adding lights, surveillance cameras and cutting hedges around the machines.
Guerette said the banking industry has no incentive to add safeguards to machines or even to determine the true number of ATM robberies. Both could lead to bad publicity for banks. Both are costly.
"The industry isn't going to do this on its own," he said.
Investigators from the Palm Beach County and Broward County sheriff's offices and other local police departments say there is no reason for them to track ATM robberies. The crimes are just too infrequent, they say. Police are required by federal authorities to track some robberies, including those that occur on highways, at gasoline and service stations, banks and commercial and residential buildings.
During Cain's two-hour ordeal in September, the robber forced his way into Cain's Hollywood hotel room, bashed him in the head, took $315 and forced him into a cab at gunpoint.
They drove to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where Cain gave the robber a $400 cash advance from a casino teller.
He also handed over another $500 from two ATMs. The robber wanted more, but Cain refused to get back into the cab. He walked away.
Weeks later, Hollywood police arrested Kanorrus Butler, 27, and charged him with the armed robbery and kidnapping of Cain. Butler pleaded not guilty and is in jail pending trial.
After sensational abductions and murders were linked to ATMs in New York and California in the early 1990s, some cities and states introduced stiffer security measures such as requiring guards in buildings with ATMs in New York.
No additional security has been proposed for ATMs in Florida in the wake of the Bochicchios' slayings, according to the Florida Bankers Association.
But Lt. Manny Marino of the Hollywood
Police Department urged everyone to be extra careful around retail areas
and parking lots: "We tell people, as a general precaution, to
be aware of your surroundings."