*~ March, 2008 -- Page 2 ~*
pray against crime, violence
By SUSAN R. MILLER
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 15, 2008
BOCA RATON — With bowed heads and hands raised skyward, some 300 churchgoers gathered this morning in Sanborn Square to pray for the city and against crime and violence.
"We are here to pray against gang activity, drug activity as well as violence. We believe God is able and will answer our prayers," said Kevin Slack, associate pastor of the Church of All Nations, which organized the public prayer event.
Church leaders noted the murders of Nancy Bochicchio and her daughter Joey Bochicchio-Hauser whose bodies were found in the parking lot of Town Center Mall last December.
"We have seen a wave in violent crimes and have witnessed in horror and despair as a deranged killer who is still on the loose and continued to run our city streets with impunity," Pastor Mark B. Boykin told the crowd.
"It's hard to believe we live in a city that's no longer safe for women to go to the shopping mall alone."
Before the prayer gathering several dozen teenagers, members of its youth group called Via Dolorosa walked 18 miles of a 33-mile prayer march through the city, some like Andrew Casas, 17, carrying crosses.
"We got a lot of waves and a lot of people honking, we also got some mad people," he said.
The Church of All Nations has some 2,000 members who come from all over the world. After the service, members retreated to the four corners of the city to creating what Slack said was a canopy of prayer.
By GRETEL SARMIENTO
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
BOCA RATON — The first of many monthly meetings of a new task force initiated by the Town Center mall after the Dec.12 double homicide took place today.
Composed of local businessmen, government and law enforcement officials, the Community Safety Awareness and Crime Prevention Task Force,will bring together existing organizations that promote crime prevention and safety. It will address all crime related activities, such as identify theft and scams targeting seniors, not just murders at shopping plazas.
"We are not trying to reinvent the wheel here," said Cheryl Budd, chief communications officer with National Crime Prevention Council, at a media briefing following the three-hour long meeting.
"We are saying let's take charge. Let's be together. Let's communicate with each other."
That will happen using web tools, possibly through a website, and other forms of communication. Meetings will be held in a monthly. What the task force won't do is provide updates or catch the murderer in the ongoing case of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her daughter, Joey, 7. They were found shot to death in a sport utility vehicle outside Sears at the mall.
"That's not what this is about," said Budd, though that particular crime will be in the back of everyone's mind, she said.
"Lots of times it takes a catalyst like that to slap you beside the face and say: you know what? Let's wake up." Comparatively speaking, Boca Raton is a safe community, she said, which tends to make residents complacent and confident. Murder details aside, many were shocked to learn it was this city the location of the murders.
Weeks after the bodied were found Simon Property Group, owner of Town Center, announced it was partnering with the National Crime Prevention Council to form this public-private task force, whose main objective is to disseminate information people can use anywhere and at any time.
"There's no such thing as ultimate safety," Budd said. "Bad things can happen in paradise."
By GRETEL SARMIENTO
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
BOCA RATON — Government officials and community leaders began working toward a safer community Tuesday.
The Community Safety Awareness and Crime Prevention Task Force first met Tuesday and will address identify theft, scams targeting seniors, slayings at shopping plazas and other crimes. It will bring all organizations promoting safety together using Web tools and other forms of communication.
"There’s no such thing as ultimate safety," said Cheryl Budd, chief communications officer with National Crime Prevention Council, after the three-hour meeting. "Bad things can happen in paradise."
It will not be the job of the task force to catch the killer in the ongoing case of Nancy Bochicchio, 47, and her daughter, Joey, 7. They were found shot to death in a sport utility vehicle outside Sears at the mall in December.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — The 911 call lasted a split second. Not even a breath was heard.
It was Nancy Bochicchio’s last desperate plea for help.
The single mom and her 7-year-old daughter, Joey, would soon be dead, each bound and shot in the head in the back seat of their black Chrysler Aspen.
Their day started with a trip to the posh Town Center mall in this affluent oceanside community for shopping in the hectic weeks before Christmas.
"You go to the mall thinking you’re going to be safe," said JoAnn Bruno, Bochicchio’s sister. "Would anyone think they were going to go to a mall in Boca Raton and be abducted and tortured and murdered? I mean, would anybody think that?"
Even scarier, it’s not the first time this killer has struck at that mall — and maybe not the last.
March 23, 2007
Randi Gorenberg, 52, heads to the mall to do some shopping. It’s a typical day for the bubbly, outgoing doctor’s wife and mother of two.
She loves the Town Center. It’s got all the best high-end stores — Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue.
Surveillance video shows her leaving the mall at about 1:16 p.m. She walks into the parking lot to her black Mercedes SUV.
Just over a half-hour later, at 1:54 p.m., witnesses spot her car driving through a park in nearby Delray Beach.
Then a gunshot.
Gorenberg’s body falls limply from the passenger door, shot in the head.
Her Mercedes is found a few minutes later abandoned behind a Home Depot. Her purse and cell phone are missing. So are her black and white Puma shoes.
No one sees the killer. To this day, he’s a ghost.
"It’s been a very hard and sad year for me," said Gorenberg’s mother, Idey Elias. "And whoever he is, he’s still out there doing these evil things."
August 7, 2007
A 30-year-old woman and her 2-year-old son leave the Town Center mall on a balmy afternoon and head for their black Lincoln Navigator in Nordstrom’s parking garage.
The woman puts her son in his car seat and loads her purchases in the back.
She gets behind the wheel and is startled to see a man sitting beside her child with a gun to his head. The gunman is dark-skinned, about 5’11", 180 pounds, wearing sunglasses and a full-brimmed floppy hat, possibly with a ponytail.
"Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt us," she tells him.
The man orders the woman to drive to an ATM where she withdraws $600.
He then orders her into the back seat, where he binds her feet with plastic ties, secures her hands with cheap novelty handcuffs and fixes her neck to the headrest with another tie.
He’s calm but threatens to kill her. She doesn’t resist. They drive back to the mall where he puts a pair of blacked-out swim goggles over her eyes.
He asks if she’s OK, even gets her a drink of water and her inhaler for asthma. Then he disappears.
The woman eventually frees herself.
"He took my license and told me if his picture was on the news that he would come after me ... and my son," she would later say. "I’m terrified."
She has concealed her identity from the public out of fear for her own and child’s safety, appearing before reporters on the condition that her name and face not be shown.
Three days after she was attacked, the same man is believed to have robbed a woman at gunpoint in a parking garage at another nearby shopping area.
Dec. 13, 2007
It’s just after midnight at the mall. A security guard making his rounds notices a black SUV idling in the parking lot and calls police.
The Bochicchios are dead inside.
Just 10 hours earlier, Nancy Bochicchio picked up Joey from her second grade class for a doctor’s appointment. The inseparable pair then hit the mall.
They enter between Neiman Marcus and Sears and come out the same way less than an hour later, spotted on surveillance video, their long shadows trailing them in the afternoon light.
Video from a nearby bank then shows their car at a drive-through ATM.
Bochicchio withdraws $500. No one knows what happens next but the killer.
Both are bound in the exact manner as the August victim. Their eyes, too, are covered with blacked-out goggles.
Nancy’s handcuffs are broken, possibly in a struggle.
Bruno, Nancy’s sister, says she was a feisty woman and likely would not have gone easily.
"She would have fought for Joey," Bruno said.
It might have sealed her fate.
"I can imagine Joey screaming," Bruno said sobbing, her hands clenched around a wad of tear-soaked tissues. "Every time I think of it, it’s a nightmare."
Joey would have turned 8 a week after her death. Instead of birthday presents, Bruno bought coffins.
"I have the same dream all the time of her ... just looking down on me and she says, ’You gotta get him ... You gotta catch him,’" Bruno said. "I pray every day that it haunts him ... I pray that he has the nightmares that we all have."
Nancy and Joey are buried by Nancy’s parents in a crypt in New York. Bruno bought slots beside them for her and her husband. "We always said we’d be together until the end," she said.
Bruno has sued the mall’s owner, Simon Property Group, alleging negligence in failing to provide enough security. The August victim has also sued. Simon officials did not respond directly to the allegations, but said the mall is upgrading its surveillance capabilities.
"These crimes are still under investigation and many crucial questions remain unanswered," Simon Property spokeswoman Billie Scott said.
A task force has been formed to catch the killer. The city is offering a $350,000 reward. Police have followed up on more than 800 tips.
While they haven’t definitively linked the Gorenberg case with the others, it appears they’re all connected.
"Someone is obviously noticing women in high-end SUVs at the mall and targeting them," said Capt. Jack Strenges of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Evidence shows Gorenberg may have been trying to leap from her vehicle when she was shot. Bochicchio may have been trying to free herself from the handcuffs.
"It would appear that when they try to resist, he murders them," Strenges said.
Former FBI profiler Mark Safarik said if the same person killed Gorenberg, he may have learned from that experience that his victims would be more easily controlled if they had small children.
"He’s now going to get the cooperation that he didn’t get with his first victim," Safarik said. "Control is really a big issue for this guy. It’s the control that keeps him calm, and when he loses control, things go bad, so I think he learned from the first case."
Safarik said the attacker likely has a violent criminal past and is a local who knows the area. He’s impulsive, doesn’t consider consequences and is numbed to violence.
"You’ve got to be pretty desensitized to shoot a 7-year-old," Safarik said. "And my guess is this guy isn’t going to have a problem doing it again."
On the Net:
Bochicchio family: http://www.myspace.com/brpsd
By Kyle Meenan
ORANGE PARK, FL -- The act of shopping is many things to many people. Some consider it an art form, others, a necessary evil. Many shoppers enjoy the hunt for a bargain. Still, others find it a chore.
But when several Orange Park shoppers recently became crime victims, law enforcement quickly stepped in. "These types of violent armed-robbery-type confrontations are becoming more and more commonplace," said Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler.
Just a few days ago a young mother with her two young children were robbed at gunpoint in the Orange Park Mall parking lot.
The gunman pushed the mother into the back seat, took her cell phone and purse, then turned to the frightened six-year-old standing by the car.
At gunpoint, he stole the child's purse. "And she (the mother) was holding a two-year-old child in her arms at the time. The suspect even took the child's toy Barbie purse!" said Beseler.
"What a cowardly and dastardly act for someone to do!" Sheriff Beseler is hot over the latest armed robbery involving a woman shopper at the mall... the third such victim since January.
That's why mall security and Clay County deputies are crawling all over the Wells Road shopping district.
Some are recognizable... Many are undercover. Shopper Maryanne Wildasin told First Coast News she's comfortable in this part of town, but she also works to protect herself.
"I try to look around and see what's -- what my surroundings are. Who's around me!"
Wildasin is a savvy shopper... who's also aware how
those not paying attention can become victims. "I try to keep my
purse close to me. I try to carry a purse that's zippered and not clasped
so that someone can't just reach in it,"
"Criminals know. They look. They size up their victims. They can tell someone that's completely distracted from someone who's very attuned to their surroundings... looking around... that appears to be confident!"
On one day, there were armed robberies at both the Regency Mall and here in Orange Park.
"There had been an armed robbery at the Regency Square Mall just shortly before the one occurred in Orange Park. We believe that those cases are connected," said Beseler.
JSO spotted the suspect vehicle and pursued it, but the gunmen bailed out and got away. Law enforcement is confident they'll soon nail the bad guys.
"But what concerns me is that when we do catch them, there'll be somebody that'll take their place 60-days or 90-days from now, and these robberies will occur again," said Beseler.
ORANGE PARK - At least two and possibly four armed robberies outside Orange Park and Jacksonville malls recently have raised alarms among law enforcement officials who think the crimes are linked.
A car believed to have been used in robberies at the Regency Square and Orange Park malls Friday is being processed by authorities after it was abandoned at the end of a chase Saturday in Jacksonville, detective John Parker of the Clay County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.
Inside the red 1999 Dodge Avenger were a purse, cell phone and BlackBerry stolen at gunpoint from a woman who was in the Orange Park Mall parking lot with her 4-month-old son and 6-year-old daughter on Friday, Parker said.
Parker said a man walked up to the woman as she was retrieving her son and put a silver handgun to her head. After robbing the woman, he told her to lie down in the car.
"As he turned around, he grabbed the little 6-year-old's purse," Parker said.
The same car may be involved in a Regency Square robbery earlier Friday where two men and a woman were robbed at gunpoint by two men in what the victims described as a 1999 red Chrysler Sebring, said robbery Sgt. Steve Zona of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
The robbers had a chrome handgun and took jewelry, a purse and other items as the victims got out of their car, Zona said.
On Jan. 28, a 46-year-old woman said two men in a red car pulled next to her in the Orange Park Mall parking lot and pointed a shotgun in her direction and took her purse and keys. On March 19 at the same mall, two men in a black sport utility vehicle stopped and snatched a woman's purse then pointed a handgun at a witness, according to a police report.
"A lot of the descriptions are very similar," said Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler. "We believe we may be dealing with one group of people."
No one has been harmed in the robberies. A young man who was in the Avenger when it was stopped ran and has not been found.
Beseler said his agency will increase uniformed and undercover patrols in shopping areas in Orange Park and will be coordinating with Jacksonville. Detectives with the two agencies will meet today to determine if the car seized Saturday can be traced to other crimes.
Names of victims are not being released by the Times-Union because no arrests have been reported.
No similar incidents have been reported at the St. Johns Town Center or The Avenues, according to Simon Property Group, which manages those malls and the Orange Park Mall.
A release from Simon said the company is increasing the number of security officers inside and outside the Orange Park Mall and is working with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. The mall provides security escorts on request, the release said.
The company also owns Town Center at Boca Raton, where a woman and her young daughter were found bound and shot to death in the parking lot in December.
email@example.com, (904) 359-4091
Reported by: Eric Glasser
Twelve-year-old Michaela Paige was so moved by the deaths of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio, that she wrote a song about it called "I Don’t Understand." The lyrics convey both the emotions and the questions many people still have about the mother and daughter’s murders shortly after they left Boca’s Town Center Mall in December.
"I want somebody to see the video or hear the song and just realize that they need to turn this guy in," says Michaela.
The young song-writer’s work has now been placed on Youtube, where it’s hoped thousands of people will view the clip and familiarize themselves with Bochicchio case, keeping it in the public spotlight. That’s important to the Bochicchio family, and people like Joni Tabano, who was one of Nancy’s best friends.
"We need to keep the awareness out there so that people remember that there’s a very serious sick man running around out there hurting people and killing people," says Tabano, "And we don’t want anyone to ever forget that."
Beneath the on-line video player is also a link to purchase a copy of Michaela’s song. The proceeds, she says, will benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a cause for which Nancy had always been passionate, and St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Boca Raton - where Joey had gone to school.
"It’s beautiful to know that people will always remember them and this is a nice way to do it," says Tabano.
"I just wanted to do whatever I could to keep their memory alive and help catch the killer," says Michaela.
A $350,000 dollar reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio’s killer.
If you’d like to watch the video for yourself or purchase a copy of Michaela’s song, just check it out the Crazy Baby Records webpage and scroll down to the video player.