Police hunt Boca Raton mall killer after attacks, abductions
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 as normal as any other, with a trip to the posh Town Center mall in this affluent oceanside community for some shopping in the hectic weeks before Christmas.
That's where the terror begins and ends.
"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 the 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. She's not seen again alive.
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 lifeless body falls from the passenger door, shot in the head.
Blood spills around her as her Mercedes speeds away.
It 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 suspect. 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 the 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.
Panic sets in.
"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. She has 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."
Three days later, 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 is making his rounds.
He 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 now 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 it's surveillance capabilities.
"These crimes are still under investigation and many crucial questions remain unanswered," said Simon spokeswoman Billie Scott.
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.
It also appears that the suspect may only kill when his victims resist.
Evidence in the Gorenberg murder shows she may have tried 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 suspect 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 suspect 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."