Thursday, June 17, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Gone Too Soon
The Fort Lauderdale Police department is asking for help in its investigation into the deaths of two young women. As investigative reporter, Carmel Cafiero reveals they were both blonde beauties with much more in common.
WSVN -- Brianna Negron was 23-years-old when she died in January.
Stacey Rodriguez, Brianna's Aunt: "She was full of life. Big smile. Just loved life like you wouldn't believe. Just a great kid. She was the heart and soul of our family."
Her former boyfriend, Richard Philip Lippner, called 911 to his Fort Lauderdale condo.
According to this police report, Lippner found Brianna lying on her back after being sick and vomiting the night before. He told authorities she was pale and had blue lips. He could not find a pulse or see her breathing.
She was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, but never regained consciousness and four days later was taken off life support.
Stacey Rodriguez: "She did enjoy going out with her friends, dancing and having fun. She was not a party girl. She was not, you know, a drug girl. That wasn't her."
Casey Di Stefano was 20-years-old when she died just last month. A lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, she was living her dream after moving here from New Jersey.
Amy Di Stefano: "She just turned 20. Typical 20-year-old little girl. Sweet, kind, you know, thought she was invincible. Tons of friends, wanted to have fun."
It turns out at the time of Casey's death, 38-year-old Richard Philip Lippner was her boyfriend too and again it was Lippner who called 911 to his condo to report a sick young woman. Just four months had passed since he had made the same kind of call for Brianna.
Sgt. Frank Sousa, Ft. Lauderdale Police Department: "When you look at Brianna and Casey's deaths, there are some similarities in it that are disturbing for us."
Casey's police report indicates Lippner told authorities his girlfriend quote: "Had became ill this morning," and that he was awakened because, "She was throwing up and was having difficulty breathing."
Sgt. Frank Sousa: "We have one girl who is found deceased in January and then in May we have another girl found deceased, very similar in nature, same boyfriend, same 911 caller.
In fact, Fort Lauderdale Police is so concerned about those similarities, the homicide detective investigating the cases even posted a message on Brianna's Facebook memorial page looking for information.
Sgt. Frank Sousa: "We are not per say saying that Richard is a suspect. However, he is a person of interest in this case."
Attorney Melody Fortunato represents Richard Lippner.
Melody Fortunato, Richard Philip Lippner's Attorney: "Well my client is not in any way involved in the deaths of these young women."
She says a private investigation has shown both girls were part of the South Florida party scene.
Melody Fortunato: "You know this is the South Florida party life unfortunately and these two girls are victims of that."
Carmel Cafiero: "No foul play?"
Melody Fortunato: "None at all."
A medical examiner's report indicates Brianna died of pneumonia with complications from using zanax and a preliminary report indicates Casey died from combined drug toxicity.
Carmel Cafiero: "Did your client have anything to do with them having the drugs?"
Melody Fortunato: "Absolutely not. Absolutely not."
But the police department still has questions.
Frank Sousa: "Maybe it was a coincidence that Richard was there, but until we can say that with 100 percent certainty, we are going to look into it and that is the purpose of going to you and the public."
The questions also continue for the families.
Stacey Rodriguez: "As a family, we want to know what happened to Brianna. We want to know what happened to her. We want the truth."
Amy Di Stefano: "It's horrible, because we are just starting to realize that we are not going to see her anymore and that is really hard."
Two blonde beauties gone too soon.
If you have information, you are asked to call detective De Jesus at 954-828-5366 or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can always call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE: