Monday, May 15, 2006
7 News Investigations: Killer Connection
For the past year police have been trying to link a Florida Keys man to several gruesome murders of women around the state. So far, only three cases have been closed but police inside the investigation say Charlie Brandt may have a killer connection to nearly a dozen more. Patrick Fraser has the story.
WSVN--The sun had just set on a summer day in 1989...
A woman driving home in the Florida Keys saw a man walk across U.S. 1.
A few minutes after she passed by the man reached a boat anchored near shore. Pulled out a knife... And brutally murdered the woman sleeping on the boat.
Sgt. Patricia Dally: "She was eviscerated. They attempted to remove her head. And, her heart was removed."
The witness who saw the man crossing the road gave police a description of the man.
But for 17 years the drawing never produced a suspect in the murder of Sherry Perisho.
Bill Becker: "I don't think anybody ever suspected that this was somebody local."
But police have now determined... The killer was a Florida Keys man.
Det. Pat Diaz: "Charlie Brandt led a double life."
Brandt lived on big pine key with his wife Teri.
Det. Pat Diaz: "Teri only said good thing about Charlie."
They were a happy couple till 2004, when charlie murdered her.
Det. Pat Diaz: "He murders his wife first. Stabs her twice."
The couple was staying with Teri's niece in Orlando.
After killing his wife he murdered the niece -- decapitated her, propped her head beside her body and removed all her organs... Just as he done to the Keys woman.
Det. Pat Diaz: "His cuts on the victims were precision cuts. He knew the anatomy of a female."
After finishing his ghastly work, Brandt took one more life.
Det. Pat Diaz: "He goes and takes a shower, puts on new clothes and then goes and kills himself. That's the type of individual Charlie Brandt was."
Charlie Brandt; a man no-one really knew..
Cyndy Siemon: "It's still hard to imagine that we didn't recognize a sign."
Patrick Fraser: "It's understandable that no-one suspected anything because Charlie Brandt hid everything so well. For example his friends didn't know he committed his first murder at the age of 13 when he shot and killed his pregnant mother and 17 years passed between the murder in the Keys and his wife and niece. And experts will tell you serial killers don't suddenly stop killing."
Det. Pat Diaz: "This is a disease, I feel. This guy here didn't stop in between those three cases."
Detective Pat Diaz has become all too familiar with Charlie Brandt.
Det. Pat Diaz: "At that point we realized that the victim no longer had a head. Her head was missing."
In 1995 Darlene Toler was found stuffed in a garbage bag in South Dade.
Det. Pat Diaz: "It was almost like he delivered us a package, with the body left on the side of the road for us to find."
Just like the other victims, Darlene had been sliced open in Brandt's meticulous way; her organs -- including her heart -- removed.
Det. Pat Diaz: "Being an avid fisherman, he was very skilled with knives. And that explains the way the cuts were in the Darlene Toler case."
After her murder, nine other prostitutes turned up dead in South Florida. Those cases were very similar to Darlene Toler.
For example, some were stuffed in duffel bags or suitcases.
And brandt liked to make his victims easy to find, like the woman left near the morgue.
Cyndy Siemon: "It's kind of a sick way to do it, but put somebody right there by the morgue."
And Brandt left detailed records at his house that showed he had the opportunity to kill those women.
Det. Pat Diaz: "Everything from how much gas he put in his car to the miles he went from day to day."
Even though he lived just a few miles from work during the times the murders took place he put enough miles on his car to go to Dade and Broward.
Det. Pat Diaz: "He's put 200-220 miles in-between a weeks worth of gas time. It didn't add up."
From his computer police found out he was fascinated with dead women's bodies.
Sgt. Patricia Dally: "He liked to go on the sites for autopsy photos. And, I think there's one called Necro Babes or something like that."
But because he was so crafted at killing and because he killed himself, the suspicions that Charlie Brandt may have killed ten to 12, even 14 women -- may never be confirmed.
However one fact will not change...
Their were two Charlie Brandt's who lived in the Keys.
Cyndy Siemon: "The biggest shock I have ever had...and probably for most people too."
And the Charlie Brandt they didn't know, was one of the sickest serial killers in South Florida history.