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Police Make Arrest In High-Profile Ft. Lauderdale Murder

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Catherine Pileggi

(Source: Fort Lauderdale Police)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami.com) – Fort Lauderdale Police said late Tuesday that Catherine Marie Pileggi, 55, had been arrested and charged her with the murder of Ronald Vinci, 70.

The case started last Tuesday when Fort Lauderdale Police received a call from a person who said they found the body of a man wrapped in bed sheets and plastic in a mansion along the 100 block of Southwest Coconut Drive on the New River. The man was later identified as Vinci.

Police said Pileggi and Vinci got into a fight at their home that ended up with Vinci’s death.

“We believe there was some sort of argument that ensued because Mr. Vinci had been trying to get Mrs. Pileggi out of his life,” said Detective Travis Mandell.

The arrest left Vinci’s long-time attorney shocked.

“They always struck me as a good couple. She seemed like a good companion for him,” said lawyer Michael Vivoli in California. “I never saw anything that would suggest that (murder) was possible. It’s just such a waste.”

Pileggi was taken to the Broward County Jail late Tuesday after turning herself in at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Her lawyer accompanied her. She is charged with first degree murder.

An attorney representing the Vinci family said they are still reeling from the loss of their loved one.

“The family is just hopeful that whoever did do this and they obviously don’t know — that whoever did do this — is brought to justice,” said attorney Mitchell Berger.

The mansion in Fort Lauderdale sat vacant for years. A little more than two weeks ago, however, it sold for $2.9 million. Vinci paid for it in cash, according to the realtor. Vinci made a fortune in Honda car dealerships and real estate in Southern California.

Vinci was a self-made man who moved to San Diego in the late 1960′s with a bag of tools and $1,500. From that, he owned one of the first Honda dealerships in California. Vivoli said Vinci was well-respected.

“He was a man of his word,” Vivoli said. “He was a man of integrity. He was a guy that if he told you he was going to do something, he would do it.”

Vinci loved flying and owned several airplanes, said Vivoli. The lawyer said Vinci’s family and friends are devastated by the news.

“Everybody’s just horrified to hear that something like this happened,” he said.

Vinci leaves behind a son, Kerry, and a grandson.

“I know that Kerry’s really upset that his son’s not gonna get to enjoy his grandfather,” Vivoli said.

Funeral arrangements are still being made.

Fort Lauderdale Police said they are continuing to investigate the case and if you have any information about the death, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

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