MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s been a major break in the case involving the savage murder of a beloved Broward grandmother 15 years ago. BSO investigators have made an arrest.
“I feel happy that they did not give up until they found someone,” said the victim’s son, Mark Parlante, during a news conference at BSO headquarters. “Is it going to take the pain away. No nothing will ever take the pain away.”
“I’m speechless,” said the victim’s daughter, Debbie Parlante. “I had prayed every day that this day would come. There was no reason for my Mom to die the way she did.”
New fingerprint technology led police to 44-year-old Bennie Hall, a career criminal who is serving an unrelated prison sentence in Martin County. Hall will face one charge of first-degree murder. Detectives do not believe he acted alone.
Olga Parlante, 71, was found beaten and strangled inside her apartment near Fort Lauderdale on March 13, 1997 on the same night she planned to play bingo at the Seminole bingo hall. She was known as the “Bingo Queen.” She had nine grown children, lived alone and was partially paralyzed.
On the morning of her death, her assailant beat her, strangled her with a blouse and dragged her back inside the apartment when she tried to crawl away. He dumped purses and drawers out on the floor, presumably foraging for valuables, and stole a television set, portable radio and mantel clock.
For years, Det. Frank Ilarraza diligently worked the case but eventually it went cold.
Recently, however, Det. Ilarraza asked BSO’s Crime Lab to reevaluate evidence from the Parlante homicide scene.
While palm prints were collected in 1997, technology at the time didn’t allow them to be compared to other prints in a nationwide database.
In April, Ilarraza was notified that Hall’s palm prints were found on Parlante’s bedroom wall and on a receipt that had been dumped from her purse onto the apartment floor. His fingerprints matched those taken from a small dresser drawer that had been emptied on the bed, on another receipt and on a business card, said BSO.
“It is great the way we solved this case,” said Ilarazza. I spoke with the victim’s son Freddie Parlante in Connecticut and he was happy about this.” Ilarazza said it was very gratifying to be able to announce the latest development.
Sheriff Al Lamberti said that “for me it doesn’t matter how long justice takes, it is justice for the family.”
Hall has an extensive history of arrests for burglary and robbery during which his victims were elderly people he beat during the crimes. Five days after Parlante’s homicide, he was arrested in Miami-Dade for possession of cocaine, according to BSO.
Lamberti called on people to call Broward Crime Stoppers if they could help find Hall’s accomplice from 15 years ago.
Parlante’s son spoke exclusively to CBS4’s Peter D’Oench Thursday morning and said it’s a day his brothers and sisters have been waiting for.
“It’s been 15 years, Peter, and we all have been waiting for this day. It has devastated all of our lives, all of us in the family,” said Mark Parlante. “For someone to go in there and do that to my mom like they did is just unaccep
table and the person that they have in custody is going to get what he deserves and we are going to get our justice. My mom was a very loving person, she loved her grandchildren. It’s just been hard on everybody over the years. I’m out of words.””If the man gets the death penalty, it’s because he should not have gone in to my mom’s house and did that to her,” he said. “I am not a hateful person but I want to know why he did that to my mother. I want to be able to look that person in the eye and say why did you do this to my mother. Why couldn’t you just sit her down and take the couple of things that you took and leave her alone.”
“She was pa
rtially paralyzed and couldn’t defend herself,” Parlante said.Olga Parlante’s family has pursued this case with a passion over the years.
“I drive by 441 all the time,” said Mark Parlante, “and I look over and think of my Mom. And I had hoped that one day, we would get justice. “I can’t imagine what happened inside my Mom’s apartment. What hurts so bad is that she went through all of that alone. She was a great Mom.”
D’Oench also spoke
with Freddie Parlante by telephone from his home in New Britain, Connecticut. He told D’Oench that “I’m very grateful for what has happened. I always hoped there would be some good news in this case.”Parlante said he and all of Olga’s surviving children from around Florida and Connecticut planned to have a gathering in Broward on Friday, September 29th.