MIAMI (CBS4) – I met Manny Pardo 22 years ago on death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke.
“How many people did you kill?” I asked Pardo, a one-time cop-turned serial killer.
“I was convicted of killing nine people,” he said. The qualifier was obvious. It has long been thought that Pardo, who did his murderous deeds in the height of Miami’s “Cocaine Cowboys” era, committed murders for which he was not charged.
We had our cold-blooded chat, the serial killer and I, in a small room, surrounded by guards.
“How many times, give or take, did you shoot each of your victims?” I asked.
“Well, as many as I felt that was necessary,” Pardo said. “I felt good doing it so, if I ran out of bullets, I put another clip in my gun.”
Pardo had been an Eagle Scout. He’d earned a master’s degree. He became a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and later a Sweetwater police officer. He would lose his license to be a cop after testifying falsely for a pal charged in a drug-running case.
His work found him surrounded by the cash, bling, fast cars and fast women that came with the host of coke and pot dealers that crowded South Florida. He wanted some of it. He went after it homicidally, killing nine people that we know of, six men and three women in a three month spree.
“It was my New Year’s resolution for 1986,” Pardo told me.
“What did you resolve to yourself, what went through your mind?” I asked.
“That I would systematically eliminate as many as I could before they finally caught me or killed me,” he said, a conviction in his voice.
Pardo said he believed he was relieving the community of the “scum of the earth.” He was a vigilante, on a crusade to clean up the town.
“Did you enjoy it?” I asked.
“Yeah, hell yeah, I enjoyed it,” Pardo said, his feet bouncing up and down on the prison floor, shackles jangling. “Are you kidding me? Of course, I felt good. I felt great. I felt I was doing a service to mankind. They had no right to be alive.”
At trial, Pardo’s attorney played an insanity defense amid the killer’s claim that he had the “right” to do what he was doing.
Defense attorney Ron Guralnick told me, “He doesn’t have the right. That’s the whole point. He thinks he has the right, and therein lies his insanity.”
There was a certain, well, crazy air to Pardo the day we spoke. His assertions were passionate, his appearance odd. At trial, Pardo had a full head of thick dark hair. On death row, he sported a pate shaved clean. He had a nervous disorder that caused him to pluck his eyebrows and eyelashes with his fingers. There was not a hair anywhere on his head.
Our conversation returned to the killings.
“How would you feel after?”
“Fantastic,” he said. “I would go home and go to sleep. Inside I felt great. I was proud of myself.”
“How would you sleep?” I inquired.
“Like a baby,” Pardo said.
Among the claims at trial was that Pardo killed some who were innocent, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sara Musa, a beautiful young woman, happened to be with one of Pardo’s darker victims when the ex-cop struck. She was killed execution style. There was nothing to tie her to any illicit activity. The suggestion was she died so no witnesses would be left behind.
“She wasn’t a drug dealer, she was not,” Musa’s brother Gino said. “She had no criminal record.”
Pardo maintained denial when we spoke.
“I could never kill an innocent person, that I couldn’t live with. But one of these people,” Pardo said, referring to the so-called “scum” he was eradicating, “I cold put twenty bullets in them and go to sleep like a baby.”
Prosecutor David Waxman, who convinced a jury to find Pardo guilty on all counts, told me the killer’s denials in our death row interview added to his list of transgressions.
“I told the jury he’s a thief, he’s a robber, he’s a murderer,” Waxman told me. “And now he’s a liar.”
The state wanted the death penalty and Pardo, at the sentencing portion of the jury’s deliberations, seconded the motion.
“I’m a soldier, I accomplished my mission,” Pardo told the jury. “Give me the glory to at least end my days in a proper fashion, not be condemned to a state institution. That’s why I am ready for the death sentence.”
The jury granted Pardo’s plea.
Barring an eleventh hour intervention by the courts, an executioner will slip a hypodermic needle into Pardo’s arm Tuesday evening at six o’clock, and the serial killer cop will go to sleep like a baby…forever.