SOUTH FLORIDA (CBSMiami) – Hollywood’s take on a dark chapter in South Florida history is hitting theaters in April.
“Pain and Gain” is based on a true story about a group of muscle-pumped killers fascinated with strippers and steroids.
They kidnapped and tortured a South Florida businessman for his fortune, then murdered and dismembered a wealthy Hungarian couple.
CBS4’s Brian Andrews covered the trial years ago. He reports that some connected to the original cases are concerned the film plays down the brutality of the crimes.
“Most people that you tell the story, they don’t believe that it ever happened,” said retired homicide detective Felix Jimenez.
A movie script ripped from real life, millionaire Marc Schiller was kidnapped and kept in a warehouse where he was tortured until he signed over more than a million in investments and the deed to his home.
Then, he was tied up in a rigged car crash and set on fire. Schiller escaped while smoldering only to be run over twice then live to tell about it.
“He must have the vertebrae of a snake. I can’t imagine how he walked away from this, but he did,” said Ron Guralnick, the convicted killer’s attorney.
“Sometimes as a country and as a society, we tend to glorify bad acts…bad people…and we forget the victims, the innocent victims that were involved in this crime,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez-Rundle.
Schiller didn’t go to police after getting away. Instead, he enlisted the help of a private eye to try to get his money back.
That’s when the gym friends went after Frank Griga, a Hungarian immigrant who made his fortune in the 900 sex line business.
“He was a very simple guy. He was a very good person,” said Zsuzsanna Griga, the murdered man’s sister.
“He was portrayed as a big businessman in Italian suits; he wore jeans and t-shirts,” she said.
The men who killed Griga and his girlfriend Chriztina Furton bought a powersaw to chop up the bodies – using one of the couple’s own credit cards.
The saw wasn’t powerful enough to do the job, so they returned it.
“So just buying it with your own credit card, and then leaving it full of DNA, the original one that they purchased at Home Depot is like saying, ‘Please come arrest me!’” said Guralnick.
The body parts were left in cement buckets in the Everglades.
“This was a brutal crime, and we must never forget that it was,” said Fernandez-Rundle.
“It involved everything. It’s sex…it’s drugs…it’s muscle-bound people…it’s the South Beach lifestyle…it’s Miami,” said Jimenez.
It’s been 15 years since Daniel Lugo and Adrian Noel Doorbal were sent to death row for their crimes.
In the movie, Lugo is played by Mark Wahlberg, who agonized over his dead-end life as a personal trainer. Anthony Mackie plays Doorbal, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Paul Doyle, a fictional composite character based on several members of the murderous crew who were also sent to prison.
Interesting cases tend to make interesting movies.
“This has to be one of the top cases I have ever worked,” said Jimenez.
“It was the most interesting case I’ve ever tried. No doubt about it!” said Guralnick.
That’s regardless of your taste for what some may consider distasteful.
“If we trivialize the victimization, if we trivialize the torture, if we trivialize the kidnapping and the ultimate deaths and the brutal way that they died, then it’s a mockery,” said Fernandez-Rundle.
The movie is based on a series of articles in the Miami New Times about the case in 1999 called “Pain and Gain.”
Meanwhile, Marc Schiller – who served time in federal prison for Medicare fraud after his kidnap and torture – recently wrote his own book about it all.
The title? Pain And Gain: The Untold True Story.
He’ll be profiled on an upcoming episode of “48 Hours”.