FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami.com) – New details released by police say a millionaire’s handyman was the first person to learn that the 70-year-old millionaire was dead.
On June 28th, police say Catherine Marie Pileggi told the handyman – Reynaldo Silva – who worked at Ronald Vinci’s multi-million dollar Tarpon River home that Vinci was dead.
“She shot him in the head, she stabbed him, she placed a laceration across his throat and caused blunt force trauma to his head,” said Det. Travis Mandell, of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
Then, according to arrest records, Pileggi asked Silva to help dispose of Vinci’s body.
“Generally, she told him to come over with the U-haul truck and then she canceled that and then she told the handyman she wanted to dispose of the body at sea and she had purchased a container for that,” Mandell said.
Records say Vinci’s body was found wrapped in bedding and plastic bags. Silva who was suspicious called a friend who contacted authorities.
Fort Lauderdale Police arrested and charged Catherine Marie Pileggi, 55, late Tuesday with the murder of Ronald Vinci.
Mitchell Berger, an attorney representing Vinci’s family described Vinci as an avid boater who loved being on the water.
“He was a person who loved living, truly loved living. He was adventurous he was kind he was loving and just loved to take chances sometimes a little bit more than the average person,” Berger added.
He said the family was grieving and had no comment about Catherine Pileggi.
Pileggi’s attorney, Bruce Udolf says she’s frightened and fragile.
“She’s very confused and upset,” Udolf said.
Police say the couple’s relationship was on the rocks and Vinci was trying the end things.
Meanwhile police say they found a gun with Pileggi’s fingerprints and a blood-stained knife inside a car at Vinci’s home.
“This was a brutal, brutal murder,” Mandell said.
The arrest report says Pileggi told the handyman Vinci had fallen down the stairs and died.
Pileggi was charged with first-degree murder in the killing and was denied bond Wednesday afternoon.
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 ofSouthwest Coconut Driveon theNew River. The man was later identified as Vinci.
On June 29th, The Broward County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the Vinci and officially ruled the death a homicide.
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,” Mandell said.
According to police, crime scene technicians “processed” the home and located several items “linking Ms. Pileggi to the homicide.”
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 inCalifornia. “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, according to CBS4′s Carey Codd. Her lawyer accompanied her. She is charged with first degree murder.
“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 Mitchell Berger.
The mansion inFort Lauderdalesat 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 inSouthern California.
Vinci was a self-made man who moved toSan Diegoin the late 1960′s with a bag of tools and $1,500. From that, he owned one of the first Honda dealerships inCalifornia. 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 going to 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).