MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the first time, a former lead detective speaks out about the 10-year-old murder case of model Paula Sladewski, a young model whose burned body was found in a dumpster some 14 hours after surveillance video showed her leaving a Miami night club.
North Miami Police Cmdr. Michael Gaudio told CBS4’S Peter D’Oench that he hopes there will be a break in the troubling case someday soon.
Gaudio had been the lead detective in the case during his 13 years at the bureau of detectives.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s the one case that stands out in my career.”
Gaudio said the death of the 26-year-old woman who was visiting South Florida still haunts him.
“It’s the one I didn’t solve,” he said. “To be unable to give the family closure does bother me. I still think about it to this day.”
The murder on Jan. 3, 2010, devastated Sladewski’s sister, who traveled to South Florida a few times to raise awareness about this case and ask for the public’s help.
An emotional Kelly Farris spoke at a news conference at North Miami police headquarters on Jan. 30, 2010, where she said, “My sister was a 26-year-old girl, so full of life and beautiful. She cared about everybody.”
Sladewski’s body was found burning in a North Miami dumpster at NW 14 Avenue and 130 Street next to what was then a propane company.
“It was just surreal,” said Farris. “I couldn’t imagine how anything like this could happen.”
Sladewski came to Miami with her boyfriend, Kevin Klym, for the New Year’s weekend in 2010. They were going to a Lady Gaga concert and to South Beach.
Gaudio said they were inside Club Space at 34 NE 11 Street when asked to leave after they had argued. Klym went back to their hotel after they became separated.
Black-and-white surveillance tape obtained by CBS4 shows Sladewski leaving Club Space with a man behind her.
On Jan. 7, 2010, the attorney for Klym, Mark Beginin, said, “It shows another gentleman following her out of the nightclub.”
Police had briefly called Klym a “person of interest” because he was one of the last persons known to have seen Sladewski, but Gaudio told D’Oench that he is not a person of interest in this case.
Fourteen hours after Sladewski left Club Space, North Miami police were called to the dumpster where a resident had seen a fire. That’s where the badly burned body was discovered. She was identified through dental records.
Luciano Ceccarelly, a neighbor who runs a business across the street said, “We were shocked. It happened so close to us. I feel bad about what happened. I remember all the police here seating off the neighborhood.”
The dumpster is 120 blocks north of Club Space on a dead-end street in an industrial area.
“Well, the theory is that she was killed some place else and was brought there and someone had known where the dumpster was,” said Gaudio. “That’s not something that someone had common knowledge of.”
Gaudio believes the suspect knew the area and may have lived there.
At the time, police released a sketch after a witness said he saw a man leaving a parking lot near Club Space with Sladewski.
“He was a heavyset black male or Hispanic male with a goatee,” said Gaudio.
Police are still looking for the man seen in the sketch.
“People call Crime Stoppers all the time and the department and I still receive calls about possible suspects and persons of interest,” said Gaudio
Shortly after the crime, Farris said, “It’s really sad. I’ll never get to see her again until we meet one day in heaven.”
And on January 30, 2010, Farris said, “I just plead with anyone it there if they have any information, please come forward. She did not deserve to die this way.”
Gaudio hopes for a break in this case.
“A lot of time has passed,” he said. “Maybe someone is not afraid to come forward and say they were there that night and they saw something. I would ask themselves if they had a family member who’s been taken in a horrendous way. They would want help so they could have closure. Now is the time to come forward.”
Gaudio said there were no sightings of Sladewski after she left Club Space and no known surveillance tape that might have captured any of her movements.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).
There is a reward of up to $3,000.