10:20 AM PDT, September 1, 2021
Roberto Wagner Fernandes, a Brazilian man who died in a 2005 plane crash, has been identified as a serial killer who took in the women’s lives in southern Florida. They were found dead in Miami and Broward County, officials said
The killing began in June 2000, when the 35-year-old body of Kimberly Dietz-Livesey was discovered in a suitcase on the side of a road in Cooper City, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Weeks later, the remains of 21-year-old Sia Demas were found in a duffel bag, also in Broward County.
One year later, the body of 24-year-old Jessica Good, 24, was spotted floating in Miami’s Biscayne Bay, police said.
The first two women had been beaten to death, authorities said. Good had been fatally stabbed.
“This suspect Roberto Fernandes was indeed responsible for the brutal murder of all three of these women,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony announced at a Tuesday news conference.
The victims had struggled with substance abuse and were sex workers, authorities said.
Fernandes quickly came to the attention of investigators after they interviewed Good’s boyfriend, but Fernades quickly fled for his native Brazil after her murder, before detectives could question him, police said.
Florida investigators would find themselves mired in international, jurisdictional red tape, but “as the years have gone by,” said Det. Zachary Scott of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the Brazilian government “has been nothing but helpful in this investigation, partially because Mr. Fernandes’s name has come up in several investigations in Brazil as well.”
A break surfaced in 2011, when DNA collected from Good’s killing matched genetic evidence from the Broward County murders, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
When investigators went to Brazil to obtain DNA samples from Fernandes, they discovered he had reportedly left for Paraguay in 2005 and died there in a plane crash. But detectives were not convinced Fernandes was really dead.
Fernandes “had amassed a certain amount of enemies” in Brazil, Det. Scott said at Tuesday’s press conference and his dead wife’s family “apparently harbored some ill feelings toward him,” Scott said. “It was believed that they had paid others to try to kill him, prompting him to flee the country.”
So investigators persisted. They were aided by the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and the Brazilian National Police, Scott said. A judge ordered Fernandes’ grave to be dug up, and DNA samples taken from the remains matched the genetic material taken from the murdered women, authorities said.
But the story may not end there. Florida authorities said Fernandes may be responsible for other unsolved killings in the area. Anyone with information was asked to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.
Sheriff Tony said several detectives involved in the murder investigations have retired, but they never stopped digging. The victims’ relatives deserved to know who killed their loved ones, he said.
“These types of atrocities, as you can imagine, devastate the community and devastates the families because they have no closure,” he said.