Pain & Gain, Part 2

Miami's Sun Gym gang developed a taste for blood and money. The police could have stopped them before they killed somebody. But they didn't.

Lugo swore her to secrecy, and the beautiful Sabina, raised in Romania on a steady diet of American movies, was happy to oblige. A fan of action thrillers, particularly James Bond films, she now had her own real-life man of international intrigue. The spy who loved her even gave her a specialized code for her beeper: When she saw "007" appear on the screen, she knew Lugo was trying to contact her.

By now Adrian Doorbal also had moved nearby, to a two-story townhouse apartment a block away on Main Street. This, Sabina learned, was no coincidence: Doorbal, too, worked for the CIA. Lugo told her the Company figured it was smarter to have the team in close proximity in case they had to act swiftly. And when the guys disappeared for a few days now and then, it was because they were constantly on call; they had to report to headquarters in Langley, Virginia, at a moment's notice. They had no say in when or why; the life of a secret agent wasn't always glamorous.

Doorbal hadn't yet scored a date with Beatriz from Solid Gold, but he did have a steady girl. He'd been dating Cindy Eldridge, whom he'd met at Sundays on the Bay restaurant in Key Biscayne nine months before, on the occasion of her surprise birthday party. The 31-year-old Boca Raton nurse, a pretty blond fitness enthusiast, was taken with the stranger she chanced to meet at her party. And why wouldn't she be? He was a personal trainer, he told her, and co-owned a gym; he was interested in nutrition and bodybuilding. They both liked fast cars, too. Cindy had a red Corvette.

Who did Schiller call? Private investigator Ed Du Bois
Who did Schiller call? Private investigator Ed Du Bois
John Mese notarized more than two million dollars in assets transferred from Schiller's accounts
John Mese notarized more than two million dollars in assets transferred from Schiller's accounts

The personal trainer and the nurse had begun dating right away. Soon Doorbal proposed marriage, but Cindy declined -- she was older than he, and they didn't really know each other well enough. The commute between Boca and Miami limited their contact, but Doorbal saw her most weekends and sometimes during the week. Still, she didn't know the real sacrifices he was making for their relationship, those visits he crammed in between Schiller's beatings at the warehouse.

That winter of 1995 their problems began. Cindy wanted to move to Miami so they'd have more time together. But by then Doorbal was living on Main Street and playing the CIA agent for Lugo's girlfriend. (Besides, the distance gave him time to pursue Beatriz.) And there were more problems: Doorbal began having mood swings. He'd abruptly change his mind on any manner of subject. Worse (and there was no delicate way for her to bring this up), he was a flop in the sack. His libido was limp. But Cindy attributed these dark clouds to his steroid use; for bodybuilders it almost was an occupational hazard. She guided him to Dr. Eric Lief in Coral Springs, who specialized in treating long-term steroid abusers with hormone therapy. But the day finally came when Doorbal told her he just couldn't see her again. She was devastated.

While the Sun Gym gang was setting up house in Old Cutler Cove, Miami private investigator Ed Du Bois, who'd advised Schiller to check out of Jackson Memorial Hospital and leave Miami, received a phone call from New York. He was surprised but glad to learn Schiller was safe and healing.

Schiller was on his way to Colombia, to rejoin his family, but wanted to hire the detective to look into his kidnapping. Du Bois told him to write down everything he could remember about his abduction and torture, and to send any documentation he could gather.

A few days later Schiller flew to Colombia. Still on crutches, he was a mess physically and mentally. He'd lost 40 pounds and was down to 120. He had nightmares of that helpless, horrific month in the warehouse. He'd erupt in crying jags in the middle of everyday events. As he convalesced he also tried to put his financial life back together. With the help of his Miami attorney, Schiller discovered momentous changes in the family's lifestyle. There were outrageous charges ($80,000 worth!) on their credit cards: all phone orders, and not one made by him or his wife. His Schlotzsky's Deli franchise had been dissolved. The house now belonged to a Nassau, Bahamas, corporation he knew nothing about. His offshore accounts, in which he'd kept $1.26 million in investments, had been cleaned out. His checking account was empty.

He began compiling documents that followed the transfers of his property to mysterious offshore companies and people he had never met. The MetLife change-of-beneficiary policy gave him a laugh, one of the few since his kidnapping. Sure, he'd signed the form, but his signature didn't even run along the line. It rose almost perpendicular, pointing like a rocket off a launch pad. Several of his canceled checks displayed similar strange signature alignments; he couldn't believe his bank had honored them. And just who was this Lillian Torres, to whom he'd signed over his two-million-dollar life insurance policy and the investment in his La Gorce Palace luxury condominium?

During Super Bowl week Schiller's letter arrived at Du Bois's office, detailing his brutal ordeal and his certainty that Jorge Delgado, his former business partner and friend, was involved. He also named Daniel Lugo, an associate of Delgado, as one of his captors.

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