Pain & Gain, Part 3

A wealthy couple disappears, the slumbering Metro-Dade Police Department awakens, and the ghastly deeds of Miami's Sun Gym gang at last come to an end.

The next morning at the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office, the metal drums were opened and the torsos extracted from the tar-and-acid mixture. But the hands, feet, and heads of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton were missing. Detectives were not amused by Lugo's semantics. In their negotiations he had never mentioned the significant facts about the amputations, which denied police positive identification of the victims, short of DNA testing. The prisoner declined to cooperate further.

During the autopsy of the female torso, however, medical examiners discovered breast implants. They recorded manufacturer's information from them and were able to trace the implants to the doctor who'd performed Krisztina's breast-augmentation surgery. (It would be the first time in Dade County that primary identification of a murder victim was developed through breast implants.) It took another month, though, for information to surface about the missing body parts. On July 7 an anonymous male caller said the victims' hands, feet, and heads had been put into buckets, sprinkled with acid, and placed alongside Alligator Alley between the Sawgrass Expressway and the Seminole Indian Reservation. The caller also claimed to know who had transported them there: Adrian Doorbal and a Dade County corrections officer.


During the summer and fall of 1995, police made more arrests. Carl Weekes and Stevenson Pierre, who'd participated in the Schiller abduction, were hauled in. Sun Gym owner John Mese, who'd been released after his initial interrogation, now found himself in police custody. So did Lugo's mistress, Sabina Petrescu. Cindy Eldridge faced charges, too.

The cops went after minor players as well: "Little Mario" Gray, who'd helped dump the barrels in the channel. A Sun Gym member who'd altered the VIN number on Diana Schiller's BMW. A former trainer at the gym who'd been paid to be an "intimidator" during the Schiller kidnapping. These individuals quickly cooperated with prosecutors and received relatively light sentences. Gray hadn't known what was in the barrels, after all, and was an unwitting accessory after the fact. He received a year's probation. Illegal alteration of the VIN number merited the same. The "intimidator" pleaded guilty to armed kidnapping and received a two-year sentence. For her cooperation Sabina, who no longer had any illusions about her lover's CIA employment, faced just one charge: theft of a motor vehicle. Moving up the food chain, prosecutors also struck deals with Weekes and Pierre, who told all they knew about the Schiller affair and were let off with ten-year sentences.

On March 27, 1996, a Dade County grand jury returned a 46-count indictment against the leaders of the Sun Gym gang for conspiracy to commit the murders of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton, and the kidnapping, extortion, and attempted murder of Schiller. "It was all planned, organized, deadly, and mean," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle after the indictment became public. The indictment also included RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges. The Schiller kidnapping-attempted murder and the double murder were deemed part of a continuing criminal enterprise: "The defendants did the same thing to Schiller as they did to the couple -- except he lived," explained Rundle. "We will use [RICO] to show a pattern of violence conducted by the defendants, who collectively had become a criminal enterprise that targeted unsuspecting wealthy victims."

That day corrections officer and disposal "expert" John Raimondo was placed under arrest. Police suspected it was he who'd taken Griga's Lamborghini out to its final resting place in the Everglades. He later pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Jorge Delgado was the first of the major defendants to crack. He gave a confession to Assistant State Attorney Gail Levine and, in turn, received just fifteen years for the Schiller crimes, and a concurrent five-year sentence for his role in the Griga-Furton case. It was a sweetheart deal for the state's star witness. Prosecutors were unable to link him to the plot and violence against Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton, only to accessory activities after the fact. But he could testify about what had happened to the couple in Doorbal's townhouse and at the warehouse.

Cindy Eldridge, whose honeymoon had come to such an abrupt end, was the last defendant to enter the prosecutorial fold. She'd been charged as an accessory after the fact for her removal of the bloodstains from her husband's townhouse wall. By November 1997, Doorbal had become romantically involved with a secretary who worked in his lawyer's office, even though he was incarcerated. Cindy filed for divorce. The four-day marriage to Doorbal had never been consummated, she said. Worse, she now realized it had been a complete farce, with the sole purpose of inhibiting her from being able to testify against him. She pleaded guilty to criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, and agreed to reveal all she'd seen and heard.

By now the state had whittled the case down to four defendants: Lugo, Doorbal, Mese, and Raimondo. Because the jail guard wasn't involved in the RICO sequence of crimes, he was severed from the main case.

Jury selection for the trial of Lugo, Doorbal, and Mese began in late January 1998. Two juries eventually were picked, one to listen to the case against Lugo, the second to hear the evidence against Doorbal and Mese. Both trials would take place simultaneously and in the same courtroom before the two juries. It was a complicated situation, Judge Alex Ferrer explained. Lugo and Doorbal had made separate statements at the time of their arrests that implicated both men. But their admissibility was an issue; Lugo's jury might have to leave the room at certain points. Likewise with Doorbal's.

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17 comments
jossy.infante
jossy.infante

There is pure evil in this world !  Shiller survived because  he had a strong mind, that , and because the "dumb stupid fucks" are just dumb! and that's a good thing, because he'd probably be dead, like Griga and his girlfriend.  Im listening to the real pain and gain the untold story, by Marc Shiller himself, I bought the audio book. 

antoinj2010
antoinj2010

lugo and his crew were beasts,they had a dream and went for it full force with no holds bard 

opps411
opps411

opps41117 minutes ago

 what about the wives and girlfriends ( Lucretia Goodridge
 , are you honestly going to act like you didn't know your husband and father of your kids  was  sleeping with strippers and a murderer and your own cousin  Doorbal is living in your house, even after you see a guy getting tortured for days, and calling yourself a Buddhist and not reporting that .. i guess you enjoyed the finer things in life alil too much ,, some things never change .......       horrible to make a movie to desensitize the reality of these victims pain and their kids really do not deserve this.. i hope someone gets hit with a lawsuit.. and the actors    dont you guys know how to thk for yourself ..   or are just acting like mindless assholes did you read the court docs? smh  


amyamyamyamy
amyamyamyamy

Wow, fascinating article!  I have a few questions, does anyone know any answers?

What happened to the women? Daniel Lugo's ex-wife was the beneficiary on Schiller's life insurance policy - was she charged with anything? Daniel Lugo's current wife witnessed Schiller being held in the warehouse - was she charged with anything? Daniel Lugo's mistress Sabina was charged with theft of a motor vehicle - what was her sentence? Cindy Eldridge was charged as an accessory after the fact for her removal of the bloodstains from Doorbal's townhouse wall and pleaded guilty to criminal mischief - what was her sentence?

The article is curiously vague about John Mese.  Until the very end when he was sentenced to 56 years, I pictured him as a lazy notary who just signed some papers he shouldn't have.  Was he really in on the murders?  For as much detail as there is on many other areas, there is very little comment on the evidence against him.  Any explanation for the omission?

I see that Pete Collins just put out a 78-page book about this subject.  Is it just a reprinting of this article, or is there anything additional that would make it a worthwhile read?

Popcorn
Popcorn

I was really looking for an insight on how the events really happened, thanks for posting this article again. Just need to see the film now & see if it does any justice or if it's just too over the top like all the usual "Based on real events" Hollywood films.

Matthew_in_PB
Matthew_in_PB

That's so Miami. Great movie, and not at all sympathetic to Lugo and his gang.

melvinhermille
melvinhermille

Not one comment from the "officers" who mocked a kidnap and torture victim and whose stunning ineptitude and childish comportment led to the completely avoidable brutal deaths of two innocent people? 

iceberg3o5
iceberg3o5

Unfortunately i doubt that Michael Bay's movie will do this story any kind of justice. Imagine what real directors such as Scorcese, Nolan or Fincher could do with this?  Forget about it!!

mariomendoza666
mariomendoza666

~


I've never been a fan of Michael Bey... 

But, I can definitely understand why he would want to turn this story into a film...

It's a Miami myth... from way back in the day,

It's something you'd heard of through the grape vine... but never actually believed in... 

Until you saw it first hand, on the big screen....with your own eyes ?


~

charmcity7
charmcity7

Holy Crap! And then to top it off, you have a celebrity appearance by Judge Alex :-)

Brasco
Brasco

You can't even make this up if you tried. Just a beyond belief story.

mikeniner5
mikeniner5

Interesting twist there at the end with Schiller and the plea deal for medical billing fraud.  I'd like to know if he ended up ever recouping any of his stolen money, assets, belongs?

mpefun2
mpefun2

only in miami... and only in miami is no one reading the whole thing on its republishing 13 years later.

Mike
Mike

I can't even believe this story is real.  I just spent two hours reading the whole thing.  There are human beings on this planet that would do this to other human beings?  It just boggles the mind.  This story will stay with me for a long, long time. 

opps411
opps411

@amyamyamyamyopps411

17 minutes ago

 what about the wives and girlfriends ( Lucretia Goodridge
 , are you honestly going to act like you didn't know your husband and father of your kids  was  sleeping with strippers and a murderer and your own cousin  Doorbal is living in your house, even after you see a guy getting tortured for days, and calling yourself a Buddhist and not reporting that .. i guess you enjoyed the finer things in life alil too much ,, some things never change .......       horrible to make a movie to desensitize the reality of these victims pain and their kids really do not deserve this.. i hope someone gets hit with a lawsuit.. and the actors    dont you guys know how to thk for yourself ..   or are just acting like mindless assholes did you read the court docs? smh  


builder.b
builder.b

@iceberg3o5  The whole story is just too complex to put into a mere 2 1/2 hour format.  I saw it, and loved it. 

jpoppiti
jpoppiti

@Mike I was absolutely riveted and horrified by the story. Lugo and his crew should all be killed.

 
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