The Suitcase Murders

He hasn't struck lately, but South Florida's fourth serial prostitute killer is likely still on the loose

British long-distance cyclist Anthony Gunn was pedaling north along an isolated expanse of U.S. 27 into Palm Beach County as daylight began to fade on Monday, April 18, 2005. Gunn, who was biking through the southern United States, began looking for a suitable place to camp overnight.

As he searched his surroundings he noticed a large, blue Rubbermaid container partially hidden in the thicket of weeds by the road. Curious, he stopped, unclipped his shoes, wheeled his bike over, and pried open the corner.

Stuffed inside was the naked body of a woman.

Brian Stauffer
Brian Stauffer

"I saw a hand," he told a reporter. "It was a corpse ... it was sick."

The victim was white, five feet tall, weighed 110 to 120 pounds, and had sandy brown hair and a scar across her stomach. Investigators never identified the corpse, but certain things about the case were eerily familiar.

Twenty-six women with prostitution or drug-related arrest records have been brutally slain in the past dozen years in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. One was decapitated and had her heart carved out before she was dumped near a rural Miami road. Four women were strangled and set on fire. Another woman was decapitated and dismembered, her limbs scattered in New River, near Samuel Delavoe Park in Fort Lauderdale. Prosecutors successfully linked several of the murders to three serial killers — Rory "the Tamiami Strangler" Conde, Fransico Del Junco, and Charlie Brandt — who preyed upon South Florida prostitutes between September 1994 and March 1996. Fourteen of those cases remain unsolved.

Since 2000 the bodies of four victims have been found stuffed in containers and left near major roadways. Police believe at least two murders were committed by the same man, whom they have dubbed "the suitcase murderer."

He has never been caught.

"Serial killers don't just stop. They can't," says West Miami Police Department Capt. Nelson Andreu, who investigated six South Florida serial murder cases during his twenty-year tenure as a homicide detective with the Miami Police Department. "They might get killed, get deported, or they go to jail in another state and perhaps no one links them because there is no reason to, but they don't just stop. They have a killing machine cycle set up. They can't stop."

Shortly after dusk on Tuesday, June 20, 2000, 35-year-old Kim Dietz Livesey said goodbye to her roommate and left the peach-color duplex they shared in El Portal. Dressed in a blue top and a pale-color flowered skirt, the five-foot-six, 120-pound brunette walked down NE 95th Street, past the parked cars lining the sidewalk, and disappeared into the night.

She was supposed to meet her estranged husband, Mike Livesey, at 10:00 p.m. She never arrived.

Just after 8:00 a.m. the following Thursday, almost twenty miles away in Cooper City, an electrician and his girlfriend were heading northbound in rush hour traffic along Flamingo Road. As they passed Sheridan Street, they spotted a suitcase near the shoulder. The dark brown luggage seemed to be in good condition, so they pulled their white pickup over to the grass some ten feet away. The woman got to the bag first, but it was too heavy for her to lift. When the boyfriend realized he couldn't lift it either, he wondered what could possibly be weighing it down.

He folded back the top of the 30-inch-wide canvas case and recoiled in horror. Wedged inside in a fetal position was the body of Kim Dietz Livesey.

Blood caked her face. Her shoulder-length wavy hair lay in matted clumps across her battered flesh. She was naked. The only thing cloaking her pale skin were four tattoos.

She had been beaten to death.

Tucked inside the suitcase was a blood-stained blue top and a pale-color flowered skirt.

"I will never forget the image of that poor woman's body shoved into the suitcase," says former Cooper City Det. David Frisbie. "It's branded in my head."

In the six years he spent policing the tranquil town of Cooper City before Dietz's death, Frisbie had investigated burglaries, thefts, and harassing phone calls. He had never hunted a killer.

"Cooper City was a quiet place," he says during a recent phone conversation from his home in the Midwest, where he now works in construction. "We must have averaged about one murder every year."

That warm summer morning in June 2000, Frisbie became one of five detectives charged with identifying and capturing Dietz's killer. The five-member squad began the painstaking process of reconstructing her life to determine the people, places, and events that led up to her disappearance.

"It didn't make any difference she was a prostitute," he says. "I related to her because when all this happened my son was a year-and-a-half [old] and my daughter had just been born. Kim had a daughter a similar age."

Despite a seemingly wild existence that began in Hialeah in 1965, the later stages of Kim Dietz's life suggested domesticated bliss. She was the youngest of four children, the only girl, and spent her youth the same way many people do: partying and playing. By age 29 she decided she'd had enough and enrolled in a Broward County rehab program. It was three years after embracing sobriety, at a "three-quarters" house in Hollywood, that she met her then-33-year-old future husband, Michael Livesey. "She was working there, taking care of kids, and we became friends," recalled Michael, "but I didn't even get a kiss for six months."

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