The Suitcase Murders

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

In 1996 Demas gave birth to a son, of whom Saiger now has custody. But motherhood didn't stem her wild ways. In the years that followed a 1998 drug charge, she violated probation six times.

"It was sad because her mom kept trying to help her," says May, "but we would always find her hanging out in Tent City with these much older homeless men." In May 1999, May sentenced Demas to eighteen months in prison and ordered her to complete an eight-month drug treatment program and parenting course. "I felt it was the best thing for her," she says.

In a handwritten note Demas penned to May shortly before leaving prison, she said, "Sorry for all the trouble I have caused you. You have helped me a lot and I thank you, but you can believe me, I'm not going to mess up again."

Brian Stauffer
Brian Stauffer

Demas was released on July 2, 2000, after serving thirteen months in the Pembroke Pines facility. She was 21 years old. She was sober. She had a four-year-old son and a loving mother.

"I never stopped loving her," said Saiger. "I never stopped trying to help her. People think she was a throwaway person, but they forget she had a family who loved her."

Within two weeks Demas was begging friends for money. She wanted to buy drugs, according to family friend Joe Keane. "If she was a really bad person, I wouldn't have tried to help her," Keane told reporters shortly after Demas's death. Demas used Keane's Wilton Manors address on occasion to receive mail, but he refused to fund her addiction. "You can't help someone who won't help themselves," he said.

"Drug addiction is a chronic illness," says Chip Hobbs, who supervises South Miami Hospital's Residential Addiction Treatment Program. He is also a recovered crack addict, sober since 1984. "The drug literally hijacks the human being and their life and it tells them, öGo get more.' It tells a person what to do and when to do it. Forget the dangers, forget the consequences; addiction says, 'Go feed me.'"

On August 8, another prostitute, Nicole Bullard, told police she and Demas were on the 6700 block of Biscayne Boulevard. Shortly before 3:00 a.m. Bullard says a man in a dark color Chevy 1500 truck pulled up and flashed a wad of cash. She claims the pickup had tinted windows, an extended cab, a thin chrome sun visor, chrome rims, and big tires.

Demas climbed in next to the driver, whom Bullard described as a white male, approximately 40 years old, with a stocky build and a mustache. Twenty-four hours later, her battered body was discovered in Dania Beach.

The homicide cases of Kim Dietz Livesey and Sia Demas are still open.

The blood-stained carpet at the Knight's Inn turned out to have come from a menstruating dog. Like every other tip police investigated, it failed to lead to the man who killed the two young mothers.

To date, there are at least fourteen unsolved prostitute homicides in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for which investigators have no reliable eye witnesses, obvious suspects, or jailhouse confessions to help track the killer. None have been positively linked to the Dietz and Demas murders.

In the months and years since the murders, the bodies of nine more women were found dumped in various spots in and around Miami-Dade and Broward.

Two were discovered in containers.

In April 2001, the bludgeoned body of 26-year-old Rebeca Pena was found in a zippered suitcase floating in the Biscayne Canal beneath I-95 several blocks north of NW 151st Street. While police did not rule out the possibility that the case may be linked to the suitcase murders, domestic violence claims and a dispute over the parental rights of her three-year-old daughter reveal a history of physical and emotional conflict with Pena's former high school sweetheart, who fathered her child. Pena had never been arrested. The investigation into her murder is still open.

Although police never identified the Jane Doe discovered in April 2005 on the border between Broward and Palm Beach counties, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jeff Andrews says they "could find no link to the prostitute homicides."

Yet the notion that a short while ago a serial killer — who was never caught — hunted for prey among South Florida's prostitutes does little to dissuade women today away from eking out a living on the streets.

"Tara" — who declined to give New Times her surname — is 21 years old. She stands five-foot-four and weighs approximately 105 pounds, her slight frame capped by an unkempt, sandy blond mane. Tara claims her biological father raped her before leaving the family's Alabama home when she was almost six years old. Most of her mother's subsequent stream of lovers, she alleges, also abused her. In July 2005 she ran away.

She now calls Miami home but has no permanent address. She is a self-described junkie and earns a living by sleeping with men for money. She says she once gave a blowjob for five dollars. She needed cigarettes.

"At least I am my own boss," she giggles, her blistered lips parting to reveal a mouthful of chipped, stained teeth. "I would rather be out here and be free than be trapped by bills and all that other stuff."

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