Adrianna's Fall

A teenager plummets from a luxury high-rise, leaving behind a mystery.

When police arrived, a manager let them into the fifth-floor apartment. Adrianna appeared to have died on impact. Her cell phone was found the next day in a planter nearby.

Up in Williamson's apartment, police found a glass pipe in a drawer. Tests showed it had Chapman's fingerprints on it. In Adrianna's purse were five pills, although a police report doesn't specify what kind.

Immediately in the wake of the incident, Peter Aurigemma was frustrated with the police response. His daughter was afraid of heights, he swore, so there was no way she would have climbed over the railing. He said he had been a cop but "I'm retired now — I'm just John Q. Citizen, I don't have a badge anymore."

News reports from spring 2000 show that Peter Aurigemma was an undercover detective, fired from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office for falsifying a cocaine buy so that police could shut down a reputed drug haven. Friends and fellow officers characterized him as a well-respected if overeager officer who had made an error in judgment.

Adrianna's friend Samsel says Adrianna had tried crystal meth with Barnes two days before she died. "She called me and said she couldn't believe he let her talk her into it," Samsel remembers. "She felt so dirty." Adrianna worried that Samsel would no longer be her friend. "I told her to calm down. She needed to learn how to say no to peer pressure."

Samsel believes Adrianna's death wasn't an accident. "Someone must have pushed her," she says. "I don't see her being on that balcony. It doesn't make sense." She also can't imagine Adrianna would have avoided her father. "She would've just gone with him. She wasn't scared of him at all."

Months after her death, toxicology tests determined Adrianna's system included oxycodone, THC, amphetamines, methamphetamine, and benzodiazepines. Police ruled her death an accident and closed the case.

Fort Lauderdale Police spokesman Frank Sousa says the drugs in Adrianna's system spoke for themselves. He says his agency did not make any drug-related arrests of the men at the scene because police have no authority to arrest someone for simply admitting drug use, and it would be difficult to prove ownership of the pipe.

In a report, Det. John Curcio wrote, "Though the credibility of the two subjects in the bedroom with the victim may come into question due to their drug use and past arrest history, there is no factual, physical, or testimonial evidence to show they were even out on the balcony with the victim when she fell." There was no struggle, and "no logical motive" for either of the men to do her harm, he wrote. She might have been trying to climb to a lower ledge and slipped.

Still, some people have wondered how Chapman could have fallen asleep if he had just smoked crystal meth, since the drug usually makes users hyperactive. Chapman could not be reached for comment.

Barnes did not return phone calls from New Times, but Nicky Amendolaro, who used to be one of his closest friends, says Barnes "took it hard" when people suspected he might have played a role in Adrianna's death. Barnes's MySpace page reads, "Only God can judge me." His pictures include two of his mug shots and a photo showing the nighttime view from a balcony of the Waverly apartment.

The condo owner, Williamson, says he has moved out and the apartment is in foreclosure. "I wanted to get away," he says. "Once in a while, I still have nightmares."

Adrianna's family has not returned calls since the release of police documents. But shortly after the incident, Peter Aurigemma said, "I don't even know how life goes on at this point. I'm trying to hold it together for my family, but it seems like there's no life ahead for me or anybody. But I know the sun will rise and set every day. Life has to go on." The death made him question his religion. Adrianna's mother was too distraught to speak.

Peter described Adrianna's funeral. The family took Sparky with them to the cemetery. "He could sense something was wrong," Peter said. "He sniffed the coffin and he started crying. It broke my heart."

A Loxahatchee man who releases doves at special events — usually weddings — offered to set free some of his birds. A funny thing happened. Peter said the doves normally circle one or two times before dispersing, but at the funeral, they lingered and circled for about 45 minutes. The bird man said he had never seen such a thing.

Peter Aurigemma said it was as though Adrianna couldn't bear to leave the world. His voice strained, he remembered thinking, "I'm sorry, but Daddy just can't fix it. I can't make it better this time."

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