By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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From the beginning, he eyed the investigation with suspicion. It had taken Collier County a month to identify the body. Gary learned investigators had contacted Miami-Dade, but not Broward, about matching their Jane Doe with known runaways. There was also confusion about who was quarterbacking the case. Marissa was found in Collier County, but police believed she had been killed in Broward.
Also, the body had been dumped off I-75. There were no exits along the road, but no one had bothered to pull camera footage or interview staffers manning the toll booths the night of the dump.
"Listen, I'm not a cop, but you would think there was one way in and one way out — it would be common sense," Marissa's brother, Josh, says. "Because of half-assed bullshit, we lost so much groundwork. So many different things could have made a difference."
"He got a lot of people pissed off," remembers Ray Carmody, a retired BSO detective who was one of the first investigators to work Marissa's case. "You would get something going and he'd want to know right off the bat. He would just keep going after it. I would keep telling him the same thing: 'If I tell you right now, it could wreck the case.'"
Gary was driven, perhaps, by regrets about the way he had dealt with his daughter's grief over her mother's death. "I could have done things differently. I could have been a better father, although I don't think I was a bad father," he says. "If you're an explosives technician, there's not a hell of a lot of room for a mistake. It's the same thing with parenthood. One mistake, you go boom."
Month followed month with no arrests. Gary decided to change his tactics. He started working cops like cops work suspects — bluffing his way into new details when talking with investigators by pretending to know more than he did.
It helped that so many cops from two departments were working different pieces of the case. If a BSO detective mentioned a person of interest named Ingraham, Gary would pivot to Collier.
Through stolen bits and pieces, Gary cobbled together a rough sketch of Marissa's last months. He learned about Sue's Efficiencies and Coakley. In all his years in South Florida, he wasn't sure if he'd ever met a Bahamian. When he saw where his daughter likely died, his mind endlessly staged the possible details of her last moments.
A year after the shooting, the investigation seemed to stall. BSO investigators didn't get anywhere after a first pass at Coakley and other Bahamian associates. No one talked, and there was little evidence. Soon enough, Coakley left the country.
But nobody could talk Gary into quitting. He held yearly news conferences on the anniversary of her death. Each new week meant another round of phone calls to detectives. And he gathered thousands of court documents, including those from seemingly unrelated cases. Whoever killed his daughter was probably involved in other crimes, he reasoned.
"You always want to believe there is more than meets the eye," Gary says. "I just followed my hunches, which is what [cops] do."
When police walked through the door of the nondescript apartment in Sunrise just off Oakland Park Boulevard the morning of October 10, 2002, the living room looked like a slumber party interrupted by trigger play.
Inside apartment 328 at the Boardwalk at Inverrary, a pocket of low-rent apartments painted lipstick pink and pale peach, two men were lying dead on the floor. Twenty-year-old Calvin Russell's face was pressed into a pillow, a gray blanket covering his lower half. Blood flowed from holes where a bullet had punched through the back of his head and out his right cheek. Two additional shots punctured the arms that emerged from his white T-shirt.
Thirty-four-year-old Cardwell Heastie was laid out in a similar position — draped in a gray blanket, his arms gripping a pillow. Gunfire had blasted through his neck and shoulders. A third man had been paralyzed after being shot twice in the hallway.
Cops found $17,000 stuffed in a garbage bag in a back bedroom, records show. Witnesses reported two unknown black men had been spotted nearby that morning, but details were vague. The strongest evidence police had was that one of the men involved went by the nickname "D-Boy."
On October 21, 2002, BSO contacted the Bahamas, where detectives quickly learned the shooting was drug-related, the work of a Bahamian living in Broward named Ryan "Whitey" Woods. He had been hired by a drug dealer for $10,000 to kill the men after some cocaine had been stolen.
Then, in a January 2003 jailhouse interview, cops hit pay dirt. A snitch reported two others had been hired along with Woods to recover the drugs or money. One of them was Marissa Karp's boyfriend, Almanto Coakley.
That wasn't enough for the cops. "There was no confirmation of any of this information to be true," a tepid note in the case file reads. "Detectives did attempt to locate Woods and Coakley in this entire investigation but have never been able to confirm true or positive identifications on either subject."
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Don't give up Mr. Karp. You give hope to loved one's working on unresolved cases and remind the murderer's not to underestimate the determination or ability of a victims' loved one to get to the truth.
Perhaps your article shedding more light on this case will eventually help solve this murder and give some measure of closure to this heartbroken father and brother. This is my first knowledge of it but I will be following in the future.