New Lead in Estefano Shooting Case

A bizarre 25-year-old murder case may hold clues for prosecutors investigating the 2007 shooting of Latin music producer Fabio “Estefano” Salgado. Estefano was shot in the head and chest while sitting in the kitchen of his $5 million Venetian Islands home (“The Shooting of Estefano,” May 8). He survived, and his handyman, Francisco Oliveira, was charged with the crime.

But Estefano later claimed Oliveira didn’t act alone. He said his former business manager, Jose Luis Gil, and members of his Santeria temple, led by Andres Suarez, stole millions from him and wanted him dead.

Estefano sued the church and Gil in civil court and settled the case this past April. But prosecutors continue to investigate the duo’s involvement in the 2007 shooting. Their latest lead: Suarez’s apparent ties to both the 2007 shooting and the Feb. 26, 1983 murder of a botanica owner named Jose Luis Delgado at 3075 NW 23rd Avenue.

Seven months after Delgado was gunned down, Suarez, then a 31-year-old Santeria priest from Cuba, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. According to a 19-page police report, he claimed to be in New Orleans at the time of the shooting. It’s unclear exactly what happened next; no record of the case exists in Miami-Dade’s criminal court records. In all likelihood, Suarez’s charges were dropped, or he was acquitted and the crimes were later expunged from the official record.

Sources close to the Estefano investigation say Suarez’s role in the murder of Delgado is interesting, especially considering the recent account offered by Estefano’s former business manager, Gil, in a 2007 book on Santeria that was dedicated to Suarez. In one chapter, Gil retells details of the 1983 homicide, saying that Delgado threatened to kill Suarez.

Suarez and Delgado struggled over a gun until, Gil wrote, an “invisible force” emerged. “You see, you are not a powerful Santeria leader,” Suarez reportedly yelled to Delgado. “You’re a cowardly bitch.” The “invisible force” then shot Delgado. According to the book, Suarez told followers that the charges would be dropped because of a lack of evidence.

This is stunning news for prosecutors in the Estefano shooting case – Oliveira, the accused, goes before a jury on Aug. 18. Jay Thornton, who represented Estefano in his civil case against Suarez and Gil, says, “I understand that the State Attorney's Office continues to investigate whether others were involved in Estefano's shooting. I don't believe this saga ends with Mr. Oliveira's trial. Once all the stones have been turned, I believe the reasons Estefano (brought) his civil lawsuit will become obvious, if they are not already.”

--Tamara Lush

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