The Suitcase Murders

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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."

Two years later, in June 1998, the couple married. Kim was eight weeks pregnant with their first child. She was a manager for five General Nutrition Centers; he worked as an auto mechanic in Pompano Beach. When daughter Victoria arrived in January 1999 the couple was living in a three-bedroom home with a swimming pool in the back yard and manicured violet flower beds flanking the paved driveway in front.

"She was always a concerned neighbor," recalls Tammy Dalton, who lived next door to the Livesey family in Oakland Park. "She was always very polite, and Michael was a really great guy; he used to fix our car for us."

But according to family and friends, after her daughter's birth, Dietz suffered from postpartum depression and began using drugs again. "She would disappear to Miami for days and weeks at a time," said Debra, one of Kim's sponsors in Alcoholics Anonymous, who declined to give her last name. "Mike and I know that sometimes people make it and sometimes they don't, but when I think that Kim's never coming back I get really sad."

According to court documents, Michael Livesey began to fear for his daughter's security and safety. On May 23, 2000, he filed for divorce, citing "recent drug abuse problems and suicidal tendencies by mother."

Fourteen days later, in the middle of the afternoon, his estranged wife approached an undercover officer at Miami's Legion Park and offered to perform oral sex for $25. She was arrested, charged with soliciting an undercover officer, and booked into county jail. On June 13 she was released on the condition that she would enter a drug treatment facility in South Miami.

Dietz remained at the facility for less than 24 hours.

A few days later Michael received a call from her, and the conversation that ensued often replays in his head: "She said she was done partying and she wanted to come home." It was Tuesday, June 20, 2000. The couple arranged to meet at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at 10:00 p.m. that night near 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

Dietz never showed up. Thirty-six hours later she was found dead.

On August 9, less than two months after Kim Dietz's body was discovered, a woman was walking her dog on the 5300 block of SW 31st Avenue in Dania Beach.

Approximately 50 yards south of the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office she noticed a bulging, four-foot-long black duffel bag in the grass by the road. She tugged the zipper down a couple of inches and saw the curve of a human spine. The details were chillingly familiar.

Wedged inside was the bludgeoned corpse of 21-year-old Sia Demas.

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.

Morgue supervisor Dean Reynolds arrived for his shift at the examiner's office that day at 5:30 a.m. "By the time they had secured the crime scene and pulled her out it was probably about noon," recalls the lanky, blue-eyed Reynolds. "Her body was pretty fresh, not too badly decomposed, and I remember she was on her side," he recalls. "I ended up wheeling a gurney out, we were so close, and took her inside."

The second "suitcase murder" sparked one of the region's largest homicide investigations, staffed by approximately 30 investigators from the Broward Sheriff's Office; Cooper City, City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, and Hollywood police; and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

By the time the South Florida task force announced they had sought assistance from the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) in Quantico, Virginia — the agency credited with profiling some of the most sadistic serial killers of modern history — investigators were all but certain they were looking for one man.

"Police departments don't like to panic people by saying there might be a serial killer on the loose," says Captain Andreu, an investigator on the Tamiami Strangler case. "But when we have a murder that even has the possibility of being a serial killer, we don't take any chances."

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Joanne Green