Florida police seek multiple suspects in Toronto couple's deaths
Published Wednesday, March 6, 2013 6:52AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:15PM EST
Police are looking for more than one suspect in the double homicide of a Toronto couple found dead in their Florida vacation home in early January.
Calling the crime a “senseless” act, Hallandale Beach Police provided an update Wednesday morning on the deaths of 66-year-old Rochelle Wise and her husband, 71-year-old David Pichosky.
“Based on the evidence, we know there are multiple culprits involved in this double homicide,” said Hallandale Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy. “We have not been able to identify a motive.”
Flournoy revealed the couple died as a result of asphyxiation -- the first time the cause of death has been mentioned since the couple was found dead on Jan. 10. He would not say how they were asphyxiated, whether by hand or with a ligature.
The couple’s bodies were discovered inside their Hallandale Beach home by a neighbour after they failed to meet friends for lunch. Police said they have yet to identify a woman caught by a surveillance camera walking next to and then around back of the home the previous day. In that video she is carrying an object when she first appears on camera, and then reappears later without it.
“We just need that one break, that one piece of the puzzle,” Flournoy said.
On Wednesday, investigators released more surveillance-video footage, this time of the couple walking into a local Walmart two days before they were found dead.
The last people known to have seen the couple alive were their family members back in Toronto, police said Wednesday. They spoke to them via Apple’s Facetime on the morning of Jan. 9 – a full day before the pair was discovered dead.
By all accounts, police said the couple was well-liked in the area, which leaves officers searching for a motive.
“The more evidence that we collect from this case … it just angers me,” said Flournoy. “It angers me that someone came into this home and killed these two people who -- from what we have been able to identify -- had no enemies. They were nice people. They were enjoying their retirement.”
He added: “It is a sad, sad situation that this couple that found themselves together later in life had to die this way.”
Friends and family explained that Wise and Pichosky met and fell in love about four years ago after being set up by friends.
The two successfully blended their families from previous marriages and were just beginning to enjoy retirement together, said Rochelle’s son Jamie Wise.
“We’re here today for my mom and for Donny, because they can’t be here right now,” he said.
“We’re looking for any little bit of information. Please call Crime Stoppers, help the police, help our family get through this difficult time.”
Wise and Pichosky split their time between Toronto and Hallandale Beach -- a gated, waterfront community located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Wise was well-known in Toronto as the founding director of Crestwood Valley Day Camp and as vice-principal at Bialik Hebrew Day School.
Friends said the couple arrived in Florida at the start of November and were planning to return to Toronto in early April.
Flournoy said as police are able to release more details, “the public will be shocked just to know how senseless this murder was.”
Local Crimestoppers in Florida is offering a $51,000 reward for any tips that lead to an arrest in the case. Crimestoppers can be reached at 1-866-493-TIPS (8477).