Watch CBS News

Man charged in beating death of woman in front of Miami City Ballet on Miami Beach

Arrest made after woman's body found in front of Miami City Ballet on Miami Beach
Arrest made after woman's body found in front of Miami City Ballet on Miami Beach 02:42

MIAMI - An arrest has been made after the body of a woman, who was brutally beaten in front of the Miami City Ballet on Miami Beach, was discovered early Tuesday morning.

Arrest made in beating death of woman in Miami Beach 02:22

Gregory Gibert, 53, was charged with second-degree murder. During a court appearance on Thursday, the charge was raised to first degree murder and he was denied bond.  

According to police, a security guard discovered what he thought was a person sleeping near the entrance to the ballet at 2200 Liberty Avenue around 6:45 a.m. When he tried to wake her, she was unresponsive. That's when he saw the blood around her and called 911.

Police and fire rescue arrived. They said the woman, identified as 37-year-old Andrea Dos Passos, was dead and had massive trauma to her face and head. Dos Passos was currently experiencing homelessness.

Surveillance video from the ballet shows Dos Passos, who is a trans woman according to her stepfather, arriving near midnight and lying down near the entrance. In the early morning hours, a man arrived, looked around, and spotted her. Police said the man was dressed in a black shirt, red shorts, and red shoes.

At one point, he walked away, picked up a metal pipe from the ground, and then returned. After looking around, he sat on a bench near Dos Passos. After a while, he got up and repeatedly hit her in the head and face while she was sleeping, according to police.

"The male is then seen standing over her, striking her, and then manipulating her body. The male then walks away and places the pipe inside a nearby trashcan (the pipe was found and recovered in the same trashcan)," according to the arrest report.

Police noted that in addition to trauma on her face and head, two wooden sticks were lodged in her nostrils and there was a puncture wound in her chest.

CBS News Miami's Peter D'Oench spoke exclusively with the Dos Passos's stepfather Victor Van Gilst.

"She had no chance to defend herself whatsoever. I don't know if this was a hate crime since she was transgender or if she had some sort of interaction with this person because he might have been homeless as well. The detective could not say if she was attacked because she was transgender," said Van Gilst. "She has been struggling with mental health issues for a long time, going back to when she was in her early 20s. We did everything we could to help her. My wife is devasted. For her, this is like a nightmare that turned into reality. Andrea moved around a lot and even lived in California for a while. She was sadly homeless. I feel the system let her down. She was a good person." 

During the investigation, detectives identified Gibert as a "person of interest."

According to police, when they located Gibert he was wearing the same "unique" basketball shoes seen in the surveillance video. He was also reportedly wearing pajama-style pants over what appeared to be red shorts.

Police collected his clothing, noting the red shorts were the same type in the video and had blood on them. Blood was also found on his shoes, according to police.

Gibert was taken into custody and charged. 

Kristen Browde, Vice President of the Flamingo Democrats (Miami-Dade County's LGBTQ Democratic Caucus), said they plan to call on the State's Attorney to add a hate crimes charge to the current second-degree murder charge.

Ron Book, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said "I want to praise Miami Beach police for their swift investigation efforts to apprehend Mr. Gibert. The life on the street for anybody is both painful and difficult. One of the things sadly is that a homeless person has the life expectancy of 13 to 17 years less than you or I."

"Tragedies like this one only serve to remind us of how dangerous it is to live on the streets. This is why the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is steadfast in its efforts to house people experiencing homelessness and bring an end to unsheltered homelessness. Thanks to the smart and aggressive detective work of Miami Beach Police Department and Miami-Dade County Police Department, a suspect was apprehended quickly. We trust the legal system will find justice for Andrea dos Passos," Book added.

Florida House of Representative Fabian Basabe of District 109, which includes Miami Beach, released a statement regarding the attack and its impact on people struggling with homelessness.

"We live in a violent world and our first defense is the will to help and to protect each other. I urge our homeless community to become aware and take advantage of the resources HB 1365 has made available."

"Now a Law and Order City, Miami Beach still has only half the needed police force on the streets and the job remains difficult and extensive."

"Do not place yourselves in a situation of present danger. You are vulnerable without shelter but have a choice to take it; so please use these resources - YOUR RESOURCES: For safety, to eat, sleep and rest and for medical attention, if needed."

"We are here for you. This is a terrible crime. A human life was taken from our city and this should not have happened."

Leadership at Pridelines, an LGBTQ+ community center that connects people with wrap-around services, sees room for greater investment in resources for people like Dos Passos struggling with homelessness.

"If I'm a person that maybe identifies as a gay male, I may not feel safe in a shelter because I have to deal with fending for myself because I'm a gay male and people are picking on me," Dr. Summers said.

"We've dealt with individuals who have been in shelters who are attacked for their gender identity or because of their sexual orientation. So, there are safety issues. There are so many issues. What this tragic event caused attention is (on) the fact that we don't have sufficient resources to house our population, our housing insecure population, particularly for a person who identifies as a trans individual. There's almost no housing resources here in Miami-Dade County for that individual." 

A check of records Shows Gibert has been arrested before for cocaine possession, aggravated assault, theft, battery and trespassing."

"The suspect has an extensive criminal record and reportedly was recently released from custody on probation for prior criminal charges. Police apprehended the suspect in the City of Miami and the investigation is currently ongoing. This case is further evidence that individuals need to be held accountable for prior violent crimes for the protection of the public. We offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victim," Miami Beach Mayor Steve Meiner said in a statement. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.