The murders of three women in Florida two decades ago were committed by a Brazilian serial killer who later died in a plane crash, police said Tuesday. CBS Miami reports Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony announced their investigators worked with Miami police to determine that Roberto Wagner Fernandes, a Brazilian national, was their killer.
"This suspect Roberto Fernandes was indeed responsible for the brutal murder of all three of these women," Tony said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The first woman killed, Kimberly Dietz-Livesey, was stuffed into a suitcase and left in Cooper City in June 2000.
The second woman killed, Sia Demas, was put into a duffel bag and was left along a road in Dania Beach days later.
The third woman, identified as Jessica Good, was killed on August 30, 2001. Her body was found floating in Biscayne Bay.
All three women suffered from drug addiction and had engaged in prostitution, officials said.
Suspicion fell on Fernandes, who lived in Miami, as a potential suspect after Good's murder. He fled to Brazil before he could be questioned.
Since the three cases shared similar patterns, detectives from the sheriff's office and Miami Police worked together and clues began to emerge. DNA evidence collected from all three crimes pointed to one as yet unknown culprit. Fingerprints collected at two of the crime scenes were a match, but the identity of the killer remained a mystery.
"Unfortunately, traditional methods of submitting that profile and those fingerprints into automated government systems to see if anybody was a match came back with nothing," said Broward sheriff Detective Zachary Scott
In 2011, Broward sheriff's and Miami police detectives got a huge break. DNA from Good's murder matched the unknown suspect DNA in the Broward murders.
Additionally, fingerprints taken from Fernandes following the death of his wife years earlier matched the fingerprints from the crime scenes.
When investigators went to Brazil to attempt to get DNA evidence from Fernandes, they learned that Fernandes left Brazil for Paraguay and reportedly died in a plane crash there in 2005.
But the detectives had questions about whether he had really died in the crash.
"This case was going to transcend borders and brought in international implications," said Tony.
They worked closely with the Brazilian National Police, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the FBI, and in late 2020 and early 2021, Fernandes' grave was dug up and DNA samples were taken. The results matched the profile from the crime scenes of Kimberly Dietz-Livesey, Sia Demas, and Jessica Good.
"We were able to confirm ultimately that Mr. Fernandes was deceased, the body was exhumed, DNA was taken, and it all matched the profile," said Miami police Sgt. Nikolai Trifonov, who was a detective when he worked on Good's case.
Michael Livesey, the former husband of Kimberly-Dietz-Livesey, waited 20 years for answers.
"My heart goes out to the loved ones of every victim, I hope this gives them a sense of closure as it does to me," he said.
Investigators believe Fernandes may be responsible for other unsolved murders in South Florida.
"I believe there are other cases out there and that is part of our ongoing investigation," said Broward County Detective Zachary Scott.