Neighbors of a Jewish retiree couple slain in their Florida townhouse are still living in fear after police revealed new details of the January 10 double murder.
Police announced March 6 that David Pichosky and Rochelle Wise had been asphyxiated by more than one assailant in their Hallandale Beach condo. Those assailants were likely strangers to the couple, according to cops.
The revelations brought no answers and no relief to Venetian Park, the seaside retirement community where the Toronto couple was found dead.
“Nobody can believe [it],” said Gertrude Baron, who lives near the home where Pichosky and Wise spent their winters. “They were such nice people.”
Officials have been unusually circumspect in revealing the details of the case. Even the cause of death was unknown until nearly two months after the killings.
Police had assured neighbors in the immediate aftermath of the murders that they were in no danger related to the case.
“There is no elevated risk to the public as it relates to a crime spree,” Hallandale Beach police chief Dwayne Flournoy said on January 22, following a meeting with Venetian Park residents.
It’s unclear how those assurances comport with the statement on March 6 that the couple likely did not know their murders.
If the couple did not know the assailants, it’s hard for many to understand why they might not strike again.
At that January meeting with residents, police asked that they remain vigilant. ““I guess they’re saying [to call] if you see people who you think don’t belong here, but we don’t know everybody who belongs here,” said Esther Kolber, a realtor and Venetian Park resident. “A lot of different people live here.”
Flournoy remained tight-lipped at the March 6 press conference. “As we begin to release details, more and more, you will find how senseless this murder is,” Flournoy said. He did not elaborate.
Police have refused to explain exactly how the couple were killed or whether anything was taken. Requests to the Hallandale Beach police department’s public information officers for further comment went unanswered.
In Venetian Park, residents say they have more questions. “We don’t know any more than you know,” Baron said. “Everybody’s guessing.”
This story "Slain Jewish Snowbirds' Neighbors in Florida Condo Still Live in Fear" was written by Josh Nathan-Kazis.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.