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Robbery cited as motive behind murder of Toronto-area couple in Florida

RCMP cordon off a crime scene using police tape.


Robbery may be the motive behind the double murder of a Toronto-area couple in their Florida condo four months ago.

Retired snowbirds David Pichosky and Rochelle Wise were found asphyxiated in what local police chief Dwayne Flournoy described as a "senseless" crime.

Investigators are now saying that Ms. Wise's $16,000 wedding band is missing.

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The discovery was made after evidence was catalogued, the Hallandale Beach Police said in a press release Thursday, which said robbery was a possible motive.

"Now, our leading theory, it's not our only theory – but it's definitely our leading theory – is that it's robbery," Mr. Flournoy told CBS News.

"Detectives implore all pawn shop owners or jewellery exchange businesses to review their inventory and notify police if they are in possession of this or a similar ring," the department said in its release.

The custom-made band is size 6.5, with a platinum finish and five half-carat diamonds. It is engraved with the letters "DCC" inside and has a special locking mechanism allowing it to open at the base.

Just a month ago, Hallandale Beach Police were saying they did not know of a motive for the double killings.

At a press conference, where they released for the first time some details about the case, Mr. Flournoy had said the couple were the victims of at least two killers, who were likely not known to them.

Crime Stoppers USA is offering a $51,000 reward – most of it from an anonymous donor.

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The couple had been spending their winters in Venetian Park, a waterfront neighbourhood of pastel-stucco houses favoured by snowbirds in Hallandale Beach, north of Miami.

They were supposed to have lunch on Jan. 9 with friends who lived nearby but they didn't show up. The next evening, the friends used a spare key to enter the house and discovered the bodies.

Mr. Pichosky and Ms. Wise last spoke with their family via online video chat the previous morning. Later that morning, a security camera recorded a large woman arriving at the victims' house carrying an unidentified item. She went to the back of the house, then left empty-handed.

Police are still trying to identify the woman, saying she might have seen something.

Mr. Pichosky, a 71-year-old who was known as Donny, and Ms. Wise, 66, were a devout, popular couple who were active in their community and had no known enemies.

They lived in North York and married four years ago after meeting on a blind date their children arranged.

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Ms. Wise had been a preschool vice-principal at Bialik Hebrew Day School. She was also a founding director of the Crestwood Valley Day Camp.

Mr. Pichosky was a retired businessman who was an active member of the Shaarei Shomayim synagogue, a Modern Orthodox Jewish congregation.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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