South American plane crash victim identified as suspected US serial killer

US authorities say a Brazilian man who died in a plane crash in South America in 2005 was responsible for the slayings of three Florida women two decades ago.

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said DNA matches conclusively identified the culprit as Roberto Fernandes, who fled to Brazil in 2001 shortly after his final victim's body was discovered in Miami.

At that time, police wanted to question Fernandes in connection to the killing, but Brazil has no extradition treaty with the US.

READ MORE: Police find body in search for missing mum Rene Latimore

Brazilian man Roberto Wagner Fernandes was found responsible for the death of three women in Florida 20 years ago.

Sheriff Tony said at a news conference that "justice never expires" even if decades pass for a cold murder case.

He also described Fernandes as a "suspected serial killer" who may have had other victims.

"Cold cases typically sit for months, maybe even years, before they are resolved," Sheriff Tony said.

The first victim discovered on June 22, 2000 in Cooper City, Florida, was Kimberly Dietz-Livesey, whose badly beaten body was crammed into a suitcase along a road.

On August 9, 2000 the body of Sia Demas, also beaten to death, was found stuffed in a duffel bag along another road near Dania Beach, Florida.

A year later, on August 30, 2001, the body of Jessica Good was recovered floating in Biscayne Bay in Miami.

She had been fatally stabbed.

All three women had substance abuse problems and turned to prostitution to support their habits, investigators said.

From left, Kimberly Dietz-Livesey, Sia Demas and Jessica Good were killed by Roberto Fernandes who later died in a plane crash in South America.

READ MORE: Man gets life sentence in 2018 killing of Mollie Tibbetts

One fingerprint and some DNA samples were discovered at the 2001 crime scene but no match was initially found in criminal databases.

It wasn't until authorities ran the evidence through Brazilian authorities that a match came up for Fernandes, officials said.

"That was a key piece of evidence," Broward Sheriff's Detective Zach Scott said at a news conference.

In Brazil, Fernandes had been acquitted of killing his wife on a self-defence claim.

Detective Scott said the wife's family was bitter about the case and may have sought to have Fernandes killed in retaliation, leading to his decision to flee to Paraguay.

Jessica Good's body was found floating in Biscayne Bay in Miami.

READ MORE: Melbourne Hells Angels club house raided in search for suspected murdered Adelaide man

That's when Fernandes died in a plane crash, his body returned to Brazil for burial.

A judge there was persuaded recently to order the body exhumed, where Florida investigators were able to obtain a DNA sample after concluding he had not faked his death.

"It did take some time to confirm his death," Miami police Sergeant Nikolai Trifonov said.

"People do fake their deaths."

There may have been additional victims.

In the US, Fernandes worked for a Miami tour company and also as a flight attendant at times, officials said.

"I believe there are other cases out there. There is no limit as to where he could travel," Detective Scott said.

Leave a Comment