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Saturday, July 26, 2014

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Fla. police release details about Toronto couple's murder

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Donny Pichosky and Rochelle Wise

Crime Stoppers is offering a $51,000 (US) reward for information leading to an arrest for the murders of Rochelle Wise and Donny Pichosky. The Toronto snowbirds, who were found dead in their Hallandale Beach condominium townhouse Jan. 10, died of asphyxiation, Hallandale Beach police revealed at a press conference March 5.

Hallandale Beach police chief Dwayne Flournoy told reporters there were at least two perpetrators, and police have “no reason to believe the people responsible were known to [the couple].”

Flournoy would not comment on the gender of the perpetrators, nor on their motive or whether they took anything from the couple’s home.

Wise, 66, was a retired preschool administrator at Bialik Hebrew Day School, and a former director of Crestwood Valley Day Camp. Pichosky, her husband of four years, was a retired businessman who volunteered with seniors at Baycrest. The couple belonged to Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto.

Flournoy said police are still hoping to identify a woman seen on a neighbour’s security surveillance video Jan. 9. She may be a witness and not even know it, he said. “She may have seen a car… It’s someone we need to identify.”

He appealed to anyone who knows “any bit of information” as well as to one of the perpetrators who may be “less culpable” than the other or others.

“Your freedom is short-lived, but your incarceration may be diminished if you’re the one that comes forward and tells us what happened,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the murder would be solved. “It may not be tomorrow, it may not be in a month… I may be sitting home retired in 10, 15, 20 years, but this case is going to be solved, trust me.”

One of the reasons police did not initially release many details, he said, was because of the “volumes” of evidence.

“We’re still in the early process of going through the evidence. The lab has placed us on high priority… We just need that one piece to the puzzle, so we can fill it all in.”

A January visit to Toronto by Flournoy and other members of his team helped them develop and test theories, he said.

Wise’s son Jamie, speaking at the press conference, likewise expressed his confidence in the chief and his team.

Pichosky and Wise spent the morning of Jan. 9 at synagogue, then headed to Walmart, and later spoke to a family member on FaceTime.

A neighbour became concerned when the couple didn’t show up for a planned lunch and failed to answer repeated phone calls.

Flournoy said the murder angers him. Wise and Pichosky “have no enemies. They were nice people. They were enjoying their retirement, their new marriage. They went to shows, went out to eat, they went to temple, they loved their grandkids.”

He added it was “almost laughable” that one of the tips had to do with a “windfall” at the casino. The only reason Pichosky went to the casino is because he loved to take his grandchildren to the ice cream parlour there, Flournoy said.

Jamie Wise told reporters that his mother and Pichosky were “very caring people… She worked hard her whole life and finally found love.”

The couple had met on a blind date. Pichosky, a widower, had been married to his first wife, Sandra, for 46 years. Wise was divorced.

“It’s so sad on so many levels, because it’s senseless. It was so the wrong time,” Jamie Wise said.

“Today we’re putting the pain aside, so we can appeal to everyone, if they know any bit of information that can help us solve this, then that’s what today is for.”

Wise’s friend, Pearl Gladman, also speaking at the press conference, described Wise as the sister she never had.

She said she felt “a tremendous loss” that hurts even more because the murder happened in one of the couple’s favourite places. “They loved this area a lot,” she said.

Gladman said Wise had been “so happy… She always said God was good to her.”

To contact Crime Stoppers, call 954-493-TIPS, 1-866-493-TIPS (8477), or go to www.browardcrimestoppers.org.

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