Retirement in the Everglades
When they submerged Cantor’s body in the sawgrass marsh, there were gators that tore and gnawed until his five feet two inches frame was green and raw from the eventual decomposition. However, the human remains of Cantor’s departure remained relevant because of a father and son fishing trip. Gerry Torre’s nine year old son told his dad that he caught an Oscar, but to Gerry’s shock it was not a fish. It could be the possible missing person from the Miami Herald story that Gerry read about four days ago: a business man named Jorge Cantor.
As the proprietor of Cantor’s Used Car Lot, Jorge’s salesmen lacked the skills to “Sell—Sell—Sell,” as he would tell them when each customer arrived. But to no avail, his ‘Sell’ spiel spoiled and he had to work his lot, like 25 years prior, to make a deal.
At his desk, Jorge waited for the opportunity and they arrived: two tall men dressed in business suites. He realized the time was late, but a pending sale was a potential sale in his mind. One look in the office mirror: perfect hair, teeth with a gloss, and he straightened out his tie. Jorge’s personal presentation with his slick shtick verbiage was now tailored and taught.
Ted and Ned Othello, two brothers with a criminal history that hauled in mostly petty crimes, were prepared for a big heist. In periods throughout the week the two brothers staked Cantor’s lot and calculated their hot spot. They were looking for the perfect time to trap with a potential buyer rap to con an employee.
On some days Jorge would release his last two salespeople before the lot closed at 7pm—especially when sales were low. He never had a problem with crime in the Hollywood neighbored on State Road 7 and Pembroke Road. Jorge didn’t have a security guard, just two cameras pointed at the gated entrance. His secretary would usually leave with him, but she left early due to her sick child. On this Friday evening in November, Jorge, on the lot alone, introduced himself to the two men with a sale in mind.
Ted, the talkative one, who wore a brown suit, expressed his interest in a truck, “Preferably with an extended cab,” he said. Ted expressed this request into great detail while he scoped the capacity of the car lot again. Ned wore an almost identical suit, but with a satchel over his right shoulder. He stared at Jorge as he agreed with Ted. Ned simply said yes while he also scoped the 100 vehicles that were bordered on three sides by a high fence.
Unbeknownst to the proprietor, a man with a good deed for every need to offer people; a salesperson, who was slick with words, but never sold a lemon—he would soon take the bait of the Othello brothers and meet his fate.
After he threw his best pitches and played down the price for the brother’s choice, Jorge was for certain that the sale was in the mail, but the moment of his discontent was a short drive away.
“Jorge, we need to rush, we will purchase that black Ford F150…you’ll have to excuse our need to finish this transaction,” Ted said.
“Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve made a decision Ted, that 2010 model is only four years old with great mileage. Let’s make our way to the office and I’ll get the documents prepared,” Jorge said with a swift forward hand motion and a gait to match.
As the brothers followed Jorge, they looked at each other with confidence. The planned week occurred just as scheduled, even better because they didn’t foresee that Jorge would be alone. They entered the office and took their seat as Jorge had requested. The question of payment arose and the second part of the plan, the most crucial, developed.
Ted reached in his coat pocket and in a rude manner told Jorge that the payment would be cash. An uneasy sensation on the salesman’s face removed the usual car talk conversation. At this point in the sale, Jorge would have been congenial, but the stare from the Othello brothers boarded up the door. Ted pulled out a gun, and Ned was no longer mum…
“We have a proposition for you Jorge…You’re going to give us the truck, and you’re going to give us the money for the truck,” Ned said in a salacious statement and pulled out his gun as well.
“I’ll give you everything,” Jorge pleaded; He began the second part of his plea, “Please don’t take my life.” But he was cut off by Ted.
“We will take everything,” laughed Ted.
Ned stood up and walked over to the side of the desk where Jorge sat.
The only word Jorge said after he handed the available cash was, “Emptied.” To his misfortune, ‘emptied’ was the best word used to describe the souls of the Othello brothers.
“Tell me…where is the feed for the video recorder? I caution you at this point not to compromise my time.” Ted said.
Jorge reached behind his desk with caution, to the left bottom drawer of the cabinet behind him. Ned, who stared and stood by him, told him to disconnect it and place it on the floor.
He followed their commands, turned in his seat, faced Ted, and faced the fear for his life with each weighted heart beat.
Ted aimed his gun at Jorge’s head, and as soon as Jorge placed his hands up to plead once more, Ned whipped him with his pistol. The first blow knocked him to the floor. The second hit, with the handle of the gun, sliced his forehead and created a gash. Ted walked over the body and stomped on his head until it sounded hollow.
“Let’s go,” Ted said, “pull out the tarp (pointing at Ned’s satchel), and drag his body by the feet so you won’t step in his blood. Let’s be quick.” The Othello’s professional pick-up and placement of the body in the tarp was routine—diabolical.
To the Othellos, their joy of painting the town red on the last three weekends was to inflict pain to and bludgeon victims. They had killed twice; the first victim was in Tampa: an elderly lady left a mall. The brothers watched people all evening, when a new BMW pulled up, and an old lady, laden in ‘bling,’ as Ned described her, walked into the mall. She was later found in her trunk, naked of her all her possessions except the one the brothers gave her, a rope around her neck. The vehicle was registered under the name, Sue Allen Brody. Sue was 79, and she was abandoned in a two acre lot full of high weeds and a few dense trees with a “For Sale” sign posted next to a dark road.
The second victim, and most recent, was a proprietor of a small pizza restaurant in Melbourne. This murder, from a burglary, was only two weeks ago, but the disappearance stymied local officials. It was enough time for Ted and Ned to burglarize the business and off-load 185 pounds on the way back home to Miami.
After the murder and the missing person, the press started to call the tragedies, “The Coast to Coast Crime Spree.” The Othellos called it business. Paul Swanson, the pizza restaurant owner, was now a landmark on the bottom of the northern part of Lake Okeechobee.
“Be sure not to step in the blood Ned.”
“I got it…I got it. Drive the truck to the door and then I’ll turn off the office light.”
Ted stopped before he exited the office and said, “Don’t tell me what the fuck to do…I made the plans, remember?”
A submissive nod from Ned was reciprocated as he repositioned the body and waited for Ted to approach the door.
They lifted the tarp and placed Jorge’s small body into the back of the truck, just as planned.
They turned off the truck lights for a brief moment, exited the lot, to leave for a northbound drive. On a road known as “Bloody 27” because of its many accidents, the Othellos drove on the route toward Lake Okeechobee.
An hour outside the city limits of Broward County and into the darkness of the road surrounded by the Everglades, the Othello brothers took a break from Ted’s plan and entertained a brief dialogue about their fast future. For their return on investment in what they stole and who they killed, they shared an omnipotent moment for their rations of richness.
They pulled off Route 27 to a deserted path with their lights off next to an area in the Everglades…
Jorge Cantor, age 59, would be mandated by murder into an early retirement in the Everglades. He would not join the pizza owner in the lake north of him, nor would he meet his maker in a lot, but he would, in due time, join Mr. Swanson and Mrs. Brody in the obituary sections of their respective hometown newspapers.