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Brian Ricardo BETHELL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: January-February 2006
Date of arrest: February 25, 2006
Date of birth: 1965
Victims profile: Angel Pedro Medina, 41 / Albert Avenaim, 63 / Frederick Gunther, 76
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Broward County, Florida, USA
Status: Bethell is being held without bond at the Broward County jail. Sentence unknown

Man Accused Of Shooting 3 To Finance Shopping Spree Arraigned

Police Records Allege Bethell Robbed 2 Doctors Before Shootings Occurred

Monday, April 3, 2006

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla.The man accused of fatally shooting three men on consecutive Friday nights in February to go on a shopping spree will be formally charged later this week with the robbery of two more victims, police said.

Police records allege that two weeks before the fatal shootings, Brian Bethell robbed two doctors from New York at gunpoint in Hollywood. Bethell allegedly bumped his car with theirs and stole their wallet and jewelry when they got out to inspect the damage.

At his arraignment Monday, Bethell pleaded not guilty to shooting Angel Medina, the first of the three men Bethell is accused of murdering.

Investigators said Bethell confessed to killing Frederick Gunther, Albert Avenaim and Medina shortly after he was arrested at his Margate home.

Gunther, 76, was fatally shot in the chest as he got out of his car to pick up his girlfriend, Angeline Hartwick, from her Plantation home.

Police said it was one in a string of Friday night shootings by Bethell that began Feb. 3, when Medina, 41, was shot and killed.

Detectives said ballistics tests show that the bullet used to shoot Medina was fired from the same gun that was used in Avenaim's shooting.

Avenaim, 63, was shot behind Padrino's Cuban Cuisine on the night of Feb. 10 after dropping his wife off in the front of the restaurant and driving around back to look for a parking spot, police said.

Investigators said shortly after Gunther's death, Bethell used Gunther's credit card at the same Wal-Mart where Avenaim's credit card was used the night he was shot. A store employee recognized the couple, followed them to their car and reported their license plate, police said.

His girlfriend, Natasha Edwards, was also arrested and charged with accessory to armed robbery, credit card fraud and grand theft.

Bethell is being held without bond at the Broward County jail.


Mechanic confesses to three murders

February 26, 2006

Brian Bethell was desperate.

Broke and facing eviction from a rented four-bedroom Margate home, he took to extreme measures to keep himself, his girlfriend and her two children afloat.

Police said the car mechanic started a killing spree.

A return trip to a Coral Springs Wal-Mart with stolen credit cards tripped him up.

Bethell, 40, confessed Saturday to killing three people in a span of three weeks -- a good Samaritan who brought food and lottery tickets for the homeless, an Aventura grandfather who had taken his wife to a Miami show and, on Friday night, a man who had stopped off in Plantation Gardens to pick up a friend to take her ballroom dancing.

All of the killings occurred on a Friday.

Now, some investigators worry they may have a serial killer on their hands.

''He's done three in the last three weeks for certain,'' said John Coffey, special agent supervisor of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "We're looking for others.''

So far, Bethell, a mechanic who neighbors described as ''humble, polite and pretty decent guy'' is only charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Police say Bethell shot and killed Frederick Gunther, 76, of Pompano Beach around 7 p.m. Friday as he walked to a Plantation condo.

The shooter took his wallet and cell phone.

Bethell and his girlfriend, Natasha Rishone Edwards, 20, then went shopping with Gunther's stolen credit card at a Coral Springs Wal-Mart Supercenter -- the same place police say a man and woman showed up with Albert Avenaim's credit card on Feb. 10, hours after he was killed in Hallandale Beach as he tried to park his Silver BMW convertible in a parking lot at Padrino's restaurant, investigators said.

In that shooting, witnesses told police a driver in a black car suddenly blocked Avenaim, 63, in. The man got out, wrestled with Avenaim, shot him in the left rib cage and took off.

Avenaim's cellphone and wallet were stolen. The credit card later was used by a man to fuel up at a gas station and buy paper towels, clothes and soft drinks.

Investigators had released a grainy surveillance video from a Sunrise Wal-Mart on the same night showing a man and a woman entering and leaving the store where Avenaim's credit card also was used. The woman was pushing a shopping cart with two small children.

Investigators now say the pair were Bethell and Edwards.

On Friday morning, Avenaim's anguished family held a press conference at the Coral Springs Wal-Mart, offering a $10,000 reward leading to their loved one's killer. They left Crime Stoppers posters all around.

Sharp-eyed workers

Late Friday evening, alert Wal-Mart employees noticed a man and woman who police later identified as Bethell and Edward entering the store.

Store clerks remember a calm Bethell, dressed in shorts, whose hair looked unkempt.

He rolled a packed shopping card to the checkout, with more than $100 of food, can goods and baby clothing and said hello.

He paid by credit card.

When the couple left, one store employee followed the pair out to a black Hyundai Sonata. She took off her Wal-Mart jacket and fiddled around with a car parked next to theirs while noting the couple's Florida license tag number. She called police from her cell phone.

FDLE and police officers rushed over, but missed them by minutes.

Tracked license plate

They tracked the license plate to Bethell's address in Margate where he rents a house for $700 a month. By 10:30 p.m., FDLE had three murder confessions from Bethell and information on the gun used in the killings.

The third killing that Bethell confessed to was Angel Pedro Medina, 41, of Margate, on Feb. 3. Charges were expected to be filed, according to Fort Lauderdale Police.

Medina was shot multiple times during an attempted robbery in the 900 block of Powerline Road, just south of Sunrise Boulevard.

Authorities also took Edwards into custody, but say they don't believe she knew about the murders. She faces grand theft, fraud and accessory charges.

Records show Bethell, who filed for bankruptcy twice, has been arrested on drug charges in Broward. He also has a charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle in Leon County.

Now, investigators are looking into unsolved murder cases in other places where Bethell may have been.

One neighbor recalled seeing Bethel fixing a Cadillac and Oldsmobile until the wee hours of the night. Bethel worked as a mechanic at several shops including Brake World in Margate, another neighbor said.

He usually wore a mechanic's uniform -- light blue shirt and dark blue pants, said landlord Thomas Rogers, owner of the home Bethell lived in.

''He looked and smelled and dressed like a mechanic,'' Roger said.

Relief, anger

Family members were relieved and angry.

''We feel cheated by this,'' said Gordon Gunther, son of Frederick Gunther. ``Many of his family lived very long lives. His mother lived to 96.''

Gordon Gunther, 52, of Morgan Hill, Calif., said his father, who loved ballroom dancing, was picking up a female friend in Plantation when he was killed. Gunther was planning to fly to Las Vegas on Monday to meet up with five of his siblings.

Gunther, who worked as a night watchman until his death, moved to South Florida about five years ago.

On Saturday, Avenaim's sister-in-law, Colleen Avenaim cried as she listened to authorities detail events leading up to Bethell's arrest.

''This is a very bittersweet thing to hear,'' she said.


The Victims

Angel Pedro Medina, 41, lived in Margate. He had turned his life around after serving an eight-year prison term that ended on Aug. 24, 1992.

On Feb. 3, as he had done once a week for many years, Medina drove to a rough neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale to buy food, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets for homeless people who hang out there.

He was a frequent visitor to the 900 block of Northwest Ninth Avenue, a blighted strip of Powerline Road just south of Sunrise Boulevard.

He showed up with cash, as he always did, witnesses said.

Minutes later, at 9:37 p.m., he was dead, shot multiple times during an attempted robbery.

Albert Avenaim, 63, a retiree from Aventura, spoke five languages and his travels took him to China, Poland, Czechoslovakia and India. He had plans for a cruise and a trip to Africa.

On the night of his murder, Avenaim and wife Joan saw a show in Miami. He then dropped Joan off in front of Padrino's restaurant in Hallandale Beach so she could put their name on the waiting list. Avenaim had driven around the restaurant to park his car when he was robbed and killed.

Frederick Gunther, 76, of Pompano Beach, was the youngest of 12 children of Swiss parents. He has at least five surviving siblings. Frederick and his wife, Coralyn, were divorced. They had three children.

Gunther moved to South Florida five years ago from California, where he worked in advertising sales. In Florida, he was a night watchman. His favorite pastime was ballroom dancing.

He was known as a generous and helpful person who had a kind word for everyone.

He had driven to Plantation to pick up a friend and take her dancing He was robbed and killed in the parking lot of his friend's condo.




Brian Bethell



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