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Son Of Murdered Miami Businessman Knew His Stepmother Was Responsible. Now Police Agree
"I told them in 1961 that my stepmother was the shooter and they said, 'Oh no, she is not the shooter,'" said Richard DiMare, the son of slain Joseph DiMare. Now, Miami-Dade police have determined that his stepmother was "the person responsible" for the businessman's death.
The wife of a respected Miami businessman who reported his murder, running barefoot from the scene to a nearby gas station, has been found "responsible" in his killing 62 years after the fact — thanks, in part, to the cooperation of her stepson who always suspected her.
The body of 53-year-old Joseph DiMare was found in the passenger seat of his Cadillac Fleetwood on the evening of March 24, 1961, with four gunshot wounds to the head.
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His 33-year-old second wife, Frances DiMare, told police that two armed men had hopped into their car while they were stopped at a traffic light on their way to Mike Gordon's Restaurant around 7:15 p.m. After forcing her to drive into a vacant lot at gunpoint, she said, the men pistol whipped her until she blacked out. When she regained consciousness, her husband was dead, she claimed.
Earlier this month, Miami-Dade police announced that Frances was "the person responsible" for DiMare's death.
DiMare's son Richard DiMare, 21 at the time of his father's death, first suspected Frances of the murder on the day of the funeral. Despite her story, his stepmother appeared entirely unharmed.
"On the day of the funeral, her hair was being done at our home," Richard, then a business student at the University of Miami, told People. "And I stood over her, and I looked in her face and there were no injuries whatsoever."
Right after the funeral, Richard said, the woman gave him and his three siblings — including his 9-year-old sister — 24 hours to leave their family home. The children, whose mother had passed away five years earlier, were devastated.
"We lost our mother in 1956," he said. "What children lose one parent and then five years later the other parent is dead."
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But despite his suspicions, Richard's stepmother was never considered a suspect until after her death at 82 in 2006.
"I told them in 1961 that my stepmother was the shooter and they said, 'Oh no, she is not the shooter," Richard told NBC Miami.
Moreover, police found no scrapings on Frances' feet despite her story of frantically running barefoot through bushes, Miami-Dade homicide detective Jonathan Grossman told the outlet, and her shoes were "neatly placed" next to the couple's car.
DiMare, a widower with four children, married bank teller Frances after losing Richard's mother to cancer several years earlier. A week before he was shot, the businessman traveled to family in Boston, telling them that he intended to initiate divorce proceedings.
Attorney Paul Novack told People that police suspect DiMare informed Frances of his intentions on the day of or night before he died.
He had stipulated in a new version of his will that Frances, who was living on and off in Ohio, had to be living in their shared Florida home at the time of his death to collect her inheritance.
Now that they have identified Frances as DiMare's killer, police attribute her motive to this disagreement over her inheritance. After her husband's death, she inherited $250,000 — about one-third of DiMare's estate, Novack said, and "a substantial amount of money she wouldn't have inherited in prison." Later, the attorney said, Frances would go on to marry her probate lawyer.
"There were concerns she had that she would be out of the will if she wasn't living in the marital home. We know that she wasn't in Miami prior to the homicide and when she found out about the will, she did travel back," Grossman told NBC Miami.
"This was all about the money," Richard told the outlet.
Detectives determined that DiMare had been shot in the couple's garage before they left for dinner, according to a statement released earlier this month and reviewed by NBC News. A trail of blood led from the couple's home to the empty lot, the Miami-Dade Police department wrote, and a ballistics analysis determined that the fatal shots had been fired from the passenger seat.
In 1961, investigators recovered two casings in the back of the Cadillac. Thanks to Richard's cooperation, they were able to trace them back to a gun that DiMare had purchased for Frances several months earlier, finally making a break in the long-cold case.
"Richard says to the detectives, 'Hey listen, I took my father's gun [months before] and I shot it into the pool and I have the casing,'" Grossman told People. "Over the course of the years, the firearms unit was able to determine that the casings from the car were in fact fired from the same gun that Richard fired into the pool, which was his father's gun."
Although she was investigated, Novack said, Frances was treated delicately by law enforcement. In part, this was due to an unnamed, high ranking government official that began "pushing police to leave Frances alone."
"She's a victim, she's a widow, she's upset. Don't even think about her being a suspect," he said. "You have political power pushing against what seems to be a tide of evidence."
Richard, now 81, called Novack his "family's guardian angel" for pushing for a resolution in the cold case, and called the long overdue findings "a blessing."
He said it was "hurtful" that his long-dead stepmother would never face charges: "All the evidence was right there. This should never had gone on this long."
"I'm relieved on one side, but the pain and suffering my family suffered, I don't know that's ever going to go away," Richard told NBC Miami.