Crack In 'Cold Justice' Case: Ex-Florida Gators Player Arrested For Girlfriend's Valentine's Day Murder

Heyzel Obondo, a mother of two, was found dead in her Fort Myers home. Three years later, her live-in boyfriend, Earl Antonio Joiner, has been charged with her murder.

By Gina Tron
Earl Joiner

Three years after a Florida mother was found dead inside her Fort Myers home on Valentine’s Day, there is renewed hope for justice. The victim's live-in boyfriend has been arrested for the killing.

Heyzel Obando was found dead in 2016, and the case went cold, but this week revealed a major break.

“We’ve just made our 43rd arrest,” Tonya Rider, a former Toledo Police Department detective and "Cold Justice" host, told Oxygen at CrimeCon 2019.

Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” worked closely on the case with the Fort Myers Police Department and the State Attorney's Office and their efforts paid off. Obando’s live-in boyfriend Earl Antonio Joiner, 33, was arrested on Saturday morning and charged with second-degree murder, police announced.

Joiner's arrest was the third to come in Fort Myers as a result of "Cold Justice." As Rider said at CrimeCon, it marks the 43rd arrest the show contributed to. Around 20 convictions have resulted from the show’s efforts, including the recent conviction of Robin Mendez, who bludgeoned his wife to death in 1982 at her credit union job in Wisconsin. Among some of the other more recent successes, “Cold Justice” was credited with breaking a cold case in Colorado which saw Jesse Hogue arrested for the 1994 murder of his ex-wife and for the arrest of Dustin Koelliker for the alleged killing of his girlfriend in Oklahoma in 2011.

Even though law enforcement said Obando’s death was suspicious from the start, it was only ruled a homicide two months after her body was found, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. Joiner, who played safety for the Florida Gators from 2004 to 2007, was arrested just one month after her death and charged with violation of probation.

He had been arrested twice for alleged domestic violence against Obando, both times in 2013, according to the Miami Herald. The pair had two children together, ages 3 and 6, who are now in the custody of Obando’s mother. She won permanent guardianship of them in 2017, according to the News-Press.

The News-Press reported the couple as married but the Miami Herald reported that no marriage record for them exists. They reportedly lived together at the time of the murder.

Police have not revealed the exact details of what led to Joiner’s arrest but they did mention working closely with “Cold Justice” and other law enforcement teams to break the case.

“The arrest of Joiner was the culmination of a multi-agency effort which dedicated itself to the investigation,” they wrote.

Joiner was previously convicted of driving without a license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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