Employee Arrested After Retired Doctor, Wife Found Murdered in Exclusive Tampa Subdivision

By ABC News

Jan 10, 2012 4:04pm
ht debbie hector riviera wy 120110 wblog Employee Arrested After Retired Doctor, Wife Found Murdered in Exclusive Tampa Subdivision

(Tampa Bay Magazine)

ABC News’ Robin Reese reports:

A family employee is under arrest in the shooting deaths of a retired doctor and his wife at their home in an exclusive gated community in Tampa, Fla., after police found the apparent murder weapon in the couple’s home.

Julian Ospina Florez, 31, of Tampa, was employed as a driver and assistant for Debra Rivera, 55, who was found shot dead Monday night along with her husband, retired doctor Hector Rivera, 76, Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee said late Tuesday night.

Police planned to charge Florez with two counts of first-degree murder, The Associated Press reported.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies responded to a number of calls of gunshots fired just before 8 p.m. Monday in the Avila subdivision. Hector Rivera’s body was found outside the house in the driveway and his wife’s body was found inside the home in a bathroom, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Debra Rivera worked from home selling jewelry and accessories. Gee said the killings were planned in order to steal her merchandise, according to ABC Action News in Tampa.

The investigation was expected to be a lengthy process, with deputies searching the 11,000-square-foot home, as well as going door to door through the neighborhood and searching a pond behind the Rivera home, trying to determine what happened, Carter said before the arrest was made.

“We are also checking the guard log, and asking anyone within the Avila community with a security camera facing the street to review those and let us know if there is anything that might be helpful,” she said.

The couple had a son together and Hector Rivera had three children from a previous marriage, according to a family member.

Gee said before the arrest that he did not believe it was a random crime, and it was a “possibility” they were targeted.  It appeared at the time that nothing of value was taken from the home.

The sheriff’s department confirmed that the home was burglarized in January, but did not provide any details about the incident.

Neighbors in the Avila neighborhood, where homes reportedly sell for $1.2 to $25 million, were stunned that a murder could happen in their community that is known for being very safe.

“I’m scared to death,” Angie Castellano, an Avila resident, told the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re supposed to have exclusive security.”

Security at the community, which is protected by 8-foot walls and surveillance cameras, requires residents to have a bar code on their cars and for visitors to go through security checks.

“It’s a gated community with tight security,” Carter told the Times. “You’d have to have access — or know somebody — to get in.”

Former and current residents of the community reportedly include former major league baseball player and manager Lou Piniella, New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy.

ABC News’ Michael S. James and Dean Schabner contributed to this report.

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