Pablo Ibar had been arrested in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and charged in a brutal home invasion robbery.
But he’s sitting in an interrogation room in front of a detective from miles north in Broward County being questioned about a much more serious crime.
Detective Paul Manzella is investigating the brutal home invasion and triple murder that happened three weeks earlier in Miramar, Florida — the Casey’s Nickelodeon Murders that left Butch Casey, Sharon Anderson and Marie Rogers dead.
A photograph made from a surveillance video from Butch’s house showed the face of one of the Miramar killers. Manzella thinks it looks like Pablo Ibar.
Detective Manzella showed Ibar the image from the security camera and asked “Where did I get this photo of you, Pablo?”
Ibar looked at it for a moment, then laid his head down on the table, Manzella later said in an interview on MSNBC.
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Zeroing in on Ibar
The home invasion in Miami-Dade County was brutal. Three men had burst into a home, demanding money and terrorizing the residents.
One of the intruders threatened a pregnant woman’s unborn baby. They shot and killed the family dog.
A man hiding in a bathroom was able to call 9-1-1, and the three suspects fled into the neighborhood when police arrived.
But they were eventually captured. Ibar and two other men, Alex Hernandez and Alberto Rincon, were arrested.
When Detective Manzella from Miramar, Florida, finished questioning Ibar, he began collecting evidence — starting with bloody shoe prints found in Butch Casey’s home.
Detective Manzella collected the shoes worn by Ibar and the other two men in custody in Miami-Dade, hoping for a match.
He also took Polaroid photos of the three to bring to an eyewitness who saw two men leaving the crime scene in Butch Casey’s Mercedes on the morning of the murders.
The witness was Gary Foy, Casey’s neighbor. Foy was shown photo lineups of the men arrested in Miami.
He narrowed the lineup down to Ibar, but detectives arranged a live photo lineup to be certain. Foy immediately identified Pablo Ibar as the man he saw riding in the passenger seat of Casey’s car.
With a positive identification in hand, detectives pressed the investigation further.
Test results came back from the shoes worn by the Miami-Dade home invasion suspects. The shoes worn by Alberto Rincon matched a bloody print left on Casey’s floor.
Rincon told police he borrowed the shoes from Pablo Ibar.
Then they examined a t-shirt that was found outside the front door of Butch Casey’s home that the killers fled through.
Casey’s blood was on the shirt, but no other forensic evidence. There was something, however.
A logo on the t-shirt belonged to a company called Consolidated Electric Supply. That company had a business relationship with the employer of Pablo Ibar’s mother.
Detectives began digging into Pablo Ibar’s circle of friends. They questioned one of Ibar’s former roommates, John Klimeczko, who blew the case wide open.
First, Klimeczko positively identified Ibar as the face captured on the Casey security camera.
Then he looked at the second man in the video — he was wearing a ballcap and sunglasses to conceal his identity. But Klimeczko told investigators the second man was Seth Penalver.
Klimeczko also gave police more information about the flop house where he had once lived with Pablo Ibar and Alex Hernandez.
The house was on Lee Street in Hollywood, Florida, and became a focus of the investigation.
Klimeczko verified to police that the residents of the house often exchanged clothing if they fit — which police thought gave credibility to Albero Rincon’s claim that he had borrowed Ibar’s shoes, the ones that matched the bloody footprint in the Casey house.
And he said that on the morning of the murders he saw Ibar and Penalver come home “acting real funny and stuff.” He said he saw them take a Tech 9 machine gun from under a bed and leave the house with it.
Then later, he said, Ibar and Penalver returned in a new, dark-colored car.
When Klimeczko identified the second man in the video as Seth Penalver, he incorrectly called him Seth Pentlover. He even spelled it out. That mistake would haunt the prosecution of Penalver years later.
But detectives figured out the error and announced that Penalver was a person of interest in the Casey’s Nickelodeon Murders.
The story was splashed across newspapers and television news shows — pressuring Penalver to turn himself in on Aug. 5, 1994.
Penalver’s girlfriend, Melissa Monroe, told police the man in the Casey security video looked like Panalver. She also told them that she and her friends ran into Panalver and Pablo Ibar at Casey’s Nickelodeon on the same fateful night that Butch Casey met Marie Rogers and Sharon Anderson, hours before their murders.
The first trial
Investigators believed they put together a solid case, and presented it to a grand jury.
They had the surveillance video. They had what seemed like a parade of witnesses that identified Ibar and Penalver on the video tape and placed them both at Casey’s Nickelodeon hours before the murders.
They had a witness who saw the two with the same kind of machine gun used in the killings. They had Casey’s neighbor identifying Ibar in the passenger seat of Casey’s own car, leaving the scene of the crime.
On Aug. 31, 1994, Pablo Ibar and Seth Penalver were indicted on charges of first-degree murder.
But at trial, the case started to unravel.
There was no physical evidence — no fingerprints, no DNA to link Ibar or Penalver to the crime.
Many of the witnesses started to change their stories. Others were discredited. Klimeczko even claimed he had no memory of his statements to police, even though he acknowledged the recordings were his voice.
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And the Miami-Dade home invasion that was so similar to the deadly invasion of Butch Casey’s home? Jurors never even heard about it out of fear by the prosecution that it could be used against them during an appeal.
The trial lasted nine months as defense lawyers worked to exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
The jury deliberated for more than 25 hours, struggling to reach a verdict. They couldn’t.
On January 25, 1998, three years and six months after the Casey’s Nickelodeon Murders, the trial of Pablo Ibar and Seth Penelver ended with a hung jury.
But that was just the start of the decades-long legal drama.
About Felonious Florida
The Casey’s Nickelodeon Murders was reported by Lisa Arthur based on interviews, police reports, court records and media coverage. It was edited by David Schutz and Randy Roguski. Felonious Florida is produced by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and presented in audio form in partnership with Wondery. The series is produced by Schutz, Arthur and Juan Ortega. Web design and production by Yiran Zhu. The Felonious Florida team includes Randy Roguski, Danny Sanchez, Sean Pitts, Cindy Choi, David Selig and Dana Banker.
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