Randi Gorenberg, 52, was starting her day just like she did most others.
She turned on the television and watched “The Today Show” on NBC. It was March 23, 2007, and the show was featuring a performance by the musician John Legend.
Randi loved it and told her son, Daniel, she wanted to buy Legend’s CD when she went to the mall later that day.
And she did.
Randi got to the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, Florida, about noon. She bought some shorts from Old Navy, then the John Legend album.
About an hour after she arrived, surveillance footage showed her leaving the mall and heading toward her new, black Mercedes SUV parked in the lot by the Sears.
It was the last time she was seen alive.
Not long after, Randi Gorenberg became the first of at least five victims of kidnappings from Town Center mall in 2007, and the first of three who ended up dead.
Randi was born in 1955 in Brooklyn as Randi Malitz.
She grew up there with her brother, Jerry Malitz, who said it was a time of innocent fun on the streets of the big city.
Randi met Stewart Gorenberg at a young age. The two married around 1979.
Steward was a chiropractor and decided to move his practice — and his family — to Boca Raton, Florida. They had two children in the 1980s. First a son, Daniel, then a daughter, Sarie.
The Gorenbergs lived in a home in the upscale community of Boniello Acres.
Jerry Malitz said his sister Randi was unpretentious and committed to her kids and volunteering in the community.
Years after Randi’s father passed away, her mother, Idey Elias, remarried and moved to Florida. Randi and Idey grew even closer.
Her brother, Jerry, described their relationship as “almost a big sister kind of thing.”
When Randi and her mom weren’t together, they were talking on the phone. Thursday night, March 22, 2007, was no different. It was the last time Idey spoke to her daughter.
Just before 2 p.m. on March 23, people are enjoying a beautiful, early spring day in Gov. Lawton Chiles Memorial Park, about five miles northwest of Boca Raton.
It’s in a lush, suburban neighborhood surrounded by lakes and golf courses.
As a dark Mercedes SUV rolls up the long driveway at the entrance to the park, gunshots ring out.
Witnesses in the park turn toward the sound and see a woman being pushed out of the Mercedes before it speeds off, out of the park.
Randi Gorenberg, the 52-year-old mother of two, had been shot in the head at point-blank range.
Although there were no witnesses at the mall, police say Randi was most likely kidnapped from the parking lot there and driven in the Mercedes along a road by the park until Randi apparently tried to break free.
“We believe she was attempting to jump out of the vehicle and could have caused the person … to just shoot her,” said Detective William Springer, who is part of the investigation into the murder.
Idey Elias had spent March 23, 2007, at a retirement home in Boca Raton, Florida, where she volunteers as a chaplain. She counsels residents and gives sermons.
There was a woman at the home whose daughter was up in New York and was dying. She was going to be taken off a machine, and her mother was distraught that she couldn’t be there.
Idey helped the woman to cope through the situation. It was more personal for her because Idey, too, had a grown daughter, Randi Gorenberg.
By the time she got home, Idey was exhausted. She turned on the 5 p.m. news and watched a report about a woman’s killing at a civic center not far from Idey’s home.
She said she looked at the image of the covered body and thought, “Oh my God, some family is going to be so upset tonight.”
But not long later, Idey’s family broke the crushing news. The slain woman at the civic center was her daughter.
Searching for leads
Just minutes after Randi’s body was pushed out of her Mercedes, the SUV is seen just a couple of miles away.
A security camera at a Home Depot captured the vehicle entering the parking lot, where it would be found abandoned. No witnesses saw anybody leaving the SUV.
The only evidence found in Randi’s car was a bullet casing. But police also discovered that some of Randi’s belongings were missing, including her shoes, purse and cellphone.
Early in the investigation, police began to focus on Randi’s husband, Stewart Gorenberg, and her son, Daniel, as well.
Friends gathering at the Gorenberg house for a shiva were shocked when police showed up. Guests were told to leave. The family lawyer called it a “raid” on the house.
And over the next year, Stewart and Daniel Gorenberg were both arrested on separate charges. Stewart was brought up on charges of insurance fraud related to practice as a chiropractor. Those charges later were dropped, and he was never convicted of anything.
Randi’s son, Daniel, faced fraud charges related to prescription drugs.
He struck an agreement to settle the case. After Daniel completed probation, the charges were dismissed.
But, their lawyer said, because the father and son didn’t have anything to do with the killing, the investigators’ efforts went nowhere.
In August of 2007, another woman was kidnapped from the same mall. And in that case, she had a 2-year-old son with her.
The two victims were driven to an ATM and forced at gunpoint to withdraw money. Then they were bound with zip ties and handcuffs and driven around on an hourlong ordeal.
Eventually they were returned to the mall and released — terrorized but unharmed.
Less than four months later, it happened again. Another mother and her 7-year-old daughter had been shopping at the mall. They were captured by security camera leaving the same exit Randi Gorenberg was seen leaving in March.
They were bound with zip ties and handcuffs and forced to withdraw money from an ATM.
But this time, the victims were killed. Nancy Bochicchio and her daughter, Joey, were found shot in their heads in the back of their SUV in the mall lot.
The idea that all three crimes could be the work of the same person terrified the community. And it drew national attention.
The television show “America’s Most Wanted” took the crew and host John Walsh to Boca Raton to shoot an episode.
But despite the attention, the investigations of the August and December attacks were hitting some dead ends. The Randi Gorenberg case had some leads, but they weren’t panning out, either.
Another lead developed when a jailhouse informant came forward to say he overheard members of a gang claiming to be responsible for Randi Gorenberg’s murder.
The informant said he learned the gunman was a man named Michael Barrera.
Barrera, then 33, was a fugitive who traveled between Mexico and South Florida. Police said a relative of Barrera’s owned a white Chrysler 300 — the same kind of car seen following Randi Gorenberg’s Mercedes SUV into the Home Depot parking lot after her murder.
Barrera was also wanted in a string of crimes. But investigators could come up with no definitive proof that he was connected to the Gorenberg murder.
There were similarities in the three kidnappings from the Boca mall in 2007. There also were differences – some can be explained and some can’t.
All the victims drove SUVs with dark windows. All were parked in the mall lot.
In two of the kidnappings, the victims were forced to drive to an ATM, withdraw money from their accounts, and return to the mall. Both attacks involved a woman and a young child. The victims were driven back to the mall lot. But not so in the case of Randi Gorenberg, who was alone and was shot and pushed from the SUV a few miles from the mall.
Were all of the cases motivated by money? Were they armed robberies in which two went bad and ended in murder?
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The August and December attacks were carried out by the same person, police suspect. But was it also the same person who killed Randi Gorenberg?
There are few answers. And in the 10 years since that horrifying year in Boca Raton, Florida, there has been no justice for the victims and their families.
Have information about the Randi Gorenberg case?
The authorities ask anyone with information about the Randi Gorenberg killing to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-8477.
About Felonious Florida
The Boca Mall Murders was reported by Juan Ortega 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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