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Archive for the ‘SHOOTINGS’ Category

“He seemed to believe his wife was poisoning him,” said Michael O’Brien, 46, who regularly walked his dog with Rodriguez in Horton Park. “He kept repeating himself. He wasn’t eating at home. He just wasn’t the same guy we all knew.”

Everyone who knew Rodriguez knew him as “Pappy,” the neighborhood watchdog who patrolled his street on foot and picked up the newspapers left in snowbirds’ driveways in the summer months when their homes were vacant.

“He was the guy you trusted with everything. He would always walk up and down the street checking on peoples’ homes,” said Jeff Canevari, a friend and neighbor of Rodriguez for two and a half years.

Rodriguez spent his days as an auxiliary officer for the Cape Coral Police Department’s volunteer Marine Unit. A private boat docked behind his home at 2317 S.E. 27th St. in the quiet neighborhood of Gulf Coast Estates still bore a placard declaring his former status with the CCPD.

Rodriguez had an extensive gun collection and was usually armed, according to neighbors and friends.

“He always had a gun with him,” said O’Brien. “For as long as I knew him, he always carried a gun.”

During a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon, hours before he was arrested and charged with second-degree homicide, Rodriguez said he’d spoken with detectives and they had agreed to let him put his 75-year-old wife, Wanda Rodriguez, to rest before he was taken into custody. Her funeral was scheduled Friday morning, he said.

Joseph Rodriguez said he was “confused” and declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.

He told police that he’d called 911 after finding his wife’s body on the morning of June 27, according to an incident report. Wanda Rodriguez was lying on her bedroom floor. She had been shot in the head, a gun was lying near her body and there was a large amount of blood, authorities said.

Joseph Rodriguez reportedly said he last checked on his wife at about 2 a.m. and she was sleeping. Detectives believed the death was “suspicious in nature” and notified the forensics unit, according to the report.

Authorities determined Joseph Rodriguez was responsible for his wife’s death six days after the incident. Cape investigators made the arrest after reviewing forensic evidence with the Lee County Medical Examiner’s Office and State Attorney’s Office, said police spokeswoman Dyan Lee.

Joseph Rodriguez began acting strangely shortly after the death of his dog, “Max,” who succumbed to throat cancer about a month ago, said O’Brien.

“He was a really decent old man, just recently he’s gone downhill mentally,” he said, “but losing that dog was a big hurt on him.”

Max’s death also took its toll on Wanda Rodriguez, who walked the dog every evening with her husband, said Canevari.

“She used to always be out walking the dog,” he said, “but when the dog died we didn’t see her as much. They were both nuts about that dog.”

Canevari said his wife and two children wept as they watched police lead Joseph Rodriguez away from his home in handcuffs.

“We all loved him,” he said. “It’s disgusting. Who knows what goes on inside somebody’s head?”

A judge denied Joseph Rodriguez bond and he remains in the Lee County Jail.

Wanda Rodriguez’s death marks the sixth homicide in Cape Coral this year, tying the highest number in recorded city history. There have been three shooting deaths, two fatal beatings and one stabbing.

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A Cape Coral octogenarian fired a bullet into his wife’s temple as she lay in bed, then moved her body after the killing, stashed bloody pieces of evidence and staged the crime scene before dialing 911, according to an arrest report.

Joseph Rodriguez, 82, denied tampering with evidence. He said his wife was fine when she went to bed June 26 and he found her dead in a pool of blood the next morning, according to officer Thomas Rall’s report.

While Rodriquez told authorities his wife, Wanda Rodriguez, 75, committed suicide, forensic evidence found inside the elderly couple’s Cape Coral home at 2317 S.E. 27th St. pointed to foul play. He was arrested six days after the incident and charged with second-degree homicide.

Officers and paramedics discovered Wanda Rodriguez lying on her back on her bedroom floor after Joseph Rodriguez called emergency dispatchers at about 7:30 a.m. Blood stains on the top of her bed and bloody prints on her ankles indicated her body had been moved, according to the report.

“The victim was found on the floor and it is clear the victim was moved from the original location on the bed to the floor,” wrote Rall. “Blood evidence shows the body had been moved several times.”

Dr. Barbara Wolfe of the Lee County Medical Examiner’s Office determined during an autopsy that Wanda Rodriguez’s injuries would have instantly rendered her immobile, and emergency personnel on scene said they had not moved the body, according to the report.

The medical examiner concluded suicide was an impossibility and ruled the case a homicide, the report states.

Rall said he found a gun that had been wiped down with a bloody cloth lying under the bed near Wanda Rodriguez’s body and a dried blood smear left by a glove on the night stand.

Joseph Rodriguez reportedly said he’d given his wife the gun four years ago, when they began sleeping in different rooms at opposite ends of their home. Wanda Rodriguez’s daughter and friends later told authorities she never owned a gun and intentionally avoided them.

A glass of water and Wanda Rogriguez’s eyeglasses had been placed on top of the dried blood on her night stand, and Joseph Rodriguez’s fingerprints were lifted from the glass, according to the report.

“No blood was found on the glass at all indicating that the glass had been put on the table after removal of the gloves as an act of staging,” wrote Rall. “Dried blood was found under the glass.”

Investigators also found a pair of cloth gloves soaking in a can of bleach under a workbench in the garage. Rall said one of the gloves later tested positive for blood. A pair of blood-spattered shorts was also tucked away in the bottom of a garage cabinet and there was a blood smear on the front bumper of Wanda Rodriguez’s car, which was parked next to the workbench, according to Rall.

Joseph Rodriguez told Rall he never heard a gunshot during the night and that two air conditioning units at his home may have drowned out the sound.

When asked about the glass of water and eyeglasses placed on the dried blood on his wife’s nightstand, he denied touching anything.

“A short time later, Mr. Rodriguez requested an attorney and all questioning ceased,” wrote Rall. “Mr. Rodriguez then stood up to exit the interview and stated that, ‘I know you know I did it.’”

A judge denied Joseph Rodriguez bond and he remains in the Lee County Jail. His attorney did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

 

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