Toronto couple killed in Florida by asphyxiation; police seek multiple suspects

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A retired Canadian couple killed by asphyxiation in their Florida winter home had no enemies and likely didn’t know their killers, police said Wednesday of the “senseless” homicide that has left them mystified.

The medical examiner was able to determine the cause of death for Rochelle Wise, 66, and David Pichosky, 71, though police aren’t saying whether it was by hand or ligature. Investigators believe they are looking for multiple suspects, but haven’t been able to figure out any motive.

“As the details come out I believe the public will be shocked just to know how senseless this murder was,” said Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy.

“It angers me that someone came into this home and killed these two people who, (from) what we’ve been able to identify, they have no enemies. They were nice people. They were enjoying their retirement. They were enjoying their new marriage.”

The couple was married only about four years ago. They were almost always together, going to shows, going out to eat, going to temple and taking their family to the ice cream parlour when they visited, Flournoy said.

They were doting grandparents to their blended family and loved their new life together, family and friends said Wednesday at a press conference appealing for people to come forward with information.

“She’d worked hard her whole life and finally found love and was just starting to taste some of the benefits of hard work,” said Wise’s son Jamie.

“She’ll be missed on a level you can’t imagine by people she knew, by her family, by her friends, by her community. It’s unimaginable.”

Crime Stoppers USA is offering a $51,000 reward — most of it coming from an anonymous donor. Police have received less than 100 tips and though the force is dedicating all the resources it can to the case, they still need more information, said Flournoy, who appealed directly to people who may be involved but are “less culpable.”

“We just need that one break or that one piece to the puzzle so that we can fill it all in,” Flournoy said.

Police released video last month from a neighbour’s surveillance camera hoping to identify a woman seen walking to the rear of the couple’s home on Jan. 9 carrying an unidentified object then leaving without it. Flournoy said not many tips have come in about her yet.

Police will be posting flyers and billboards as part of the investigation, he said.

The bodies of Wise, a popular former day camp director and educator, and Pichosky were found Jan. 10 after they failed to show up for lunch with a neighbour. They were apparently last heard from around 8 a.m. on Jan. 9 when they had a video chat with a family member.

The day before they had been at the local Jewish temple then went to a Wal-Mart before returning home, police said.

Pearl Gladman, a friend of the couple, pleaded for anyone with information to call police.

“I miss her terribly. When the phone rings and it’s a long-distance ring I still think it’s her calling me from Florida just to chat,” Gladman said.

“Whatever anybody knows, just think if it was your family or if it was someone that you loved. Just help us get an end to this.”

Flournoy vowed that the culprits would be brought to justice.

“It may not be tomorrow, it may not be a month, but you know, I may be sitting home retired in 10 years, 15, 20 years, this case is going to be solved,” he said. “Trust me.”


Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.