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Defending his wife cost Joe Wido his life

PORT RICHEY — Even at 82, Joe Wido didn't back down.

When a masked intruder entered his bedroom at 2 a.m. Thursday, authorities said, Wido got out of bed to protect his wife, 79-year-old Roberta.

"I can take you on," Wido reportedly told the man.

He died trying.

The intruder killed Joe Wido and tied up Roberta Wido in the couple's bed. He left about 30 minutes later.

A neighbor found Roberta Wido 10 hours later after hearing her cries for help. She was treated for injuries from being bound, and is now staying with relatives.

"This is not your typical home invasion," Sheriff Bob White said in a press conference Friday. "This crime is unique to Pasco County."

The intruder chose the home at 10519 Quimby Drive at random, authorities said.

"The suspect may have tried to enter some other houses on the street" before getting into the Wido home, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

Doll would not say whether the intruder took anything from the home, in the Timber Oaks neighborhood for senior citizens.

Relatives and neighbors remembered Joe Wido, a retired meat supplier from New Jersey, for his kindness and generosity.

Not long after Joe Mazorra moved into a home on Quimby Drive 10 years ago, he says, Wido stopped by with a tiny palm plant.

Mazorra placed the plant in his front yard, where it's now a large, round bush with dozens of wide leaves.

They found they had something in common — both had served in the U.S. Army. Wido won a Bronze Star while fighting in Europe during World War II, and Mazorra served in Korea.

They didn't talk about combat often. But they played golf together for years and attended dances with their wives at the Timber Oaks clubhouse.

"He was just very kind," Mazorra said.

Doreen Kalbus, who lives in the same cul-de-sac as the Widos, remembers him sitting on his porch and calling to her as she walked her daily laps around the neighborhood.

"He used to joke, 'How many times did you walk around today?' " Kalbus said. "He was just someone you'd want to have on your street."

Wido was 91-year-old Helen Pardus' last living sibling. Pardus, who lives in the nearby Jasmine Lakes neighborhood, said her brother's death is just starting to sink in.

"It's a big loss," she said. "And I still can't believe it happened."

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6244.

>>Fast Facts

About the killer

Authorities described the intruder wanted in Thursday's slaying as a white man, 35 to 40 years old, 5-foot-9, about 170 pounds, with dark hair, dark eyes and dark eyebrows. The man was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans, red cloth gloves and a bandanna or rag over his nose and mouth. He was also wearing a white ball cap with the number 20 on it. Based on evidence at the scene, investigators think he may be left-handed. If you have any information, call the Sheriff's Office toll-free at 1-800-854-2862.

Defending his wife cost Joe Wido his life 08/29/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 31, 2008 6:04pm]
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