Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Florida executes former police officer who became a serial killer

STARKE — Twenty-four years after he urged a jury to give him a "glorious" death, Miami serial killer Manuel Pardo shut his eyes, yawned and fell into an eternal slumber, but not before delivering one last defiant homage to his military past.

"Airborne forever," the former U.S. Navy veteran said, adding an ode to his daughter. "I love you, Michi baby."

And so the former Sweetwater cop, who shot and killed nine people during a series of robberies in 1986, was executed, pronounced dead at 7:47 p.m. Tuesday at Florida State Prison.

Before Pardo was strapped to the gurney, he issued a neat handwritten letter, accepting responsibility for killing six men — but no women, he insisted — as part of his "war against men who were trafficking in narcotics."

But the nephew of Fara Quintero, one of three women slain by Pardo, insisted he was "no soldier."

"But rather a disturbed man whose hatred for mankind knew no mercy," nephew Frank Judd told reporters afterward. He called the execution "mild justice" for killing his aunt.

Pardo's death by lethal injection caps the bloody and bizarre saga of a man who joined the military and law enforcement before he embarked on a killing rampage in 1986 that left nine dead. Pardo's demise is also a reminder of a decade in Miami-Dade marred by scandals of corrupt cops who robbed, killed and were arrested for crossing the line into the criminal world.

His execution was the third in Florida this year. In October, Miami's John Errol Ferguson — a killer of eight — was set to be executed but received a last-minute stay as a federal appeals court considers claims that he is mentally ill.

As for Pardo, the native New Yorker joined the U.S. Navy in the 1970s, earning several honors before joining the Florida Highway Patrol. He joined Sweetwater police, but was later fired.

He soon after started killing, and most of his victims were drug dealers.

Faced with overwhelming physical evidence, Pardo went to trial in 1988, pleading insanity. At sentencing, he pleaded for the death penalty.

"I'm not a criminal. I'm a soldier. As a soldier, I ask to be given the death penalty. I accomplished my mission," he told jurors.

Even after his conviction, Pardo maintained in numerous press interviews that he did more social good than he could have done as a policeman.

On Tuesday, his final statement was equally as brash. In a one-page letter, he made no apology to the families of his victims. Then, he boasted of his pride in seeing the New York Giants and the Yankees win so many championships. Pardo also praised Spain for winning a World Cup title in soccer, and urged the country to keep the tradition of bullfighting.

In the last hours of his life, Pardo visited with eight relatives and friends and had a Cuban-style last meal.

Comments
Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have lost power at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said.About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. Duke Energy is working to restore power, according to the agency. Drivers ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Published: 05/20/18
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18
Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

LARGO — Police are searching for a person of interest in the January disappearance of a 24-year-old man.The missing man is Timothy Patrick Cullen, 24, who Largo police said was last seen Jan. 22 at his home in the 500 block of Seventh Ave NE. His veh...
Published: 05/18/18
Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

BAYONET POINT — A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated child abuse and accused of fracturing an infant’s skull, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Brandon Scott Madrishin told deputies that a 3-month-old infant ...
Published: 05/18/18
20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

When her school bus pulled up to her house that day, Ashley Bell spotted her mom’s car in the driveway and wondered why it was there. A 14-year-old latchkey kid, Bell usually got home before her mother Carolyn arrived from her job as a nurse at St. J...
Published: 05/18/18