Husband arrested in Belleair killing

Cataneo is seen on a store’s surveillance footage in December in Baton Rouge, La. His wife’s body was found Nov. 28 in Belleair.

Special to the Times

Cataneo is seen on a store’s surveillance footage in December in Baton Rouge, La. His wife’s body was found Nov. 28 in Belleair.

BELLEAIR — A man accused of killing his wife in wealthy Belleair, then hop-scotching across the country to evade capture was arrested Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Federal marshals arrested Ryan Michael Cataneo, 40, after he had checked in to the Wild Wild West, a small casino-hotel a few blocks off the Las Vegas strip, said Assistant Chief Deputy Marshal Javier Jimenez.

Jimenez would not say how marshals found Cataneo, except to call it "good old-fashioned detective work." He did not know how long Cataneo had been in town, or what he was doing there. But the Belleair flooring installer is far from the first murder defendant to visit Las Vegas.

"We find a lot of fugitives for some reason think they can hide here," Jimenez said. "They think because it's Sin City they can get lost. For some, it's just a last hurrah."

Cataneo and his wife, Deana, 39, met in high school, relatives said. Records show they were married in Key West in March.

Deana Cataneo owned a business that installed rubber floors for playgrounds, which the couple ran from their rented home near the Intracoastal Waterway in Belleair, one of Pinellas County's wealthiest towns. Belleair has a population of less than 5,000 and experiences little violent crime.

Deana Cataneo was found dead Nov. 28 after relatives visiting for Thanksgiving couldn't reach her or her husband, Pinellas sheriff's officials said.

Concerned, the relatives went looking for Bob Green, the caretaker for the couple's house at 7 Baybrook Place. Green used his key to let them in through the back door. The home was unusually cool, Green said afterward.

The stepmother called Deana's name and stepped into the bedroom. Then she screamed. The father yelled for Green to dial 911. Green said Deana Cataneo's body was on the bed under a sheet.

Detectives said she died from "homicidal violence," but have offered no details.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Bordner would not answer questions about the case late Tuesday.

Detectives learned Cataneo was last seen in Louisiana three days before his wife's body was discovered.

He was seen in Marrero, La., on Nov. 25 and then in Jefferson Parish the next day. Then, in December, he showed up on a store's surveillance footage in Baton Rouge.

Detectives got a warrant for his arrest, but could not find him until this week. Jail records show Cataneo was being held without bail at the Clark County jail in Nevada. An extradition hearing is set for Thursday.

Cataneo has no prior criminal record in Florida. But a 1987 Los Angeles Times article and court records suggest that when he was 19, Cataneo was one of three teens accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. How that case was resolved remains unclear.

Times staff researchers Carolyn Edds and Caryn Baird contributed to this story.

Husband arrested in Belleair killing 01/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 1:28pm]

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