Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Relative tells how lonely Pasco man's Internet romance now part of nightmares in hospital

NEW PORT RICHEY — Joseph Bruno said he was fine, but his stepfather could tell he was lonely. Bruno, 44, lost so much these past few years. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to give up his handyman business — roofing, carpeting, plumbing — because he couldn't physically do it anymore. He went on disability, relatives said, and moved from Virginia to Florida because he wanted a nice, quiet place near the ocean to live a peaceful life.

He hadn't been in a relationship for two years, his family said, and wanted a companion. But even knowing this, how lonesome he was, they were shocked last week when he announced a woman he'd met recently on the Internet was moving in with him. Her teenage son was coming too, Bruno said.

His stepfather, Eugene DeAngelis, urged Bruno to reconsider.

"To take them into your home without knowing anything is a bad thing," DeAngelis, who lives in New York, told Bruno.

But Bruno told him it was fine.

"Everything is cool," Bruno told his stepfather.

He said Bobbie Jo Curtis, 40, and her son, Bryan Curtis, 16, were being evicted from where they lived and had no place to go. Bruno assured his stepfather that moving into his Moon Lake Estates house on Midvale Avenue was just a "temporary" thing.

DeAngelis fretted. He had such a bad feeling about it.

And then he got a nightmarish call this weekend: The Curtises and a friend, Vanessa Musson, 26, tied Bruno to a chair, beat him with a baseball bat and robbed him at gunpoint, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. Deputies said a neighbor, David Ragon, 69, saw them unloading Bruno's belongings and asked what was going on. Ragon was also attacked with the bat and a hammer, breaking his jaw, giving him a concussion.

"God, I just wish he would have listened to me," DeAngelis said Monday.

Bobbie Jo Curtis and her son were arrested this weekend. Both are charged with attempted murder, unlawful imprisonment, grand theft auto and aggravated battery.

Bruno is still in the hospital and has a breathing tube, DeAngelis said. His condition was very critical this weekend, but it he is now stable, although Bruno is now fighting a "severe case of pneumonia," DeAngelis said.

Ragon is home but not speaking to reporters.

Bobbie Jo Curtis has a long criminal history, with 14 arrests since 2001 on charges such as aggravated assault, burglary and selling prescription drugs. Musson, who is still at large, spent nearly a year in prison on drug crimes, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

DeAngelis said his stepson is traumatized and keeps waking up in his hospital bed, thinking he's still being attacked.

"They are going to get what they deserve," DeAngelis said of those who beat his stepson. "I'm sure of that."

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

>>fast facts

Suspect in attack remains at large

The Sheriff's Office urges anyone with information about Vanessa Musson to not approach her and to call (727) 844-7711. She might have stolen firearms from Joseph Bruno and might be driving his 2000 white Econoline van with a roof and ladder rack, tag number 366TQH. She also goes by "Shorty" and has many tattoos, including "Nessa."

Relative tells how lonely Pasco man's Internet romance now part of nightmares in hospital 09/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims


    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  2. Rick Baker lowers expectations before St. Pete mayoral primary


    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker officially lowered expectations in the mayoral race on Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Baker has consistently led in local polls and fundraising totals this summer. But at a fundraiders …

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday
  3. What you need to know for Wednesday, Aug. 23


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Music producer Kevin Erondu, 31, who grew up in Dade City, rose to prominence after creating the beat to "Swag Surfin'," a 2009 club hit that still inspires viral videos today.
  4. Drawing nears for Powerball jackpot that's climbed to $700 million


    DES MOINES, Iowa — The estimated jackpot for Wednesday night's Powerball lottery game has climbed to $700 million, making it the second-largest in U.S. history.

    The estimated jackpot for the Powerball lottery drawing on Aug. 23, 2017, has climbed to $700 million, making it the second-largest in U.S. history. [Associated Press]
  5. 'Swag Surfin' producer: 'It's very weird… they're still playing the song' eight years later

    Music & Concerts


    Kevin Erondu doesn't often go to night clubs. Yet, across America, he drives people to the dance floor. He's 31 years old, but he still has the ear of college students, and while he's no pro athlete, they leap to their feet when he joins them in the gym.

    Originally from Dade City, music producer Kevin Erondu, 31, rose to prominence after creating the beat to Swag Surfin’, a 2009 club hit that still inspires viral videos today.