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DCF worker found dead after questioning

Published Jun. 8, 2001|Updated Sep. 10, 2005

Hours after being questioned in the killing of a co-worker, a Department of Children and Families supervisor fell or jumped to her death Thursday from a balcony at her mother's home.

Candice Fiore, 50, was found at 8 a.m. in the swimming pool of her mother's home. Brevard County Sheriff Phil Williams said she fell from the balcony and hit the pavement before falling into the pool sometime after 6 a.m.

Detectives with the Sheriff's Office had questioned Fiore, a DCF adoptions supervisor, for two hours early in the morning about the stabbing death of another DCF employee.

Caseworker Tracy Bagwell, 36, last seen Tuesday, was found stabbed in the head and chest in the front seat of her 1997 green Nissan Maxima at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday. The car was in the parking lot of First Baptist Church on Merritt Island.

Authorities said Fiore's hand was cut and bandaged when they questioned her.

"I think there is a relationship with Bagwell's death," Williams said, but he added that detectives still did not know the nature of the relationship between the two women.

"Other than them both being employees at DCF, it is not known," Williams said.

After Bagwell's body was found, detectives interviewed co-workers at DCF. There, they learned that Bagwell usually carried a pager, but it was missing when her body was found.

At midnight, police dialed the number for Bagwell's pager.

Somebody returned the call but hung up as soon as detectives answered. Investigators traced the call to Fiore's home on Carib Drive in Merritt Island, then staked it out.

"When you page a deceased person's pager and someone calls you back, that gets your interest," Williams said.

About 1 a.m., Fiore drove her husband's pickup to a nearby 7-Eleven. One investigator followed her inside while another paged her again.

When the investigator inside heard the pager go off, he knew Fiore had Bagwell's pager.

Fiore was taken to the Merritt Island sheriff's precinct for questioning. She was accompanied by her husband, Dan Fiore, administrator at Our Saviour's Catholic Church in Cocoa Beach.

After two hours of questioning, Candice Fiore cut off the interview because she did not have a lawyer with her. Without enough evidence to charge her in Bagwell's death, police let her go, Williams said.

Fiore refused to say why or how she had Bagwell's pager, Williams said.

Fiore later fell or jumped from a second-floor balcony at her mother's home, Williams said. She had a gash on her head.

Authorities also found a suicide note Fiore left at her parents' home, sheriff's spokeswoman Joan Heller said.

Autopsy results for Fiore were not available.

Cecka Green, a DCF spokeswoman, said Bagwell and Fiore worked out of the Village Green Service Center in Rockledge, north of Melbourne.

Green said both workers were well-liked and that there were no reports of problems between them.

Friends and co-workers of Fiore's husband were stunned by the sequence of events. Fiore was a regular at Our Saviour's church functions and once sang in the choir, said Marilyn Belawski, the parish secretary.

"She was very loving and warm; she just loved everybody," Belawski said. "We had many staff gatherings at the Fiores' home over the years."

Other friends described her as outgoing and even-tempered _ a woman who greeted people with hugs.

The Fiores have two adopted sons: Matthew, who graduated this year from Melbourne Catholic High School, and Michael, who attends Our Saviour's Catholic School.

Dan Fiore said he was too distraught to talk about his wife's death. "I'm still trying to figure out what happened," he said.

_ The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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