By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
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That was at 12:20 p.m. Three hours later the police were back at the condo, this time at the request of Daniel. Exploitation of the elderly was the accusation; Bridget was the suspect. Cpl. Thomas Mundy, one of the officers responding to Saul Cooper's initial call, interviewed Regina. In his report he noted that she "does not suffer from any mental illness, nor is she on any medication for same. As I spoke to her, she was coherent and articulate. She gave me reasonable answers to all questions I asked.
"... Ms. Greenhill explained to me how Bridget was a very good employee and on how she enjoyed her company," Mundy wrote in his report. "I questioned Ms. Greenhill as to the reason for purchasing a home in the name of Ms. Garcia. Her explanation was, "I thought it was all right.'" (The officer apparently misunderstood the nature of the home purchase. It wasn't in Bridget's name; she simply lived there.)
Although the police department had chosen not to follow up on the assault charges filed by Bridget, and though Corporal Mundy determined that Regina was of sound mind and did not consider herself exploited, the department decided to investigate further. Det. James Cumbie interviewed Regina Greenhill again. "In discussion she advised that she at times feels afraid or intimidated by her son [Daniel]," he wrote in his report, "and that yes she did buy Bridget a car as a gift. Bridget has been working at her apartment for several years and she has never had a problem. Ms. Greenhill does not believe that she did anything wrong buying the car.
Regina's Bonavida condominium, where Bridget claims she was raped
Aventura police documented both Bridget's assault claims and, in a separate report, Regina's endorsement of her former employee
Chief Tom Ribel remains absolutely convinced of Bridget's guilt
Bridget still wears the simple wedding ring Regina bought for her
"... Ms. Greenhill has no mental illness, was coherent when interviewed, is not taking medication that would affect her knowing right from wrong, and gave reasonable answers to all questions," Cumbie concluded. "There was no misrepresentation or false promise made by Ms. Garcia. She did not induce or encourage or solicit Ms. Greenhill to enter into any contract."
After an assistant state attorney advised that no crime had occurred, Cumbie requested the case be closed. Even so, a month later he discussed the investigation with yet another assistant state attorney. Again it was determined that no crime had been committed.
Looking back on this investigation, Chief Ribel rejects the identical findings of his corporal and detective that Regina had not been exploited. "We ran this by the state attorney's office," he says. Even though Regina was clearly of sound mind, Ribel still believes Bridget committed a crime. "We wanted very much to arrest [Bridget] for extorting money from the mother," he explains. "The state [attorney's office] didn't feel comfortable. It was one of those cases where we know it's wrong, but they can't take it. I'm not the prosecutor." This is the first installment of a two-part article. Next week: The Greenhill family attorney goes on the offensive, a critical analysis of the Aventura Police Department investigation, and a revealing new polygraph test for Bridget Garcia.
Read part 2of this story.