By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
In December 2007, Alfaro set up another grow house in Delray Beach, according to PBSO documents, which also indicate that the DEA had been seeking an indictment against Alfaro for the Parkland grow houses since at least October. And he seemed to be daring law enforcement to pin him down. Friends who'd known him for years said his personality had taken a dark turn. The high-spirited boy had morphed into something more ominous: He openly threatened violence to anyone who might be planning on "ratting him out."
Courtney was fed up with him too, and frightened. Alfaro had beaten her, she told Oliver, and she'd finally left him. Now she was willing to talk: He owned a .45-caliber Glock handgun. He'd once described a theoretical murder plan: If he ever killed Stevie, he'd chop up his friend's body and scatter the parts all over the city.
Oliver tracked Alfaro to the Delray grow house in May 2008. At the same time, the Delray Beach narcotics division was planning a raid on the house based on an informant's tip. But when Oliver and Delray cops showed up, Alfaro had fled again — evidently warned that the cops were closing in. When Oliver and Delray police arrived, all they found were stray pieces of equipment — rows of black buckets, empty boxes that had once held lights. And that telltale sweet-acrid smell.
Meanwhile, Alfaro flew to Maine. He spent time in Canada. Then in the fall of 2008, he headed back to Florida and started yet another grow house, this time scaled down to fit in the condo he'd rented in a gated complex in Deerfield Beach, according to court documents. He also had a couple of new aliases: Julian Kane and Philip Durante. In Durante's name, using a fake I.D. and fraudulent credit, he'd bought a new, white Infiniti for $32,000.
Coconut Creek police stopped Alfaro's Infiniti for a traffic infraction the night of October 30 and found a sheaf of false I.D.s. At the station, Alfaro confessed to stealing the identity of Philip Durante, an old childhood friend. He sneered at how easy it had been to get a fake driver's license at the bureau, boasting, "The bitch didn't even ask for I.D. when I told her I lost my license." Cops got a sample of Alfaro's DNA off a bag of peanuts he'd been tipping into his mouth. They found Canadian currency in his car. They turned up credit cards in the name of his aliases. And they found out he already had an active warrant for his arrest from Broward Sheriff's Office for grand theft auto.
Oliver had a chance to interview Alfaro briefly, hoping to learn more about the murder, but Alfaro responded that he "had nothing to say." He did tell Oliver that the detective's "vendetta" against him had "cost him about $100,000." As he was being transported to jail, according to Coconut Creek police records, Alfaro taunted the cops again and again, regaling them with the details of his grow houses. Broward Sheriff's Office records say BSO went over and picked up the eight pounds of pot and ten marijuana plants in Alfaro's condo. Coconut Creek police charged him with fraud, larceny, and grand theft auto.
But the pattern held: Authorities didn't have the muscle to hold him. A friend paid Alfaro's bond, and he was a free man again.
It wasn't until five months later, on March 6, 2009, that Oliver finally got a break. The FBI had called with a lead. A man named Zayd Awadallah claimed he knew that Alfaro had killed Febonio. Awadallah had told the FBI that Febonio wanted to get out of his partnership at the grow house. Febonio was insisting that Alfaro pay him $10,000 for the construction work he had done.
Awadallah told Oliver that he was talking in hopes the cops would go easy on him for a Broward County cocaine trafficking charge. Alfaro, he said, had confessed that he'd shot Stevie in the back of the head and stuffed his body into a General Electric freezer he'd bought at a BrandsMart in Deerfield Beach. The freezer, Awadallah said, had been kept at a house in Boca Raton. Awadallah said several people had seen the body in the freezer. The house had been burglarized, and when thieves opened the freezer, they found Febonio's corpse and fled, leaving the door open. When the homeowners and friends returned, they too had gotten an eyeful.
Alfaro was in Maine when he heard about the burglary, Awadallah said. Alfaro flew home in a hurry to move the freezer, with its 200-pound contents, yet again.
Five days later, the FBI learned that Alfaro had boarded a plane in Fort Lauderdale bound for Costa Rica. They called to tell Oliver that customs agents in Costa Rica had refused him entry and sent him back to the States. But sensing that his luck was running out in Florida, Alfaro was preparing to flee the state.
Court documents claim Alfaro had either confessed to or hinted at the murder to at least a half-dozen friends and girlfriends. One of those ex-girlfriends, Alisa Catoggio, was to become one of Oliver's best sources. She told Oliver that after she posted Alfaro's bond in Coconut Creek, as they were driving to Marco Island, Alfaro not only admitted killing Stevie but told her the gruesome details. Alfaro had driven Stevie to a construction site where he'd laid down a piece of black tarp in preparation for the murder. He'd told his friend he needed help getting supplies. While Stevie had his back turned in a corner of the garage, Alfaro shot him once in the back of the head. He left Febonio's body there, covering him with drywall until the next day. Then he came back with the freezer. He wrapped Stevie's body in the plastic tarp, shoved it into the freezer, and belted it closed. And he'd hidden the gun in the white Infiniti that Coconut Creek police arrested him in a year later. Laughing, Alfaro bragged to Catoggio about how the stupid cops had never found the weapon.