But her wants were often capricious. After that first marriage fell apart in late 1978, she bounced through two more husbands during the early 1980s, the second of whom she wed illegally because she was, technically, still married to the first. She developed a keen sense of business and by the mid-1980s was president of a construction company called V-Lar, based in Edgewater, a forgotten highway town of 15,000 along I-95.

On a weekday afternoon in 1985, Virginia visited a nearby dental office on Knapp Street, where she met a dark-haired dentist named Norman Larzelere. She now says she adored him from the start. The two made an odd pair: he wonky and careful, she vivacious and sexual. They married quickly, on June 14, 1985, and Norman Larzelere, whom everyone called Doc, soon adopted his new wife's two children, Jessica and Jason.

The family moved into the dentist's multiwing mansion in DeLand, which had housed aristocrats from a U.S. congressman to John Graham, president of First Union Bank. "Norm was my best friend," says Virginia, chestnut eyes electric with memories. "It's rare in life when you meet someone you can talk to about anything in the world."

Jason Larzelere, Norman Larzelere's 18-year-old stepson.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Jason Larzelere, Norman Larzelere's 18-year-old stepson.
The gunman broke into the dental office with a shotgun.
Courtesy of Gary McDaniel
The gunman broke into the dental office with a shotgun.

Juanita Washington, who's now 82 and still in DeLand, was the Larzelere housekeeper. She remembers tending to an archetypal nuclear family. "There was nothing but love in that household," she says. "Nothing but love."

According to a financial statement from those years, times were indeed good for the dentist. He had a net worth of $1.1 million and owned boats, cars, and $200,000 worth of paintings and antiques. His home, tucked among oaks dripping Spanish moss, included a screened pool, a basketball court, and a guesthouse.

But despite the family's apparent wealth, disturbing problems simmered. In 1986, Virginia's business went bankrupt after she was charged in state court with embezzling $30,000 from a Daytona Beach construction company; she paid a settlement of $34,000, and the charges were dismissed.

More troubling, her six-foot, 130-pound son began to evince a temperament that was volatile and violent. "We were all close when we were young," says Jason's sister, Jessica. "But two years before my father died, I had a friend over. Jason was so angry that she and I had to lock ourselves in the closet as he was beating on the door. When we finally thought it was safe to come out, he punched me in the face and broke my nose."

Jason, who attended gay clubs in Orlando and collected drag-queen friends, also displayed an unusual and aggressive fealty to his mother. "He threw me down the stairs and broke my ribs by kicking me over and over again," his sister recalls. "I had told my dad that Mom was cheating on him with a patient of his."

Virginia Larzelere had, in fact, cheated on her husband with at least three other men, court records show. One of them was Phillip Langston, a six-foot-five exotic-animal and parrot collector who lived in a New Smyrna Beach hovel north of Edgewater. He slept with Virginia in 1989, and, he alleged in court, she once complained about her husband abusing her in a rage, saying she wanted to "get rid" of Norman for $50,000 — though Lang­ston didn't think she was serious.

Another of Virginia's lovers was a Californian named Norman Lee Karn, who favored big black cowboy hats and dated Larzelere for three months in early 1989. After requesting $500,000 for his testimony, which authorities rejected, he claimed Virginia had asked one of his pals at a tavern to kill her husband so she could marry Karn. (The friend later testified it was just "bar talk.")

And on that warm afternoon in March 1991, when a masked man broke into Dr. Norman Larzelere's dental office with a sawed-off shotgun and unloaded a single round into the dentist, every eyeball in Edgewater settled upon Virginia Larzelere and her strange son, Jason.


Six weeks after the murder, on an early May morning, a jowly and good-natured detective named Dave Gamell, who often played Santa Claus for local kids, grabbed a phone at the Edgewater Police Station. It was a friend of Jason Larzelere's, and he said he wanted to talk. He knew where the murder weapon was.

So that morning, Gamell climbed into his car and drove through 37 miles of baking farmland to a weather-battered, beige house in DeBary, where he shook hands with a cherub-faced kid named Steven Heidle.

The 20-year-old, who shared an Orlando apartment with Jason and was paid by the Larzeleres to look after their troubled son, seemed terrified.

The detective listened to the boy talk for hours. Heidle said he performed household tasks for Jason and knew him better than most. Days after the murder, Heidle confessed he had climbed into his own mom's attic and retrieved a bag of cement and a sawed-off shotgun he alleged Jason had stashed there. Next, under the orders of Virginia Larzelere, a woman he claimed to have met only once before, he went to the Larzelere manor with the gun and cement.

Azure eyes big and glassy, Heidle stressed to police he did this only because of the control Virginia had over him. She was evil, he said. "She'd just had her husband killed," he later explained at trial. "She wouldn't think twice about killing me too."

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10 comments
jenkemjones
jenkemjones

Jason did it because his mother/f-buddy asked him to.

pretext1
pretext1

The author did his research and for editorial reasons did not to share writers private investigative results which identify the perpetrators their motives and relationships with witness Palmieri and the late Steven Heidle.  Virginia Larzelere is provable an innocent person as the evidence proves. The opinions and facts have been shared with enforcement and prosecutors.  Only to fall on deaf hears. They were known to the defenders of Virginia Larzelere and plead by Virginia's only advocate defender attorney Harry Brody, before Brody entered private practice. Based on the Brody pleadings the court ordered an evidence hearing on the 'ineffective assistance' and 'prove of innocence claims.  The quoted lawyer David Henry and subordinates that replaced Brody made a decisions based on economics to use only writers ineffective assistance evidence and testimony.  They prevented writer from attesting to the 'prove of innocence' evidence that impeaches the states theory of the murder and proves Heidle and Palmieri lied to cover up a relationship they shared with the perpetrators and others involved in teh day time burglary of the Office of Dr. Norman Larzelere. 


Writer solved this murder by investigating the states evidence.  The state identified Heidle and Palmieri as the persons that had possession and control of the weapons recovered in the river.  These witnesses took authorities to the weapons after admitting they had encased them in concrete.  The State with held the fact from the jury that Palmieri and Heidle told conflicting stories as to the origin and storage of the weapons before being disposed.  Palmeri attested on a private statement to the prosecution team the weapons had been were stored in the Heidle home attic with a ski mask.  Heidle attested they were stored in the home by Virginia and Jason.  The conflicting stories were with held from the Grand Jury and because these witnesses consistently told conflicting and  unbelievable stories the Orlando State attorney office kept no court reporter record of the grand jury.  As the author of the article was told if a member of the original grand jury came forward the conflicts could be proven and Virginia would be free once the misconduct was exposed. In the alternative the state could expend approximately 500.00 and 40 investigative hours to take confessions or simple grant Palmieri immunity once again to tell the truth.   


As to the surviving sons and children of Virginia and Norman Larzelere they deserve to see justice served. As a reader answer the question where does one go with prove of innocence and evidence that identifies persons that committed the murder of Norman Larzelere and stole more then 90 weapons that were sold to street person and reportedly used in at least one other murder and criminal activity?   




Cybrdoogie
Cybrdoogie

Unusually poor reporting by the New Times.  I lived near Edgewater when Dr. Norman Larzelere was killed and I followed the case closely.  Thanks to the internet there is still a wide amount of material available for review. 

She was found guilty of masterminding the plot, and as the mastermind faced the same penalty--death--as any actual first-degree murderer.  Funny how you forget that fact in your article.

You glossed over the resentencing.  She is no longer on death row.  You did note that she is actually up for parole in a couple years but still, your headline does not reflect that development.

And you did not include tons of other available pieces of evidence easily available for all to see.  Her first husband was shot 4 times and they never caught the shooter.  Second husband, who was a cop, felt like he was set up by her to be shot and the last husband was shot & killed.  Sorry, where there is smoke there is fire. 

I especially like her own words here where she laments she has not seen  her son Jason or her daughter Jessica in over a decade.  Why didn't she comment on her other children, David and Benjamin?  Dr. Larzelere was their biological father.  Doesn't she miss them too?

Jeremy Jensen
Jeremy Jensen

Do you guys ever read the stories you right? This isn't a case of a failed justice system. But a case of poor judgment on her behalf. Why would you keep an incompetent lawyer? Who cares if it is a family friend a public defender would have been better in this case.

FatHand
FatHand

Damn, didn't mean to post twice...internet!!!

FatHand
FatHand

Incredible article (and well written). Nicely done. One thing I don't get (and maybe I missed it as I was watching Jose Fernandez pitch his final game of the season while reading this), was that if Heidle was the shooter, did he have any motive? Or was he just supposedly a violent and sadistic jerk?

FatHand
FatHand

Incredible article (and well written). Nicely done. One thing I don't get (and maybe I missed it as I was watching Jose Fernandez pitch his final game of the season while reading this), was that if Heidle was the shooter, did he have any motive?

mccoy.terrence
mccoy.terrence

@CybrdoogieThanks for your comment. This story was based on court records, police documents, and concrete charges. The claims you've mentioned never merited a single charge, and, as such, weren't of much consequence to this story. Virginia Larzelere is no longer on death row, correct. We mentioned that fact within the first 500 words of the story -- and again at the end. Much appreciation for your reading.

DavisMcDavis
DavisMcDavis

@FatHand There was no motive, he was just introduced as a suspect in Jason's trial to show that they didn't ID the shooter as Jason for sure.  It wouldn't have been useful in Virginia's trial, since she was convicted of hiring someone to murder her husband.  Whether she hired her son Jason or Steven is the "reasonable doubt" that they used to get Jason off the hook, but Virginia was still involved in both those scenarios.


cybrdoogie
cybrdoogie

Terrence,

I am sorry but the title of the article is pretty disingenuous.  Yes, you did commment on her no longer being on death row but the title of the article does not reflect that development.  You interviewed Virginia a few times for the article and could have easily asked her about the shooting of her first husband as well as the situation with the second husband.  There are numerous newspaper articles widely available on the net referencing both situations.  Didn't you do any research before writing this piece?

Instead of an objective article, your article sounds like a fluff piece demanding action for a wrongly-convicted woman.  Virginia Larzelere is anything but that. 

I would be interested if she mentioned David and Benjamin to you at all during your interviews.  If not, like I said--very telling.

 
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