The three men climbed into Guardiola's Mercedes. LaBeet began to describe the shooting, but Guardiola told him to shut up. Instead, LaBeet dialed his brother Shane.

"Come pick me up right away," he told his older brother. "I just killed a cop." Guardiola drove to a gas station near Krome Avenue and Okeechobee Road. Soon enough, Shane arrived in a rented black Pontiac Vibe. Shawn slid nervously into the back seat between his brother's two little children and told Shane's wife, Amy, to drive.

"What's going on?" Amy asked as she drove aimlessly around Opa-locka. Looking in the rear-view mirror, she could see blood smeared on her brother-in-law's hands and pants.

Illustration by Joseph Laney
Illustration by Joseph Laney

"I shot four cops," he finally answered. Panic gripped Shane and his wife. SWAT teams were searching for a wanted cop killer, and here he was: sandwiched between their toddlers inside a tiny car. As quickly as he could, Shane unloaded his brother on Jaleel Torres.

LaBeet was cool for having just killed a police officer. "He was real calm," Torres says. "He put a towel down on the ground and prayed a couple of times." LaBeet asked Allah for forgiveness but wasn't really torn up about taking another man's life. "He said he wished he could get another AK-47 and some more of 'em," Torres recalls.

The two men watched news coverage of the shootout in Naranja. Local stations kept showing photos of Kevin Wehner, not LaBeet, but Torres wanted the cop killer out of his apartment and off his conscience. After a few hours, he told LaBeet to lie in the back seat of his car and drove him to the Heron Pond apartments in Pembroke Pines.

Later that night, LaBeet called his nephew and asked him to deliver women's clothing and a wig. He planned to catch a boat back to Saint Thomas while dressed in drag.

He wouldn't make it. An armored car screeched to a halt in front of Torres' apartment just as he was leaving to meet LaBeet. Miami-Dade cops zip-tied his hands, dragged him into his house, and "beat the shit out of" him until he told them where his uncle was hiding, Torres claims.

Shortly after midnight, cops surrounded the Heron Pond complex. The Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team (SRT) slowly closed in on the pool area. They found LaBeet in the ladies' restroom.

Torres says he was in the back of a police pickup truck in the apartment parking lot when the air suddenly vibrated with scores of gunshots. SRT showed LaBeet no mercy: A coroner later found at least 15 bullet holes in the cop killer's body.


John Curcio knows more about the dead than most. The burly, bearded Broward Sheriff's Office detective once exonerated a dead man of murder. Now he hopes to do the opposite: convict Shawn LaBeet's corpse of killing Chris Reyka.

"LaBeet is our main suspect," Curcio says. "Everything about him just makes sense."

Curcio won't admit it, but catching Reyka's killer is personal for him. He has Reyka's badge number — 9463 — tattooed on his left wrist. And for more than a year after taking the case, he returned to the Walgreens parking lot every Friday to reflect on the crime.

After spending six months sorting through a roomful of files, Curcio settled on LaBeet as the main suspect. He has spent the past two years digging to unearth new evidence. He refuses to discuss his findings in detail, but he says one of the first things he did was track down an eyewitness who had been deported to Jamaica in 2010. That witness and others place LaBeet in the area at the time of the shooting.

Last July, news outlets reported that detectives had found spent 9mm casings at a car wash near the Walgreens — the same caliber used to kill Reyka — and that witnesses had placed LaBeet at the car wash later that night.

Initially, investigators had focused on the so-called CVS Bandits: three men who had been robbing drugstores before Reyka's killing. But Curcio says that scenario makes little sense. The men continued robbing for weeks after the shooting and never tried to reduce their robbery sentences by snitching about the killing.

Instead, the detective believes LaBeet is his man. But the most baffling question might go unanswered: If Shawn LaBeet killed Sergeant Reyka, setting in motion his cop-killing massacre a month later in Miami, what caused him to crack in the first place?

"I don't know," says Johnson, LaBeet's sister. "Something went wrong and he snapped. I can't tell you what was in his mind when it was happening. That's between him and the man above."

"To this day, I don't understand what happened," echoes Shane LaBeet, who spent almost a month in jail and a year on probation for helping his brother escape. "Shawn is already dead and gone. He's suffered for his crime. Lord knows the police officer's family has suffered. Everyone has suffered."

Renee D'Angelo refused to speak to New Times — not without reason. D'Angelo and five others — Shane LaBeet, Jaleel Torres, Lázaro Guardiola, Alain Gonzalez, and Gonzalez's mother, Alba Bello — were all put on probation for helping Shawn LaBeet escape.

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6 comments
pattilynn7177
pattilynn7177

I have to disagree with Perkins.  First, Curcio has NO axe to grind.  He has always been meticulous.  If he says that it'sLaBeet, I believe him.  Curcio has never granndstanded over any of the cases that he has been involved in solving.  Sgt. Reyka would have approved of his methods, investigation, and conclusions.  This story was very well done, and I appreciate the thoroughness.

perkins1085
perkins1085

This is simply a case of BSO grasping at straws to bring closure to open murder case.  They can assume Lebeet is their suspect but they'll never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he really is since dead men can't tell tales. 

perkins1085
perkins1085

@pattilynn7177  


This smells of Scott Israel & his quest to make a name for himself.  It sounds like Curico had LaBeet figured for this crime years ago--Why didn't BSO come forward with this years ago?


Its not a coincidence that the newly elected super sheriff solves a 7yr open murder case within his first year of office.  

pattilynn7177
pattilynn7177

@perkins1085 @pattilynn7177  


Mr. Perkins, I believe that John Curcio was working on it even when Al Lamberti was sheriff.  I don't believe that your premise, "making a name for himself," is true, I certainbly hope not.  No law enforcement officer that I've ever worked with, or known, would put politics above anything, when it comes to solving the murder of a fellow law enforcement officer.  John Curcio would not.

 
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