Debra Villegas, Melissa Lewis, and the Round Up Connection
On the night her best friend was murdered in March 2008, Debra Villegas was partying with friends at the Round Up Country Western Club in Davie.
This wasn't unusual for Debra, the former chief operating officer at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm. The native Texan enjoyed line dancing, and told Plantation police detectives that she went to Round Up frequently.
In fact, in his diary, Debra's estranged husband Tony wrote that he had seen Debra "at Round Up with some guy for 3 hrs. outside making out."
It was not a sight that pleased him. "Tony you don't like flys [sic] on you meat," he wrote. "Forget her."
On the night of March 5, 2008, Debra left work around 6 p.m. and went home to have dinner with her kids, she told the police in
a sworn interview. Between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.she met up with friends Nick Martinez and Michael Clear at the club. She stayed out until around midnight, then returned home (Martinez and Clear confirmed this timeline in separate police interviews.)
The next morning, Melissa Lewis didn't show up for work. Debra called the Plantation police, and they launched an investigation. Eventually, they learned that Melissa had been strangled to death, her body dumped in a canal.
Tony Villegas was charged with first-degree murder. Among other evidence, the police found Tony's DNA on a suit jacket that Melissa had been wearing the day she was killed. Cell phone records also show that Melissa's iPhone -- which disappeared the night she died -- followed the path Tony took to his job as a train conductor the next day.
But here's where it gets creepy.
On March 7, 2008, when authorities found Melissa's body, she was floating in the New River Canal, less than a mile from Round Up.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Find out about upcoming events and special offers happening in South Florida.