Families and Friends Still Have Questions After Deaths of Two Young Women

Brianna with Richard Lippner.
Brianna with Richard Lippner.

The friends and families of two young women are still pondering the mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Brianna Negron, 23, a lifelong resident of South Florida, passed away in January. Casey DiStefano, 20, who moved to Miami from Union, New Jersey, after graduating high school, died in May. Both women were blond, beautiful, and active in the local nightlife scene. They also both dated Richard Lippner, the 38-year-old who called 911 both times to report that the women had stopped breathing. Police are investigating the deaths and have named Lippner as a "person of interest."

Brianna was a bright-eyed regular at several local nightclubs. She loved listening to Britney Spears and dancing with her friends. "When she walked into a room, she had every single head turning," remembers a friend.

Casey was a bartender and aspiring model. She moved to Florida with a friend hoping to start her career. She worked at Hooters on Biscayne in Miami, then later at the Living Room Nightclub in Fort Lauderdale.

The families of both women are understandably wrought with grief. Friends regularly post messages and photos to the Facebook memorial pages for each girl. Many hope police will bring charges against Lippner soon.

The medical examiner determined Brianna's cause of death was "pneumonia complicated by Xanax." Four months later, Casey was suffering similar symptoms when paramedics arrived: She had been vomiting, her lips were a dark shade of blue, and she had stopped breathing. Her official cause of death is listed as "combined drug toxicity."

In a phone interview, one friend of Brianna's said a lot of people in the nightlife scene suspect Lippner was involved in her death. "He probably wouldn't have hurt Brianna on purpose," the friend said, "but with drugs, accidents can happen."

Eileen Stotzer-Warnock, Casey's mother, is more blunt: "You've got a 38-year-old guy who's into partying and drugs, and young blond girls keep dying around him. That's more than suspicious."

She says the family is still stunned. "Casey had so much energy, so much life left in her. This is just such a waste."

Through his attorney, Lippner declined to comment.

WSVN's Carmel Cafiero did a short segment on the case in June. At the time, Lippner's attorney, Melody Ridgley Fortunato, said her client was "not in any way involved in the deaths of these young women." She said he had absolutely nothing to do with the girls having drugs, noting, "This is the South Florida party life, unfortunately, and these two girls are victims of that."

We'll have more on this story as the investigation continues.

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