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Debra Villegas (left), Christina Kitterman, and Melissa Lewis.
Debra Villegas (left), Christina Kitterman, and Melissa Lewis.

Therapist Suspected Tony Villegas in Lewis Murder

While Debra Villegas told police officers she was nearly certain that her husband, Tony Villegas, didn't kill her best friend, Melissa Lewis, others who were close to the women were not so sure.

Ilene Vinikoor was a family therapist who had been counseling Debra and Melissa separately while both women were coping with divorce. She shared her thoughts on Melissa's murder in a sworn interview with Plantation police officers in March 2008.

Vinikoor explained that she knew how close Melissa and Debra were, and both of them had spoken about Tony -- especially Debra "who, um, mentioned her fear of him."

"And when I heard that Melissa was dead, I thought to myself it had to be Tony," she said, according to the interview transcript. "And it had to be Tony, in my mind, because he was Debra's [husband], and Melissa was Debra's best friend, and I thought that he would want to hurt Debra by hurting Melissa."

A friend of Melissa's also shared this view. Christina Kitterman, a fellow attorney at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, mentioned that she too saw a connection between Melissa and Tony.

"You know, Melissa always protected Debra, and she was always around, and I don't think Tony was happy about that," Kitterman said in a sworn interview with police shortly after Melissa's death in 2008.

"So if per chance, I don't know if he did anything... [but] I think if he did something to Melissa, it would be to hurt Debra, and then Debra wouldn't have anybody to confide in, anybody to protect her."

"OK, and you don't have any firsthand knowledge of that, though?" a detective asked Kitterman.

"That's just my belief," Kitterman said.

Tony Villegas was later arrested on charges of first-degree murder. He's now in the Broward County Jail awaiting trial. His attorney, Al Milian, has not responded to the Juice's requests for comment.

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