On March 10, 2008 Plantation police detectives confronted Tony Villegas at the Florida East Coast Railway depot in Fort Lauderdale with a search warrant. He told them he had been expecting them.
By this time, detectives had been quietly questioning people about the murder of Melissa Britt Lewis for four days. Many of their questions centered on Tony, a train conductor and the estranged husband of Melissa's best friend, Debra Villegas.
As the interview began, Tony broke down crying, according to the police report. On the night Melissa was murdered, he said, he was either home in Miami Gardens, at his parents' house, or at one of his two sisters' houses.
(This is not what he told his roommate, Wilset Pascual. According to Pascual, after work that night Tony said he was going to see an attorney).
Tony "denied any involved in the murder of Melissa Lewis," according to the police report.
He admitted "he was bothered by guys being at 'his' house with Debra, but he was not bothered by the relationship that Debra had with Melissa," the report continued. "Debra was a smart woman and did not need Melissa," he told the police.
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Pascual had told investigators that he saw Tony washing pepper spray from his arms the night Melissa was murdered. Police found pepper sprays stains in the garage of Melissa's home in Plantation, where she was strangled to death.
But Tony said he didn't own pepper spray, "and there is no reason it would be on him, and that he has never used pepper spray."
Nine days later, forensic testing revealed that Tony's DNA had been found on Melissa's suit jacket - the same jacket she wore on the day she died.
He was arrested on March 15, 2008, and charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, and remains in the Broward County jail awaiting trial. His attorney, Al Milian, has not responded to New Times' requests for comment.