Broward News

Even Lucy and Ethel Had Their Differences

It's well-known that Debra Villegas and Melissa Britt Lewis were best friends. They ate lunch together, texted every night, vacationed together in the Keys. They nicknamed themselves Lucy and Ethel, and according to Debra, some people in their office at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm joked that the two women -- both newly single, going through divorces -- were husband and wife.

Yet in her interviews with the Plantation police officers who were investigating Melissa's death in 2008, Debra pointed out that she and Melissa were unlikely friends.

They met in 1999 when Melissa was in law school, clerking for Scott Rothstein, who was then a lowly labor and employment attorney. Debra was Rothstein's secretary. She had no advanced degree and a gaggle of kids. Melissa had gone back to college after dropping out of high school. She was single, ambitious, editor of the Law Review at Nova Southeastern University.

But the two women found they shared a love of shopping, Disney World, and children. Working together for nine years, they saw each other nearly every day and became each others' adopted family. Still, Debra told police, they had very different social circles.

"We are so different in everything that we do, except for everything that we do together," Debra said in a sworn 2008 police interview. "I'll go mudding, four-wheeling. I'm on the beach... I work out, I play lacrosse. She [Melissa] will not break a sweat. She does not go outside. She does not sleep under the stars..."

"I go country music dancing. I do swing dancing and stuff like that. I drink Miller Light. I drink beer. She drinks wine," Debra continued. "I go to the Round Up [country western club], and I do dance lessons and stuff like that. She doesn't want to go in there; you know, it's smoky."

"So, our social lives are not the same at all."