Broward News

Criminal History in Febonio Murder Case: Why Did Jose Alfaro Go Free?

As Juice commenters have pointed out often enough in our coverage of the murder of Stephen Febonio, neither the accused nor his victim were angels when it came to prior criminal history. And despite a string of felony charges, neither man had much trouble slipping out of doing any real jail time: They made it look easy.

Jose Alfaro, the 28-year-old accused of shooting his longtime friend Stephen Febonio in the back of the head over a money dispute in August 2007, and then burying him inside a freezer in Delray Beach, had plenty of run-ins with the law in Florida. Records obtained yesterday reveal that Alfaro was not only arrested on unrelated felony charges a full year after he was the last person to see Febonio alive, but the charges were then mysteriously "abandoned" by the state attorney's office, allowing Alfaro to walk free.

Alfaro ran into big trouble in October of 2008, when Coconut Creek police arrested him for Grand Theft Auto and a string of other charges including larceny and identity fraud. That Coconut Creek arrest took place just three months after authorities discovered a marijuana grow house in Delray Beach rented in Alfaro's name, where he had been living and cultivating plants, according to police affidavits.

Alfaro may have received a tip about the looming grow house bust, which occurred in May of 2008, because he abandoned the house just days before the raid. His arrest a few months later by Coconut Creek police should have earned him a mess of jail time.

But of the seven charges Alfaro was booked on -- three of them felonies -- none was ever prosecuted by the State Attorney's office. And the misdemeanor charges included "failure to appear,"  which should have flagged him as a flight risk. Nor does it seem that Alfaro was ever charged with anything in connection with the Delray grow house.

It doesn't take a genius to wonder if Alfaro had made a deal. Was he acting as an informant for the DEA? Had he provided (possibly false) information to police about Febonio's disappearance? 

Alfaro -- the last person to ever see Febonio alive, the same man implicated in a note Febonio left for his father before he disappeared -- spent two years after Febonio vanished as a free man, sloughing off felonies as easily as beach sand. It would be a full four months after Alfaro was arrested in Coconut Creek that police finally dug up Febonio's body at the Delray Beach grow house. And by that time, Alfaro had slipped away yet again: possibly attempting to book a flight to Costa Rica first, and then fleeing to hide out in an unfinished shell of a house with his mother in a small town in New York. His eventual arrest in August of 2009 was filmed and broadcast on A & E's "Manhunters" last week.

We'll post on Febonio's criminal record tomorrow. Below, a clip from the show: