Last week Gary Karp was on the phone with John Curcio, the Broward Sheriff's Office detective now investigating the death of Karp's daughter, Marissa. The men touch base often, endlessly groping through the dark spots in a case file that's been gathering dust for more than a decade.
This time, Karp voiced some concern. The latest development had stalled: police were currently trying to extradite Almanto Coakley, a Bahamian believed to know Marissa's last moments. But the procedural gears weren't turning. If they didn't get to Coakley soon, Karp worried, he might disappear or be killed. It would slam the door on the case's strongest lead.
Then, on Friday, Karp heard the news from a reporter in the Bahamas: Coakley had been murdered the day before.
"Is it a blow? Yes, absolutely," Karp told New Times over the weekend. "We believe he had information, and now we'll never know. But we're not dead in the water."
As we recounted in a January cover story, after Marissa's body was pulled out of the Everglades in 2002, her father has been a heat-seeking bulldog on the heels of the killers, even after countless cops and agencies have packed up. Karp's hunches often proved spot on, particularly about his daughter's relationship to a Bahamian drug ring pushing cocaine around South Florida.
Marrisa was a troubled teen when she ran away from state care in spring 2002. Eventually, she fell in with a group of Bahamians, including Coakley. The girl lived with the older man in a cramped Hallandale Beach apartment. Police believe Marissa was killed inside; after the murder, Coakley trucked her body out to Alligator Alley.
Despite that role, police don't believe Coakley killed the girl. Suspicion instead has fastened on Eloyn Devon Ingraham, another Bahamian currently awaiting trial for his part in the 2006 fatal shooting of a BSO deputy -- but the circumstances linking the girl and Ingraham right now are only guesswork.
Cops believed Coakley could fill in those blank spaces. He was deported in 2006, but not before allegedly pulling a
2006 2002 contract hit on three men in Sunrise. In October, police began yanking the strings on an extradition. The Sunrise charges may have been enough to make Coakley roll on the details of Marissa's death. But police couldn't get him stateside in time.
According to the Nassau Guardian, Coakley, 39, was sitting outside a house with two other men in Fox Hill last Thursday. A man approached, shot Coakley, then fled to a waiting gold Honda Accord.
For Karp, the death of the man who could have finally put the pieces together was a hard body shot. In the ten years since his daughter's death, other names connected to the drug ring have been killed or shipped to jail or simply disappeared.
"You have to wonder whether someone in jail over here reached out to somebody there or he just screwed over the wrong person and they did him," he said. "If you look at the history, everybody that's been involved has been killed one way or another."
Still, the news isn't going to drop Karp into a lower gear.
"Is this a setback? Yes, but it's not the end. We'll see this through till the end."