On July 31, a man called the Boynton Beach Police Department to report that a friend named "Delilah" was planning to kill her husband.
The informant had once known Delilah well. She was lithe and slender, with long dark hair, green eyes, and a cosmetically enhanced figure. The two had met a decade earlier, when she walked into one of his unnamed stores in Boca Raton. She introduced herself, and they began a relationship of sorts.
"I don't want to say dating," the man explained, "but more intimate friends."
Over the years, though, they grew apart. He got married and broke things off. He heard Delilah got engaged to a "rich architect" and moved to California. "It was all about money," the man said. "She got a $40,000 engagement ring from him, she got a brand-new Mercedes from him, then left him."
When that relationship ended, Delilah headed back to Florida and married a new man. She soon reconnected with her old fling, though, and lately she had been asking for some strange favors.
"She asked if I knew someone who can kill her husband for her," the man said.
According to the informant, Delilah was after her new husband's money. She'd already "lost" $200,000 of his and was willing to go to extreme measures to get more of his dough. When she went so far as to ask the informant to buy a gun for her, he became alarmed. "I decided to come to you guys," the man told the police, "because she's really dead serious on getting this done."
Immediately, Boynton Beach Police began working with the informant to set up an elaborate sting operation. They taped meetings between Delilah — real name: Dalia Dippolito — and her old friend. They styled an undercover cop to pose as a hit man. They recorded her saying she was "5,000 percent sure" she wanted her husband dead.
Within days, the police arrested Mrs. Dippolito in spectacular fashion. They set up a fake crime scene. They let Mrs. Dippolito believe the murder had been committed, having an officer break the news of her husband's death. When she sobbed dramatically, her antics were caught by a video crew. Only later, in a tiny interrogation room at the police station, would officers reveal that her husband was alive.
The case seemed like a slam-dunk for the cops: Gold-digging, plastic-surgery-loving wife tries to murder hubby! But deeper investigation would uncover a more complex story. Dalia might be ruthless and conniving, but her husband has a troubling rap sheet of his own. Their marriage was built on a rickety foundation of lies, jilted lovers, and bizarre financial deals. Both would suffer the consequences when their high-rolling romance imploded.
Dalia Mohammed was born in New York, the eldest of three children. The family moved to Boynton Beach when Dalia was 13. Her Egyptian father waited tables at the Ritz-Carlton, while her Peruvian mother worked as a manager for an HMO. Dalia attended Santaluces High School in Lantana.
The year Dalia turned 18, her mom filed for divorce, alleging in court documents that her dad had a girlfriend on the side. Her dad eventually moved to Maine, while Randa Mohammed and the children remained in Boynton. By November 2000, according to court documents, Dalia was attending college and working.
From then on, the public picture of Dalia's life gets murky.
Eventually, according to the informant/friend, Dalia moved to California with her architect fiancé and worked in a massage or tanning parlor. The friend said she "took his ring, took some money, divorced him." It's unclear how long she stayed out west.
By 2006, she was back in Florida long enough to get a real estate sales license. When the informant spent time with her, he noticed a change in her persona. She spoke with the polite yet petulant tone of a woman accustomed to getting her way. She seemed well aware of her body's power — the slender waist, generous chest, full lips. For years, she had watched men bend to her will. When she said please to a man, she expected to get what she wanted.
"She has like a two-faced personality," her friend said in a police interview. "You could be sitting in the car talking to her or out to dinner talking to her, and all of a sudden she'll just, like, have a tantrum. Like, if she doesn't have it her way, then it's the highway."
Michael Dippolito came from a different world. He was Italian, from Philadelphia, and 12 years older than Dalia. Four tattoos decorated his meticulously well-muscled arms and legs: a woman, an Italian flag, Jesus Christ, and a black panther.
When he was 22, in 1993, he was arrested in Philadelphia for possession and intent to deliver drugs (court records don't specify what kind). He skipped his first hearing in the case, and the judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest. That warrant remains active; there's no record that the Philadelphia Police ever tracked him down.