Marissa Karp Murder: A Decade of Investigation Pays Off

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Inside apartment 328 at the Boardwalk at Inverrary, a pocket of low-rent apartments painted lipstick pink and pale peach, two men were lying dead on the floor. Twenty-year-old Calvin Russell's face was pressed into a pillow, a gray blanket covering his lower half. Blood flowed from holes where a bullet had punched through the back of his head and out his right cheek. Two additional shots punctured the arms that emerged from his white T-shirt.

Thirty-four-year-old Cardwell Heastie was laid out in a similar position — draped in a gray blanket, his arms gripping a pillow. Gunfire had blasted through his neck and shoulders. A third man had been paralyzed after being shot twice in the hallway.

Cops found $17,000 stuffed in a garbage bag in a back bedroom, records show. Witnesses reported two unknown black men had been spotted nearby that morning, but details were vague. The strongest evidence police had was that one of the men involved went by the nickname "D-Boy."

On October 21, 2002, BSO contacted the Bahamas, where detectives quickly learned the shooting was drug-related, the work of a Bahamian living in Broward named Ryan "Whitey" Woods. He had been hired by a drug dealer for $10,000 to kill the men after some cocaine had been stolen.

Then, in a January 2003 jailhouse interview, cops hit pay dirt. A snitch reported two others had been hired along with Woods to recover the drugs or money. One of them was Marissa Karp's boyfriend, Almanto Coakley.

That wasn't enough for the cops. "There was no confirmation of any of this information to be true," a tepid note in the case file reads. "Detectives did attempt to locate Woods and Coakley in this entire investigation but have never been able to confirm true or positive identifications on either subject."

By 2006, Gary's cold war with police had thawed some, perhaps because by then he had logged hundreds of hours discussing his daughter's investigation with them. Though he paid the bills at home with occasional odd jobs, at one point running a hot-dog cart outside the Broward County Jail, he filled most of his hours with Marissa.

"He was distracting, but you know, it does help out in a way," retired BSO Det. Ray Carmody says. "You work harder for a parent who cares."

Over time, Gary's head became a flow chart of names and dates. In 2006, he called Sunrise police and asked to see the case file on the triple shooting off Oakland Park Boulevard. He was flipping through the pages at the department when he saw the name of Marissa's boyfriend, Coakley.

And that wasn't the only development to come crashing in on the fifth anniversary of the crime.

On November 6, Fox News reported that two BSO deputies had been fatally shot during a routine traffic stop. One of the suspects was Devon Ingraham, the man whom witnesses said had argued with Marissa the night she was killed.

Ingraham and two other Bahamians were arrested without incident at 4 a.m. in Dania Beach the day following the shooting and charged with the deputy's murder.

But Ingraham shed no light on Marissa's case, so Gary headed to the Bahamas in search of Coakley. He spent eight days in Nassau. The Bahamian government fronted the airfare and put him up at the Wyndham Nassau Resort. At the airport, he was met by officers from the Royal Bahamas Police, who provided an escort.

At the Wyndham, he held a news conference, where about a dozen members of the local media listened to Marissa's story. Gary held up 36-by-24-inch photographs of Coakley.

The trip culminated in a phone call. Bahamian police found the man who had been paralyzed in the Sunrise triple shooting. He said he could identify his assailant. Gary figured this information might prove important to linking this crime to his daughter's murder.

But when he presented this evidence to cops back home, no one seemed interested. "Nothing was ever really followed up on," Gary says bluntly. "Nobody wanted to go to the Bahamas to do this the way it should have been done."

On a quiet weekday between Christmas and New Year's, Gary Karp walks the halls of BSO's Criminal Investigation Division, pleasantly chatting up the few cops stuck at their desks while the rest of the office is out.

Even though he's dapper in a dress shirt and dark pants, he seems to carry more mileage than the average 58-year-old. A stroke last summer has slowed him, and his mind — once armed with a total recall of Marissa's case — now struggles to pull up certain details.

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson