Muscles, Murder, and a Messiah | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Muscles, Murder, and a Messiah

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But Fernandez's crimes didn't wash away with his sins.

About six months after his apparent conversion, BSO detectives — or "those assholes from BSO," as Fernandez called them after his arrest — had narrowed their murder investigation. They believed Fernandez was the triggerman who executed three people in the Everglades.

In the summer of 1990, detectives confronted Dwight Allen, pastor of Miramar Church of God, where Fernandez attended and volunteered. Fernandez was a murder suspect, they told Allen.

The pastor asked Fernandez about the allegation one night in the parking lot.

"He told me he had done a lot of things wrong," Allen recalled in court. "He did not name specific things that he had done wrong in his past, but he said he had done a lot of things wrong... He mentioned drug use, steroids, things of that nature. But he did say the only thing he had not done was get involved in child pornography and murder."

Allen pressed Fernandez.

"What are you going to do when this comes down?" he asked.

"I'm just going to keep serving God," Fernandez answered.

On July 3, 1990, the phone rang at Fernandez's home in Pembroke Pines. He answered and knew immediately that his time had come.

"Phone rang, and they hung up," Fernandez says. "That's the oldest trick in the book."

Fernandez walked outside and started his car. He thought he might as well try to drive to the Apollo Gym, which he'd recently redecorated with pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. He headed east on Pines Boulevard. A helicopter flew overhead, monitoring him. Police cruisers filed in behind. They included officers and detectives from BSO and the Miami-Dade police. The cruisers' lights flashed as Fernandez neared University Drive. He pulled to the side of the road. The officers drew their weapons. Fernandez stepped out and surrendered.

Miami-Dade Homicide Detective Pat Diaz, the same man who once served in uniform with Fernandez, took him into custody. He remembers that day vividly. "I say it how it is," Diaz says. "This ain't movie stuff where you go into a room and talk about what happened. I spelled it out. I said, 'Gil, the game's up. You're looking at three murders. '"

Fernandez became angry and emotional. "The only thing I ever wanted to be was a good cop," Fernandez told Diaz. "I never took a dime from a person while on the police force, and the only thing I was guilty of is doing my job... Those people you work with drove me out of police work, and I'm hoping that they're happy now."

Diaz stared at him. "The game's up," he repeated.

"I'm in God's hands," Fernandez said. "God will forgive me for everything I have done."

Next week: For Fernandez, killing three men in the Everglades was only the beginning. Police believe he killed as many as six other people. But now, the professed man of God is resisting the chance to confess his sins.

For the second part of this series, see New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

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Trevor Aaronson
Contact: Trevor Aaronson

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