The House That Bill Built

Page 5 of 7

David had volunteered to paint the cabin of his father's sailboat on the following day, December 26, and he was still working on it when darkness fell. He went to visit an old buddy from high school, and they drove downtown to catch a showing of the movie Scream. They hung out for another hour until David decided to head home. He parked his red Acura in the long gravel driveway and walked up to the house, the palm trees glistening in the cold rain. It was almost midnight.

"It was unusually quiet," he remembers noticing. "So I was happy, because Margaret was always up making noise, with the TV blaring or with her snoring. But it was really quiet. I didn't think much of it. I got ready for bed; I remember it was about 12:30. I went to bed, lay down — and got my head blown up."

Don Wilkin remembers it being so wet and chilly that night that all the windows were closed, though he still woke to the sound of gunshots. "I said to my wife, 'Did you hear something?' She thought she'd been dreaming. I figured it was just the city and the time of the year," he says now. Between Christmas and New Year's celebrations, gunfire wasn't uncommon in Sailboat Bend.

The next morning, Friday the 27th, was still a seasonal slow period, but Wilkin was nonetheless due at work. He knew Bill would be there too. "Bill was a prompt guy who liked to get into the office early, holiday or no." By 8:30 a.m., Wilkin figured, his boss would probably be in the office waiting for him. So when he spotted Bigoney's Toyota van still in his driveway at 9:30, he chuckled.

"I thought, 'Ah, I'll go roust him,'" Wilkin recalls with a smile. "I didn't even shut the car off; I just put it in gear." He walked up the ramp to the Bigoneys' front door.

"And," he says, "that's as far as I got."

"She's totally insane! She's heavily medicated!" Sharon can be heard shouting on the 911 call made seconds later from the Wilkin home. "What sticks in my mind was seeing the blood dripping on the outside of the house under the window where Mr. Bigoney's head was," says Sgt. Tim Bronson, among the first on the scene. "Obviously, something was wrong when we saw that."

Police could see Bill Bigoney lying partially outside the bedroom, jutting onto the small, screened-in deck. They could also see a body inside on a bed — and they saw it move. "We didn't know what we were going into — did we have a suspect in there?" recalls Bronson, who nearly called in a SWAT team. He and two officers kicked in the door and secured each room. David was on a big, blood-soaked bed in the master bedroom, close-range gunshot wounds to his face and hand. Bill lay dead next to the bed with a single entrance wound through his left eyebrow.

Margaret was found in the closet, sprawled on the floor, surrounded by bottles of pills. She clutched a handwritten note that read, "I can no longer take the physical and mental abuse from my husband and his son please God forgive me."

David couldn't tell police anything. "He was barely alive," Bronson says. Another detective tried to question him a few hours later at Broward General Medical Center. "David was not cognizant of where he was," the report states. "He felt that he had fallen and mentioned something about an ice palace."

From the trail of blood, investigators surmised that David had somehow managed to make it from his bedroom to his father's side, despite his condition. A supplemental crime scene report concludes that despite his injuries, David may have "attempted to move William." As to what really happened, David says pointedly, "I have no recollection of that whatsoever."

"I have no recollection of that whatsoever," he repeats, each word guarded by a don't-go-there shield. "The next thing I remember is waking up to the sound of my neurosurgeon's voice asking me if I knew my name, which I did. If I knew where I was, which I did not. And he asked me if I knew what happened to me. I said no. He proceeded to tell me that I'd been shot in the head and my right hand, that my father was shot and killed, and the person who did this was my stepmother.

"He wanted to see what kind of reaction he was going to get," David continues, "and he didn't get much of one. So that was that." Remaining bitterness, he explains, is really "the anger I harbor about not being as completely independent as I can be."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton