Stephen Febonio's parents may not feel like they have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Stephen's 76-year-old father, Edwin, who lives in Boynton Beach with his wife, Margaret, is a retired police detective from Peabody, Massachusetts. But instead of upholding the law, Febonio's two sons have tangled with it again and again. Now these aging parents are facing a new year with one son dead and the other looking at a possible 25-year prison sentence.
On March 16 of this year, Stephen Febonio's body was found in a locked freezer buried on land occupied by a Delray Beach marijuana grow house. Stephen, 45, had been missing for two years, since August 2007. He was allegedly shot in the head by a grow-house accomplice over an unpaid $10,000 debt.
And just this past September, the Febonios' younger son, Bryan, 41, who has had a history of drug abuse and served felony prison time, was charged with armed, masked robbery of a bank in Peabody -- a charge that could carry a prison term of 25 years if he is convicted.
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Stephen had been running with a bad crowd. Two years before his disappearance, he'd been arrested and charged with two felony counts of assault and battery after a dust-up on Key West's Duval Street.
At the time of his disappearance, he was allegedly involved in building marijuana grow houses with his friend Jose Alfaro. Before he left home the night of his murder, he told his father that if he didn't come back to search for a note in the bedroom of the Boynton Beach house he shared with his parents. He never returned.
Jose Alfaro, of Deerfield Beach, was indicted and extradited back to Florida from New York this month. He was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on December 3 on charges of premeditated murder. Alfaro allegedly bragged about Febonio's murder to acquaintances, according to PBSO Det. Sean Oliver.
But there might be one piece of good news for the Febonios this year: Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Brian Silber, a former state prosecutor, has speculated on his blog that Alfaro's "big mouth" may make prosecution of this murder case a breeze. "Even with heresay there are exceptions where statements made by the party will be admissible," Silber told us by phone, adding that the friends Alfaro bragged to will likely be called to testify by prosecutors. "It's one of our frustrations as criminal defense lawyers that defendants don't always exercise their constitutional right to remain silent."