Four years ago a popular local bartender, Henry Vidal, was found dead in his Wilton Manors apartment. His death was ruled a homicide. But now Vidal's mother has said a detective told her investigators are no longer certain of that conclusion — instead it may have been an accident.
Vidal's mother, Caridad "Cary" Labarta, 63, of Pembroke Pines, said Det. Mike Roque of the Broward Sheriff’s Office told her authorities are no longer certain Vidal, 32, was murdered.
But homicide hasn’t been ruled out yet.
Labarta said the detective told her that Vidal died of a spleen injury and that he could have fallen. Labarta also said Roque told her a second person's DNA was discovered inside the apartment, but no match could be found in any database.
"They are still investigating," Labarta said. She noted that she’s been in contact with Roque, the lead detective, a few times in the last year.
"This is hard. I want to know what happened," Labarta said. "I think the person got scared and left Henry to die. That's what I want to believe.”
Police had said previously that they were looking for a person of interest, but Labarta said that Roque has told her no one has been contacted or interviewed.
"They don't have any suspects," Labarta said.
While the investigation remains "active and ongoing," according to BSO Senior Public Information Officer Keyla Concepcion, the BSO said it will not release any information on the case at this time. When pressed that a detective has spoken at length to Vidal's mother, Concepcion said information coming from the mother was fine.
Vidal’s body was discovered by a co-worker in May 2015. His death was ruled a homicide after the medical examiner released details of the autopsy to authorities. Vidal was employed at the now closed B Bar on Wilton Drive. Prior to that, Vidal bartended at the Alibi.
"I believe there is more to the story," said Vidal's former partner, Evan Linette of Fort Lauderdale. "I have reached out several times to offer assistance. If authorities can keep pushing and dig deeper, continue to ask questions, get the community involved, maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Linette and Labarta remain close and speak often. Both are left wondering what happened.
"This is something I think about every day. Every day," said Linette, who spurred by this incident stepped away from bar managing to take a job as a behavioral health technician at American Addiction Centers. "Henry was my world. His death led me to a career change that I absolutely love.”
Labarta is grateful for a community that cares.
"I want to thank them," she said. "The community has supported me through this difficult time. I'm just hoping to have closure."
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