Bartender Henry Vidal’s Killer Still Unknown
Detective Ricky Libman, 59, of the Broward Sheriff’s Office has been working homicides for 15 years. He has been with the force for 32.
He is coordinating the investigation into the death of Henry Vidal, whose body was discovered in his Northeast 20th Street, Wilton Manors apartment two months ago.
The forensics analysis has been returned from the medical examiner. The toxicology reports confirm that drugs were found in Vidal’s system.
Initial police reports acknowledged that crystal methamphetamine was discovered on scene when Vidal’s body was discovered. Friends of the late Manors bartender acknowledged after his death that Vidal had struggled with drug use the past few years.
Libman noted however it was too soon to draw a conclusion from this. “We know that there were enough drugs in his system so that it could have affected him, but we can also tell there was someone in the house with him and there was a struggle and we know trauma was involved.”
“At this point, when or how it happened we can only guess,” Libman added, “but we have enough to convince us we have to move forward with a homicide investigation.” Over 50 persons have been interviewed.
“We are pleasantly surprised with the cooperation of the LGBT community,” Libman told SFGN this week. “Many times when investigating murders you run into roadblocks. But in this specific case we have found his employers, fellow employees, and friends tremendously cooperative.”
Libman noted that Vidal’s friends and colleagues are “are coming forward and providing us with willing interviews, DNA samples, fingerprints and leads.” The process clears and eliminates potential suspects. It isn’t always that easy.
Libman stated “Henry was a very popular person with many social interactions. We are tracking down numerous contacts through multiple websites.”
Given Vidal’s use of multiple online gay hook-up sites, BSO has had to subpoena all of his last contacts from a variety of sources. Libman indicated that some of the gay dating sites have been more responsive to BSO than the bigger, mainstream ones.
“With Google and Apple, we have to send out subpoenas, and all we may get back is an IP address. Then we have to create a subpoena to find out who owns that address. And for all we know, it could come back to a Starbuck’s.”
Libman admitted that tracking down the victim’s last known contacts through social media sites could be frustrating. “We can backtrack and find out that the person he last spoke to was never really using a real name. You can run around and wind up nowhere.”
But the 59-year-old detective has some advice for persons, gay or straight, using social media sites to hook up for sexual encounters.
“Anytime you bring a stranger to your house for any reason it’s dangerous. If you do it multiple times, you are simply upping the percentages,” Libman advised.
“It is not a public place,” he warned. “You are alone, and you don’t know the person. Whether it’s on Craiglist or Grindr, anonymous encounters can put you at risk. But it happens every day.”