On the day Ada Cox Jankowski's body was found near Miramar Elementary School nearly 30 years ago, police questioned the last person seen with her while she was alive.
Anthony Martinez, 17, was seen leaving the Miramar Lounge with the 58-year-old woman, but denied they had anything but the briefest of conversations. His sworn statement contradicted those given by the bartender and half dozen customers who were at the bar in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 1983.
It would be another Anthony who would take the blame and serve the time for Jankowski's death. Police honed in on Anthony Caravella, a mentally challenged 15-year-old with an IQ of 67, and extracted a confession.
Before DNA cleared him in 2009, Caravella, now 44, served nearly 26 years in prison for Jankowski's rape and murder. He is suing Miramar police, the Broward Sheriff's Office and several former police officers, saying they coerced him into a false confession, which led to a wrongful conviction.
One of the defendants, former Miramar Detective Bill Guess spent the better part of six hours Wednesday under questioning by Caravella's attorney, Barbara Heyer, in the civil trial in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
Guess denied telling the Sun Sentinel in November 2001 that he was long "concerned that [Caravella] might have confessed to something he didn't do" and "there was another person who ... was a lot more reasonable suspect than [Caravella]."
Guess testified Wednesday that he believed Anthony Martinez "could have been involved" in the murder.
By all accounts, Jankowski was drunk, flirtatious and rowdy that night and there were strong sexual overtones between her and Martinez before their 3 a.m. departure.
Heyer had Guess, on the witness stand, read aloud from sworn statements taken in the days after Jankowski's body was discovered.
One customer said Jankowski and Martinez slow danced and he seemed unbothered when she grabbed his penis. Someone else said the pair was overheard planning to meet for sex behind a nearby Publix.
The bartender said Jankowski remarked what a cute "young thing" Martinez was and that she would be willing to pay him for sexual favors.
All swore the two left together.
But Martinez told police he only had a three- to four-minute conversation with Jankowski and picked up her purse when it fell.
"She said that I needed a girl for me," Martinez said in his sworn statement, read in court by Guess. "She kept going up all over the guys. She was grabbing their asses. She did it to me and the guy with the mustache that I was playing pool with."
Martinez said they left at the same time but not together.
The next morning about 9:30 a.m., a Boy Scout discovered Jankowski's dirt-, grass- and blood-stained body. Her underwear and slacks were bunched around her right ankle and she had been stabbed multiple times in the vaginal area, torso and legs. There were several parallel slash marks across her throat.
The DNA testing that freed Caravella led prosecutors and police to name Martinez a "person of interest" or suspect in September 2010. Soon after, Martinez died of natural causes at age 44 in New York.
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