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COPS: Professional boxer was serial killer in the 80s

1:03 AM, Dec 18, 2010   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - They were targeted, hunted and murdered.

And, each time, the killer would take their wedding rings.  A serial killer on the loose in the 80s was murdering elderly women all over Florida.

Two of his cases were four days apart in Pinellas County in February 1987.

Detective Michael Bailey from the Pinellas Cold Cast Homicide Unit says, "You have to be a pretty sick individual to do something like this, there's no question about that."

They were two women who never met.

But, they were actually closer than ever and forever connected.  Their lives would go down in history as two violent serial killer murders.

Detective Bailey says, "Each one of these ladies lived alone, previously married, obviously."

That was one of the reasons they were targeted.

The similarities between Opal Weil and Eleanor Swift are uncanny.  The two women, both in their 80s, lived by themselves in Pinellas County, not too far from one another.

They even had similar homes.

Detectve Bailey describes their homes.  "They were built in 1960s-style houses, concrete block with an attached Forida room in back."

In February 1987, they were both suffocated and strangled.  Their bodies were found still in their pajamas.

And what seemed odd is that the murders happened just four days apart.

Detectives say it was most likely done by the same man in the same way because, each time, he would take their wedding bands.

"It's probaby a trophy, not too much value to it, not a high-end ring like that. Robbery was not the motive. It was some type of trophy," says Detective Bailey.

Also, in each case, the killer would come in through the back door and grab a pillow from the living room to use as the murder weapon.

In one crime scene photo, you can actually see the killer's handprints on the carpet where he crawled to the couch.

Strangely enough, detectives most likely spoke with the killer face to face while doing more than 100 interviews with people in the neighborhoood, never knowing they had their man the entire time.

Turns out, investigators say, the killer lived across the street.

His name, detectives say, was Roberto Medina.

In a strange and unbelievable twist, Medina was also a well-known professional boxer in the 80s.

No one had any way of knowing that he had a dark side.  Detectives believe he was a serial killer.

"He knew exactly that they lived alone. It was not a random act.  He knew about them before getting into the house," Detective Bailey says.

Medina is already in prison for a similar case where detectives say, six months after the murders of Opal and Eleanor, he was convicted of raping an elderly woman and tried to strangle her, but she didn't die.

In his signature move, he also took her wedding ring.

"There's just no way to know what's in his mind at the time," Detective Bailey told 10 News.

Now, investigators want to find anyone who knows Roberto Medina and his connection to Opal Weil and Eleanor Swift - two women who were living in paradise in their twilight years whose stories remain a cold case. 

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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