Saturday, 11 October 2014

The World of Health Spa Murders

Miami, Florida has some of the plushest and most expensive clubs, restaurants, hotels and boats in the world.  It is a mecca for wealthy people, the cocaine capital of America, and some of the highest murder rates in the world.  This triple murder happened Sunday 23rd July 1978.  The owner of the World of Health Spa on Sixth Avenue, John Mitchell, had not arrived home, so his wife contacted his father to go and see if he was still at work.  He was not to know that he would walk into a scene of horror.  Just inside the club, he found 33 year old John, shot to death.  He immediately called Police, who did a sweep of the club.  They found a young woman, naked, with her clothes strewn around, shot to death in a hallway.  Then they came upon the body of a fully clothed woman in one of the whirlpool baths.  She too, had been shot to death.

    Linda Mitchell arrived at the scene, to be met by Steve Beattie, a friend of John`s.  They could not fathom the motive.  Robbery?   The manager`s office had been ransacked, but that could have been a smokescreen.  John Mitchell had owned massage parlours in Fort Lauderdale, but these were legitimately run and had no connection to the sex trade.  The two women were 18 year old Patricia Beck & 34 year old Carol Raduazzo.  They were part of the Spa`s cleaning team.  One forensics officer, Eddie Stone, tried out a technique they were developing, in which it could be possible to lift a fingerprint from a body.  He had no success with John or Carol but he struck gold with Patricia.  He lifted a print from a calf.  This was sent to the fingerprint laboratory, and a couple of days later, they had a hit.  But to be certain, they sent it to the FBI.  They confirmed the identification.  The print belonged to Steve Beattie.  He went into the station for routine questioning, but after a lengthy interview, he was charged with three counts of murder.  He denied all against him and gave an alibi witness who corroborated much of his story.  Brought in for questioning, this witness was released as there was nothing forensically to link him to it, but there was no corroboration beyond the two, so he was suspected of being an accomplice.  This man immediately left the country.  (nothing to be afraid of was there!)  Beattie gave two accounts of his movements at the club that day. Some small traces of blood and skin were found on sandals in Beattie`s home, the same blood type of Patricia, but this was long before DNA.  Then Police discovered that Beattie and Mitchell had taken life insurance policies out on each other for $100,000.  Beattie had run a martial arts studio in the back of the Spa, but half of the studio belonged to Mitchell.

    Beattie went on trial in December 1978, but his lawyers could not persuade his friend to come back and testify on Beattie`s behalf.  (I wonder why?)  He was convicted and given three death sentences.  In court, he embraced the death sentences, but later had a change of heart when incarcerated on Death Row.  He applied for a new trial but this was rejected.  So he committed suicide by having sleeping pills smuggled into his cell and taking an overdose.  The date was August 9th 1981.  So who was Steve Beattie?

    He was born in Scotland, and aged seven, his family emigrated to Canada.  The son of a professional boxer, he and his brothers grew up tough.  One even became a World Champion in the 1950`s.  Another went into politics.  Steve Beattie went crooked. He was jailed in the early 60`s for car theft, and after release, he moved to Florida.  He had taken up Karate as a teen and held a black belt 5th Dan by the time he was 20.  He won the state Karate championship for three years.  But he had a passion for mindless violence, becoming a notorious doorman and provoking fights, particularly with weaker people.  ( In honesty, most would be weaker than a man like him)  He liked to think of himself as the toughest guy in the state.  He faced numerous charges of aggravated assault, and on one occasion, rape.  But the complainants would not testify in court, but he was clearly on the Police radar.  He was a man who made many enemies, very quickly.  His fellow Karate instructors did not like him very much as well.  In short, he was becoming the city bully.  But he was not so tough when put in his cell on Death Row.  

    Police believed Mitchell was killed for the insurance, and Carol & Patricia were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Another mystery was the stripping of Patricia, as she was not sexually assaulted, as such a scene would normally indicate.  Was it a power play?  Not content with murdering her, he had to rob a young woman of her dignity?  Beattie never said why.  But at least he is not around anymore.