The Boca Raton Town Center Mall Kidnappings, Robberies and Murders

On August 7, 2007, a woman and her 2-year-old son were carjacked and kidnapped at gunpoint from the Boca Raton Town Center Mall. They were forced to drive to an ATM and withdraw $600. The robber placed blacked-out swim goggles over her eyes, handcuffed her and placed plastic zip ties around her ankles.  A plastic zip tie was put around her neck to fasten her head to the car seat head rest.  The victim was driving a black SUV.

According to his employee records, Boca Raton Detective Juan Pijuan was the investigator on that kidnapping and robbery case. It was reported, through media sources, that Detective Pijuan originally questioned the validity of the mother’s claim that she and her son were abducted.

Her family members were indignant at Boca Raton police, claiming investigators should have made more of an effort, initially, to investigate the crimes and publicize the abduction and robbery. Detective Pijuan doubted her story because she was not able to convince him that she was able to get herself out of the restraints. The morning after the August 7, 2007, kidnapping and robbery, Boca Raton police issued a one paragraph press release with no mention of the goggles and no mention of the victims being bound or being taken from the Boca Town Center Mall.
Three days later, on August 10, 2007, a woman walking alone to her car, parked in the Boca Raton Mizner Park parking garage, was accosted. The woman was confronted next to her car by an armed man who, at gunpoint, demanded that she take him to an ATM. The victim refused but gave him $200, then escaped.

Two armed robberies reported in Boca Raton within three days of each other. Both women were accosted at gunpoint next to their cars in the parking garage of an upscale mall and ordered to drive to an ATM.

Did Detective Pijuan fail to notice the similarities between the August 10 incident and the one he so easily dismissed that occurred three days earlier?  Did it not occur to Detective Pijuan that the similarities between the August 10 and August 7  incidents now lent some credibility to the victim’s story he questioned? Was it not apparent to Detective Pijuan that these types of crimes do not regularly occur in Boca Raton and may have been committed by the same perpetrator?

Four months later, on December 12, 2007, Nancy Bochicchio and her daughter, Joey, who was four days away from her eighth birthday, were carjacked and kidnapped from the Boca Raton Town Center Mall. They were forced to drive to a nearby ATM and withdraw $500. After returning to the mall, they were bound with handcuffs. A plastic zip tie was wrapped around Nancy’s neck securing her head to the car seat head rest.  Both Nancy and her daughter Joey were left dead in their black SUV; both shot in the head at point blank range.  Police reported that a pair of blacked-out swim goggles were used.

After the Bochicchio murders, there was a storm of criticism of the Boca Raton Police Department.  If they’d only known of the August kidnapping and robberies, Nancy and Joey may never have gone to the mall that day.

Had Detective Pijuan only taken seriously the mother who was kidnapped and robbed on August 7 and conducted a thorough investigation, there would not have been a false sense of security.  Instead, as Detective Pijuan has been praised for his “swift” resolution of Jacob’s murder, he “swiftly” closed his investigation of the August 7 kidnapping and robbery determining no follow up investigation was necessary. 

Even if Pijuan had substantiated and properly investigated the August 7 2007, abduction and robbery, there are no guarantees that the case would have been solved, but there would have been public awareness of a possible threat and increased security at the malls.

Detective Pijuan’s inability, or lack of willingness to conduct a proper investigation of the August 7, 2007 abduction and robbery, and the August 10, 2007 attempted abduction and robbery, is hauntingly similar to his inability, or lack of willingness, to properly investigate the murder of Jacob Zweig. Moreover, what is eerily similar is Detective Pijuan’s technique of blaming the victim in order to bring cases to a “swift” resolution.  A resolution that also conveniently leaves the appearance that Boca Raton is crime free.

As with his ability to close the August 7 case by casting doubt on the victim’s story and effectively “blaming the victim,” likewise in the Jacob Zweig case, Detective Pijuan took an otherwise clear case of murder and, by demonizing Jacob, twisted it into a case of self-defense.  Once again, to conceal Jacob’s murder, Detective Pijuan used his neat trick of “blaming the victim.”  Jacob was killed in November 2008.  Had it not been for Jacob’s killing, Boca Raton would have been murder free for the year.  Detective Pijuan made sure Boca Raton would remain murder free that year.  So, instead of charging murder, he suppressed any evidence of murder, and labeled the crime a case of self-defense.  Boca Raton finishes out the year murder free and a killer walks among us.

Click here to view an ABC Dateline segment on the 2007 abductions, robberies and murders that occurred in Boca Raton.


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