Thursday, June 02, 2011

Miami, It's Murder...a classic Edna Buchanan crime story

Probably one of the more bizarre tales legendary Miami Herald crime reporter Edna Buchanan included  in her 1987 crime classic, The Corpse Had a Familiar Face, was a story of a particularly gruesome murder - even by Miami standards - that took place in March, 1985.

The story, and others, helped her win the Pulitzer Prize for crime reporting in 1986.

Sunday, March 3, 1985
by EDNA BUCHANAN Herald Staff Writer

A naked man carrying the severed head of a woman was found leaning against a Metrorail support at dawn Saturday in a quiet southwest Miami neighborhood.

The man twice hurled the woman's head at the young police officer who approached him.

"I killed her. She's the devil!" the man shouted.

"There is no end to the bizarreness of this world," veteran Miami Homicide Sgt. Mike Gonzalez said later.

"This is something not likely to happen to any policeman again in 100 years."

Dina Tormos, 18, had been stabbed "many" times with a large hunting type knife, which also was used to cut off her head, police said.

The rest of the murdered woman's body was found in the

suspect's apartment, several blocks from where he was arrested at Southwest 33rd Avenue and 29th Terrace, just off U.S. 1.

The suspect, Alberto Mesa, 23, was charged with first- degree murder. Hysterical and distraught, he was taken to the prison ward at Jackson Memorial Hospital and sedated.

Police said Mesa, of 2798 SW 33rd Ave., had no apparent history of mental illness or prior problems with police. Relatives did tell Homicide Detective Earl Washington and Sgt. Gonzalez that Mesa had "recently expressed an unusual interest in religion." They did not specify the religion.

Shocked family members said they last saw Mesa at 2 a.m. Nothing appeared wrong, they said.

A roommate of the dead woman told police she last saw the victim on Friday. Nothing appeared wrong, she said. Tormos, she said, had been dating Mesa for about six months.

The woman, found clad only in a T-shirt and bikini panties, was killed and her body left in a hallway inside the otherwise orderly apartment, police said.

The couple "may have been having a conflict over his interest in religion," Gonzalez said.

Carrying the severed head by the hair, in his right hand, Mesa walked to the home of a brother, at 3375 SW 29th Ter., and said he had killed someone. His relatives did not see the head, but called police because, they said, he was acting strangely.

It was 6:30 a.m. Officer Derek Aycarte, 22, arrived in his patrol car, to investigate a possible assault. He saw Mesa and what he was carrying.

Mesa shouted at the officer and hurled the head. Officer Aycarte jumped out of the way. "This is an extraordinary thing for any young officer to encounter," Gonzalez said. "He tried to calm the man, who was naked, bloody and violent. He stayed calm."


  1. Who could forget this Miami classic? Thanks for the memories.

  2. They would have kiled him had this happened today.

  3. I remember it as I saw it. I lived in a little house on Bird Avenue in the Grove (other side of US1) and there he was in the middle of the night standing by the metrorail holding her head by the hair. It was the lighting that gave it real effects. Then there were sirens and police lights everywhere - seemed like hundreds.

  4. She was my sister

  5. I had seen him a couple of nights before, he happened to be my friend. We grew up together went to the same school, and we lived just a couple of blocks from each other. He was a musician and we used to play guitar together all the time. I would have never in a million years thought he would have done that though. It came as a huge shock to me and my mom who knew him, when we saw that on the news a couple of days after being there at his apartment with him playing guitar together. He never gave me any incling at all that anything was wrong, and I never even met the girl and he never mentioned her not once. Life is most definetly weird.


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