'The Missing Piece:' Unraveling mystery of Boca Raton mall murders 17 years later

3 separate attacks tied to Town Center at Boca Raton in 2007 left 3 dead, another emotionally scarred
Posted at 9:45 AM, May 23, 2024

If you say the names Randi Gorenberg or Nancy and Joey Bochicchio to anyone who's lived in Boca Raton for a long time, you will likely see them think back and start to remember tragic events from 2007. That's been my experience each time we've talked with someone for the purposes of a documentary about the 2007 fatal attacks tied to the Town Center at Boca Raton.

There are three incidents spanning about nine months chronicled in the WPTV documentary "The Missing Piece." All three crimes involve mothers who were shopping at the busy, high-end mall in the middle of the day.

March 23, 2007

Randi Gorenberg was the victim of the March 23, 2007, attack.

Her mother, Idey Elias, paints a beautiful picture of Gorenberg and her legacy in one of the most memorable interviews in my 20 years as a journalist.

"Randi loved to hike in the woods. She loved Mother Nature," Elias said. "She had that wonderful feeling of warmth about her, and she made everybody else feel that way about her, too."


'The Missing Piece' Part 1: Randi Gorenberg

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Detective William Springer is the lead cold case investigator on the Gorenberg case. He described her day on March 23, 2007.

"She was at home, and we know she went to the mall," Springer said. "She bought a John Legend CD and a top at a store. We have her walking out of the mall around 1:15 in the afternoon."

The view on the mall surveillance video is the last time anyone saw Gorenberg alive. No one knows exactly what happened next.

Springer believes Gorenberg might have been driven to an ATM.

"If he went to take Randi to the bank, it's not going to do him any good. She has no debit card," Springer said.


'The Missing Piece' Part 5: 'There's quite a bit of DNA'

"Could that have been a huge point of frustration when Randi didn't have an ATM card?" I asked Springer.

"I would think it would be," Springer said. "He probably did not believe her. She has a high-end car – Mercedes SUV. She's dressed in nice clothes. She has a nice pocketbook. Why wouldn't she have a debit card?"

About 45 minutes after Gorenberg is seen on surveillance video exiting the mall, Springer said someone called 911 from a park about five miles from the mall and claimed hearing gunshots and seeing someone being pushed out of a vehicle.

March 23, 2007 surveillance video of Randi Gorenberg leaving Town Center at Boca Raton
Surveillance video from March 23, 2007, shows Randi Gorenberg leaving the Town Center at Boca Raton. It's the last known image of Gorenberg alive.

"I believe that she was trying to get out," Springer said.

Springer said there is no indication Gorenberg was tied up or bound in any way.

After her body was left at Governor Lawton Chiles Memorial Park, there is surveillance video of Gorenberg's SUV pulling into a hardware store about two miles from the park, without a glimpse of who was behind the wheel.

"It's so unbelievable, isn't it? That no one saw anything," Elias said. "That's why we do this. Maybe we can jog somebody's memory."

surveillance video shows Randi Gorenberg's Mercedes-Benz SUV pulling into hardware store about 2 miles from where her body was found
Surveillance video from March 23, 2007, shows Randi Gorenberg's Mercedes-Benz SUV pulling into a hardware store about two miles from where her body was found.

Elias said she came home that day and watched the news about deputies finding a woman's body. Soon after, she received a phone call that changed her life forever.

"It's very hard to lose a child," Elias said. "I think it's the hardest thing in the world."

Elias called it the "worst, worst, worst day" of her life.

"I really feel bad for Idey," Springer said about what keeps him up at night with this case. "I've lived a blessed life. I've lived a great life. I've been able to enjoy my kids, my grandkids, and Idey never got that."

On the very day Gorenberg was killed, Elias told me she was comforting a woman whose daughter had just died of an illness. Elias said she never could have imagined she'd be in the same shoes in just a matter of hours and feeling the immense pain of losing a child.

"In my mind, Randi is away. She's not gone," Elias said. "She's just away, and one day, you know, she'll come bouncing back like she always would, (saying), 'Hi mom.'"

Aug. 7, 2007

About five months after Gorenberg was killed, there was a strikingly similar crime at the Town Center at Boca Raton, but this time a mother and her young son survived to talk about the terrifying ordeal.

Retired FBI Special Agent John MacVeigh described the chain of events on Aug. 7, 2007, with the victim being referred to as Jane Doe. MacVeigh has interviewed Jane Doe multiple times over the years.

"Jane Doe went to Boca Town Center mall to do some shopping with her 2-year-old son in August, you know, just like any other day you'd go shopping," MacVeigh said.

Jane Doe, Town Center at Boca Raton attempted abduction from August 2007
Jane Doe and her young son survived an attempted abduction after leaving the Town Center at Boca Raton in August 2007.

MacVeigh described how a suspect slipped into Jane Doe's vehicle after she exited the mall with her son.

"She puts her son in the back, rear passenger-side seat. She then goes to the trunk and puts the packages in, along with the stroller, and in the few seconds it took her to walk from the back of the truck to the driver’s side door, the suspect, knowing that the door was unlocked, jumped into the car," MacVeigh said. "So, when Jane Doe went to get into the driver's side, she looked back and saw the suspect with a gun ordering her into the car."

MacVeigh said Jane Doe never saw the man get inside.

"Clearly, the suspect had been watching her," he said.

For about the next 45 minutes, as Jane Doe described to MacVeigh, the suspect took Jane Doe and her son on a ride all over the place and got lost at times. He forced Jane Doe to drive to ATMs, but her account was running low.

retired FBI Special Agent John MacVeigh describes Jane Doe's account of 2007 abduction from Town Center at Boca Raton
Retired FBI Special Agent John MacVeigh describes Jane Doe's account of her Aug. 7, 2007, abduction from the Town Center at Boca Raton.

"Jane Doe was suspicious, said, 'Well, I don't think this is going to work,' but she actually said that she was extremely surprised when she punched in $200 and out came $200, and then he made her do it two more times," MacVeigh said.

Jane Doe was then ordered to drive to a parking lot at a hotel, according to MacVeigh, where she was bound and blindfolded before the suspect got behind the wheel to drive.

"She said she was praying the whole time that a trooper would pull them over," MacVeigh said. "All the while, her son, who had not been restrained or wasn't blindfolded or anything like that, was crying, was upset. It appeared that the suspect did have some compassion for the child where he was explaining to Jane Doe, you know, 'Do we need to give him some water or a bottle?' And she's like, 'No, no. He's OK.'"


'The Missing Piece' Part 2: Jane Doe

The suspect drove them up and down the interstate and eventually back to the mall. He took Jane Doe's driver's license, according to MacVeigh, and left. The mother and son were physically unharmed, but Jane Doe was still in the back seat with her hands bound behind her back.

"She actually took her hands underneath her feet," MacVeigh said as he described how Jane Doe got herself into a position to drive and ask for help. "She actually referenced it to being a yoga person, and so she took her hands from behind her back and went up under her feet and around."

MacVeigh said because of the remarkable nature of Jane Doe's movements, it was not believed by officers when they arrived at the mall.

Dec. 12, 2007


There were three cases in 2007 with ties to the Town Center at Boca Raton.

The first was in March when Gorenberg was killed after a day of shopping. The second case gripped the community in August when a mother and her young son survived an abduction from the mall and the terrifying ride that followed.

Nancy Bochicchio of Boca Raton and her daughter Joey, who was almost 8 years old at the time, went shopping for a gift card at the mall on Dec. 12, 2007, as described by JoAnn Bruno, the sister of Nancy Bochicchio.

Nancy and Joey Bochicchio smile in framed photograph at sister JoAnn Bruno's home
A smiling Nancy and Joey Bochicchio pose for a photograph that Nancy's sister has framed at her home. It's how JoAnn Bruno chooses to remember them after they were found tied up and shot to death outside the Town Center at Boca Raton on Dec. 12, 2007.

"I was still on the phone with her when she got out of the car to walk into the mall, and that was our last conversation," Bruno said.

She never showed up for dinner that night, Bruno recalled.

"No one knew why," Bruno said. "I kept calling her. My kids kept calling her."


'The Missing Piece' Part 3: Nancy and Joey Bochicchio

Investigators with the Boca Raton Police Department believe the mother and daughter were abducted from the mall in the afternoon hours and taken to an ATM to withdraw money. Shortly before midnight, a mall security guard found Bochicchio's SUV idling in the parking lot. Both Nancy and Joey had been tied up and shot.

"They sat there for close to eight hours, nine hours in that car before they were even found," MacVeigh said. "You know, we don't know if he stayed, if he came back. I mean, he might have. He might have come back to see if they were found."

Police said Nancy and Joey Bochicchio were bound with duct tape, plastic ties, handcuffs and goggles.

SUV in parking lot of Town Center at Boca Raton, where Nancy and Joey Bochicchio were found dead
The bodies of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio were found bound and shot in their SUV in the parking lot of the Town Center at Boca Raton on Dec. 12, 2007, in Boca Raton, Fla.

"I'm driven by this case because anyone who could shoot a 7-year-old girl in the face and her mother is dangerous, beyond dangerous, sociopath killer, hunter of women, and I'd like to see this guy caught," John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted," said.

He's profiled the Bochicchio case and others from 2007 connected to the mall on his show several times.

"Everybody would like to see this guy caught," Walsh said.

As time passes, it's harder for Bruno to believe that her sister and niece's killer will be caught.

"Every year it gets harder to keep the hope, but I do because I know the police are still working on it," Bruno said.

JoAnn Bruno looks at picture of her with Nancy and Joey Bochicchio
JoAnn Bruno looks at a picture of her, sister Nancy Bochicchio and niece Joey Bochicchio. "This day was good," she says.

For retired Boca Raton police Capt. Matt Duggan, it's a crime he refuses to forget.

"This case affected me," Duggan said. "It affected everyone who worked on it."

So much so that he kept a photo of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio at his desk.

"I'd like to think I had a good career," he said. "I'd like to think we put some bad guys away and worked some big cases, but it's not fulfilled, not complete."

Then there's Bruno, who still has an unfulfilled promise to keep.

"My husband and I both promised her before we came to meet her, we'd find this guy," Bruno said. "That's what I think every day, and I say to the police, you know, I need them to catch him. I feel that as a mother, I know my sister, the kind of mother she was, she's not at peace. I just pray to God that at least someday I can meet her and tell her, 'They got him, and he's paying.'"

3 crimes, 1 killer?

There are several questions with no definitive answers when considering three incidents from 2007 with ties to the Town Center at Boca Raton – one of them being, is it the dark and sinister work of one killer?

We spoke with multiple law enforcement officials to dissect that question for the WPTV documentary "The Missing Piece."

"Are they all three connected? There's a possibility," Springer said. "I mean, you look at the odds of, what's the possibility of three people being taken from the mall in the same year?"

Springer is the lead detective in the Randi Gorenberg case from March 2007.

"You have to keep an open mind," Springer said. "When you're working a homicide, you never get tunnel vision."

For Springer, it's hard to overlook the similarities.

Ashley Glass speaks with Detective William Springer about 2007 crimes at Town Center at Boca Raton
WPTV's Ashley Glass speaks with Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office Detective William Springer about the possibility that all three crimes from 2007 with ties to the Town Center at Boca Raton are connected.

"The one I keep coming back to is that they're all three connected, that whoever was doing it had picked the Town Center mall as a place where there's a great hunting ground for victims," Springer said when asked about his prevailing theory. "If you want to look at similarities, there was no apparent sexual assault or attempted sexual battery of any of the victims."

There was one difference when it came to the Gorenberg case. Unlike the August abduction of Jane Doe and the December killings of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio, Gorenberg was not restrained.

"Randi could have been just a learning experience," Springer said. "Maybe he had everything set to do that and then it fell through. So, then he thought, 'Well if I take a woman with a little child, I can control them a lot easier than I could a single woman who's probably going to fight.'"

Retired FBI Special Agent John MacVeigh investigated the three cases and believes all three are connected to one killer.

"Yes, because, you know, the coincidences are way too close," he said. "Nothing before has happened there and nothing after has happened there."

MacVeigh said he doesn't believe the attacks were about money.

Sketch of Bochicchio killer released by Boca Raton police
Police released this sketch of the person believed to be responsible for the 2007 killings of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio.

"I think the money was just a derivative, a benefit," he said. "I think it's more of a control (thing). You know, you have somebody who is taking the opportunity to control the women."

Springer also believes the motive is rooted in control.

"I still believe that, because to me, there's just not that much money," Springer said. "I mean, he went to a lot of work for a little bit of money."


'The Missing Piece' Part 4: What's the connection?

Boca Raton police Detective Scott Hanley agrees.

"Do I think the motive would have been just the cash? No," he said. "I think there was more to the suspect's planning and, you know, organization that was done on the case."

Why did it stop?

"If someone did something this heinous, cold they have fled? You know, that's a theory," Hanley said. "Could the person still be living in the area and just either changed their modus operandi as to how they're committing crimes? They could have stopped committing crimes. You know, there's a lot of different theories out there on where the suspect could be."

What has changed at Town Center at Boca Raton?

The estates of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio and Randi Gorenberg sued Simon Property Group, the owner of the Town Center at Boca Raton, for wrongful death.

Both lawsuits were filed in Palm Beach County. While the cases were filed separately, the allegations were similar.

The families, on behalf of their deceased loved ones, claimed Simon Property Group had a duty to protect visitors to the mall by providing adequate security services to address "the ongoing nature of the criminal activity at the premises," as the Gorenberg lawsuit worded it.

Lawsuit for Randi Gorenberg vs. Town Center at Boca Raton
The family of Randi Gorenberg filed a lawsuit against Simon Property Group after she was killed shortly after leaving the Town Center at Boca Raton in 2007.

Both lawsuits argued the deaths were foreseeable and preventable. Simon Property Group denied wrongdoing in its legal filings in both cases. In response to the Gorenberg complaint, Simon filed a cross-claim against the company that provided security services at the mall. The claim argued any liability found by the court should be placed on the security company, which refuted that claim in its legal filings.

Jane Doe also filed a lawsuit against Simon Property Group in Broward County, alleging negligence.

Like the other two lawsuits, Doe's claimed the mall owner should have been aware of any foreseeable danger on the premises and taken steps to protect them.

Town Center at Boca Raton sign, site of 3 crime cases in 2007
The Town Center at Boca Raton's owner, Simon Property Group, was sued after the deaths of Nancy and Joey Bochicchio and Randi Gorenberg and the abduction of Jane Doe in 2007.

Doe's complaint pointed to lasting physical and psychological injuries because of the kidnapping, stating "the injuries suffered by the plaintiff… are continuing in nature, she will continue in the future to suffer disease, pain, loss of earning, physical handicap, impairment, permanent injury, and will be further compelled to expend great sums for medical care and related treatment for those injuries."

Simon Property Group denied wrongdoing in all three cases and filed cross-claims against the third-party company used to provide security services at Simon malls. The cross-claims argued that if anyone were to be held liable, it should be the security company. The security company argued in court documents that its contract with Simon protects it from liability.


'The Missing Piece' Part 7: Lasting impacts

All three lawsuits ended with confidential settlements.

Security guards who now patrol the Town Center mall work for another company than the one named in the legal filings.

Simon Property Group did not respond to WPTV's requests for comment.

But Boca Raton police Detective Scott Hanley believes the crimes prompted the mall to make changes, from additional security cameras to a police substation there.

"I do think things were done in reaction to these cases," he said.

If you have any information regarding the 2007 crimes with ties to the Town Center at Boca Raton, call Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS. Tipsters could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. You can remain anonymous.

You can also contact the detectives assigned to these cold cases using the information below:

Detective Scott Hanley
Boca Raton Police Department

Detective William Springer
Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office