Police suspect apartment fire used to cover up Davie man's murder

By Diana Marrero
Staff Writer
Posted September 2 2003

DAVIE -- A 50-year-old man was found dead in his burning apartment early Monday morning, and detectives suspect the fire was set to cover up the man's murder, Davie police Lt. Bill Bamford said.

Neighbors told police they heard screaming from William Joseph Baldi's second-floor apartment about midnight, Bamford said.











Police went out to the complex but found no disturbance at the time, Bamford said.

About 5 a.m., police were called again when neighbors noticed smoke coming from Baldi's apartment.

Firefighters found the man's body, injured and engulfed in flames, in his bedroom.

Detectives are searching for a suspect they think took off with Baldi's silver 1999 Nissan Pathfinder with a tag number of U71 AFT.

Baldi's neighbors knew him as Bill, the man who greeted them at their neighborhood Kmart and made sure the apartment's pool area was locked up each night.

Neighbors said Baldi, a cancer survivor, loved life and decided to have his left arm amputated when he was diagnosed with cancer to have a better chance of beating the disease.

"He said it was a no-brainer decision for him because he wanted to live the rest of his life," said neighbor John Mullee, who was recently diagnosed with cancer himself.

He said Baldi always made it a point to talk to him and ask him how he was doing.

Many people at the large apartment complex knew Baldi, though he had been living at the Arrowhead Condominiums in the 2500 block of Southwest 81st Avenue for only a few years.

"He was very friendly," Mullee said. "Everybody here knew him, knew who he was."

Baldi was the one who kept their pool area safe at night, making the security rounds and locking up so children from the neighborhood would stay out of trouble.

Mullee's wife, Virginia, said Baldi's disability did not slow him down.

"You would never even know he didn't have an arm," she said. "He was very agile with the rest of his body."

At the Kmart where he worked, store employees were shocked by his death.

"He'd be the last guy someone would want to hurt," said John Osorio, who worked with Baldi and considered him a friend. "He got along with everybody."

Baldi was so nice, Osorio said, that he had been allowing a friend to stay in his home while the man saved up enough money to get his own place.

Detectives are investigating several possible suspects. Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Diana Marrero can be reached at dmarrero@sun-sentinel.com or 305-810- 5005.