While talking with co-workers about Miami's elusive prostitute killer, Rory Conde said: "He's a smart guy. They're not going to get him." A couple of months later Conde himself was arrested and confessed to strangling six Tamiami Trail prostitutes between September 1994 and January 1995.
Rory Conde was born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1965. His mother died of tetanus when he was six months old. He was raised with his sister Nelly by their paternal grandmother. When he was twelve the trio moved to Miami to live with Rory's father, Gustavo Conde. Rory never liked his father. He thought the old man ignored him and was emotionally abusive. Carla Conde, Rory's future wife, suspected that Rory's violent temper was a result of having been sexually abused by his father when he was young.
Carla and Rory married in 1987 when she was 15 and he was 21. For most of their seven-year marriage Rory was a household monster. He would kick and punch his wife, drag her by the hair until she had rug burns, threatened her with a gun, grabbed her by the throat, and once tried to suffocate her with a pillow. A cleancoholic, Rory would beat the shit out of Carla if their baby Rory Jr. dropped a crumb on the floor and she didn't get to it before he got home.
On the side Rory brought women home to satiate his lust. He videotaped one of them wearing his wife lingerie and masturbating on their bed. When Carla discovered the tape she confronted her husband with it. The fight that followed landed Rory in jail. The couple separated and reconciled. In 1992 Carla found herself pregnant again. The family moved to a condominium they bought off the Tamiami Trail. Around that time Rory's behaviour changed drastically. They stopped having sex and Rory would disappear overnight.
He would tell his wife he was out fishing. However he never smelled like fish and would come back home with his back scratched. Two days before giving birth to their daughter, Carla asked him about the scratches. He grabbed her by the neck and gave her a beating. Once she followed her husband out and discovered him masturbating outside a neighbor's window. He would also get on all fours to peep through the keyhole when Carla's friends who were visiting had to go to the bathroom. By July 1994 Carla had enough and moved to her parent's house with their two children. Rory was upset and depressed. He told her that if she dated anyone else he would kill her.
Eight weeks later, on September 17, the "Tamiami Strangler" struck for the first time. Lazaro Comesana, a transvestite who looked very much like a woman, was the first one dead. Two other murders quickly followed, Elisa Martinez on October 8 and Charity Nava on November 20. He wrote a message on the back and buttocks of Charity with a black felt marker using symbols and fancy looped lettering. The message read "THIRD! (A happy face dotting the 'i') I will call Dwight Chan 10. (A reference to WPLG anchor Dwight Lauderdale) [See] if you can catch me. (Using two eyes instead of the word 'See')"
By then Carla thought her estranged husband looked sickly and depressed. When he came to visit the children he would cry. He celebrated Thanksgiving with Carla's family and left at 10 p.m. without saying goodbye. The next morning, November 25, the body of victim number four, Wanda Crawford, was discovered. On December 17 prostitute Necole Schneider became victim number five. On January 12, 1995, Rhonda Dunn became victim number six. Rory was arrested on June 19 when a prostitute bound head to toe with duct tape made enough noise in Conde's apartment to attract the attention of neighbors while he was out for a court appearance on a shoplifting charge. She had been repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted, and was well on her way to becoming victim number seven.
In court his defense attorney argued that Conde snapped when he discovered his first victim -- a prostitute -- was actually man dressed as a woman. The sight brought back memories of childhood sexual abuse, the defense said.
On October 20, 1999, Building-supply salesman and alleged serial killer Rory E. Conde was convicted of killing one of six prostitutes in Miami. Conde, who was known as the Tamiami Strangler, was found guilty of strangling Rhonda Dunn, whose body was discovered in January 1995. His defense attorney did not deny Conde killed anyone, but argued Conde did not plot or premeditate the slayings.
On March 17, 2000, Rory Conde was sentenced to death for the murder of Rhonda Dunn. Conde, 34, said nothing and appeared drowsy during the 45-minute sentencing. He was convicted in October, and in December a jury recommended the the death penalty.
On April 5, 2001, Conde pleaded guilty to the murder of five prostitutes as part of a plea agreement. Conde agreed to the plea agreement and was sentenced by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jerald Bagley to five consecutive life terms without parole. As a condition of the plea deal, if Conde manages to get his death sentence overturned, he cannot try to vacate his guilty pleas to the killings of Lazaro Comesana, Elisa "Daphne" Martinez, Charity Fay Nava, Wanda Cook Crawford and Necole Christina Schneider. "This sentence will ensure that Rory Conde never again walks the streets of this community," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Now that the other cases against him have been settled, he will be moved to death row at Florida State Prison in Starke.