Details of Disappearance Benedetto planned to attend a dinner party with his wife, Janette Piro, near their residence on Singer Island, Florida on November 11, 1998. They never arrived as expected. There was no sign of either Benedetto or Piro at their house on Dolphin Road. Benedetto's Toyota 4Runner truck was discovered abandoned in the parking lot of a nearby hotel on November 14, 1998, three days after he and his wife disappeared. There was no sign of them at the scene.
Neighbors phoned the couple's families in New York on November 15 after they were unable to locate either Benedetto or Piro. Benedetto's brothers flew to Florida and filed missing persons' reports for the couple. His brothers were planning to return to New York on November 23 and were in the process of closing the Bendettos' residence when they discovered Piro's body inside of a freezer in the garage. A photo of Piro is posted with this case summary. The freezer had been stored behind the couple's BMW and authorities believe the murderer(s) hid it there to conceal the crime. Piro had been strangled. There was no sign of Benedetto and he has never been heard from again.
Authorities found Benedetto's cellular phone and wallet inside the couple's residence. Benedetto is an avid fisherman and had just returned from a fishing trip prior to his disappearance. His fishing gear was aboard his boat and the motor was running in the holding tank. Investigators found that the boat's anchor and ten-foot chain were missing, as well as several of Benedetto's fishing rods.
Authorities discovered that over $100,000 worth of Piro's jewelry had disappeared from their house, apparently having being stolen by the murderer(s). Piro's four-karat diamond engagement ring and a diamond tennis bracelet were among the items missing.
Benedetto and Piro moved to Florida in 1995 from their native New York. Benedetto won a workers' compensation settlement from his former employer worth two million dollars due to an injury he suffered in 1989. There are theories that Piro's murder and Benedetto's disappearance are connected to an investment or other financial deal gone awry, but nothing has been proven.
Piro's brother-in-law, Michael Koblan, was severely beaten in New Jersey in March 1999, four months after Piro's murder and her husband's disappearance. It is not known if this incident is connected to their cases, but Koblan received several business loans from Benedetto. The Benedetto family sued Koblan in 2000, alleging in their suit that he failed to repay $165,000 in loans to Benedetto.
The Benedetto family won the right to post a $100,000 reward for information regarding his disappearance in 2000. Piro's family attempted to stop the judgment, as it allowed the Benedetto family to use the reward money from the couple's estate. The Piro family wanted half of the judgment's sum to be given to a reward fund to locate Piro's murderer. The judge disagreed and the Benedetto family was allowed to offer the reward as they originally planned.
In June 2003, Koblan was arrested and charged with murder, interstate stalking, conspiracy to obstruct justice and the interstate transportation of stolen property. Prosecutors stated that Koblan killed Benedetto while on a fishing trip at sea after Benedetto pressed him for a payback on the loan. They believe Koblan weighed Benedetto's body down with the missing anchor and chain and dumped it in the ocean, then went back to shore and killed Piro, as she was the only person who knew Koblan and Benedetto were together that day. He later attempted to sell Piro's jewelry. Koblan was convicted of all charges in 2005 and sentenced to life in prison.
Benedetto and Piro were said to have had a very stable marriage. Benedetto is described as an outgoing person who is very neat and organized. He particularly enjoys saltwater fishing. Benedetto likes fine wines and cigars. His body has never been located.
- Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department
Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 4, 2006; details of disappearance updated.