Betancourt’s extradition cold comfort to families of slain men — (TCPalm)

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TCPalm, Port St. Lucie

By Will Greenlee, staff writer

May 4, 2004

PORT ST. LUCIE – Jo Ann Giordano says there will be no closure. “It’ll never be over for us,” Giordano, 51, said Monday. “Kenny and Rick are gone and it’s going to be like that forever.” Giordano spoke at a Monday news conference to discuss the return to St. Lucie County from Mexico of Mario Betancourt, 47, who is accused of fatally shooting Giordano’s brother, Kenneth Conklin, 39, and Richard Mashler, 49, in January 2000.

“It’s like as if it had just happened again,” said Cary Mashler Schott, Mashler’s widow. “You try to suppress those feelings and you try to keep yourself moving on. “We’ve tried to do that, but at the same time it just doesn’t ever go away, losing someone instantly to a violent crime like that,” she continued. Betancourt reportedly fled to the Hialeah area after the killings, then ultimately wound up in Cancun, Mexico, where he stayed for about 11 months before being captured.

Prior to his flight to Mexico, investigators suspect Betancourt stayed in Kissimmee, San Francisco and San Diego. Detective John Holman suspects Betancourt, who used an alias, at one point met his family at SeaWorld in Orlando.  Betancourt’s wife said he was on depression medication at the time of the shootings, police records state.  A witness reportedly heard Betancourt say, “Yeah, I shot them both,” after the double homicide at Mashler’s Biltmore Street business, from where Betancourt is thought to have been fired. “Rick was somebody that we loved so much and was a part of my life for so long,” Schott said. “I love him and I will always love him, and I wish he could be here for us and be here for his kids.” Standing at a podium in the police station, Giordano revealed two wishes. “I wish to God that this thing had never happened in the first place, and my second wish is that my father and Kenny’s wife, Kathy, could be here today to see this happen.” Conklin’s wife of 11 years, Kathleen, 41, died on Sept. 30, 2002.  At the time, Giordano said Kathleen “had no life” after her husband’s death. The medical examiner said her liver showed evidence of chronic alcohol abuse and suspected her death was alcohol related. Richard Mashler had three brothers and two sisters.