San Diego police are looking for a “person of interest” in connection with the Christmas Eve slayings of Ilona Flint, 22, and her fiancé’s brother, Salvatore Belvedere, also 22, as well as the killing of Flint’s fiancé 24-year-old Gianni Belvedere whose body was found in the trunk of his car in Riverside, California, a week ago.
As police at a Friday press conference offered the most detailed description yet of a man seen walking from the site of the Christmas Eve shootings in the parking lot of a San Diego Macy’s after midnight on December 24, a former FBI agent said that the Belvedere family’s financial dealings may have led to the triple murder, San Diego’s Channel 10 News reports.
First, the person being sought by police. Last seen in the Westfield Mission Valley Mall parking lot in the early hours of December 24, as reported by CBS Channel 8, he is a man between 5’10” and 6′ tall. He was seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, or “hoodie,” with white bands across the upper arm portions of the sleeves. The man who is currently sought for questioning was also wearing tan pants and white sneakers.
San Diego homicide detective Mike Hastings assured the public that police will release further information as it comes up.
“I understand the want for information in this case…. I can assure you that if this case can be solved, this case will be solved, and it will be solved lawfully, morally and ethically,” Hastings said at the press conference.
Hastings confirmed information made public yesterday, that Gianni Belvedere was the victim of a homicide. But he said the exact method by which he was killed is not yet clear.
“There has been some confusion with Gianni Belvedere’s autopsy and exactly what the manner of death was,” Hastings said at the San Diego press conference. “I do not have specifics because the autopsy report is not completed yet and probably won’t be for several weeks.”
Meanwhile, Channel 10 News interviewed former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett, now an ABC News consultant, who speculated that the family’s financial affairs might be behind the murders.
“Clearly, these were targeted kills,” Garrett said, hypothesizing that bad debts to the wrong people, or possibly even drug involvement, is likely in the case of such professional-style murders. “They had gone on credit for too long, probably had been warned, and they weren’t going to take it anymore – the bad guys weren’t. And that’s not uncommon, particularly if it has something to do with the drug trade, to start taking people out.”
In 2009, the Belvedere family closed an Italian restaurant they had run for many years in Provo, Utah. They relocated to San Diego to start a business in pre-packaged Italian foods. Gianni Belvedere’s name was on the trademark application for that new business, Primavera Foods.
But the trademark request was not filed until February of 2013, three years after the Provo restaurant closed. Channel 10 reporters wrote that they found no explanation for the time gap. They also reported that the family’s restaurant business was “floundering” and the Belvedere family had “bankruptcies, liens and other financial issues in their background.”
Of course, it is not unusual for businesses, perhaps especially in the volatile food service industry, to experience financial difficulties. But rarely do such difficult but sadly common issues result in premeditated murders, such as in this San Diego tragedy that ended three young lives.