Investigation Discovery is reaching back to the 1970s for their latest murder story about the 1978 spa murders in North Miami Beach, Florida, where John Mitchell was found dead, along with Carol Raduazzo, and Patricia Lynn Beck. Authorities arrested Stephen Beattie for the crime. Their tragic tale will unfold on ID’s Truth Is Stranger Than Florida. The episode based on this particular case is titled “Scandal At The Spa.” Truth Is Stranger Than Florida is produced by Gulp Pictures with Steve Katz, George Plamondon, and Lorna Thomas as executive producers, according to the Internet Movie Database IMDB).
On Truth Is Stranger Than Florida
- After a spa owner disappears in the night, his dead body is found in an upscale Miami salon, where police discover that he had a bitter enemy.
Tragedy At World of Health Spa, Miami 1978
John Mitchell, owner of World of Health Spa and former owner of various massage parlors, met a tragic end in July 1978. His wife grew concerned after he failed to return home and sent a family member to the swanky spa to see if he was there. According to information found at Wolfie Wise Guy, when his father arrived, he found John Mitchell dead inside the spa. Miami investigators were summoned to the scene, where they also discovered two cleaning workers dead. The victims were listed as 34-year-old Carol Raduazzo and 18-year-old Patricia Lynn Beck. One of the victim’s was found in the hallway, and the other in the whirlpool bath-area.
A disturbing aspect of the case was that Patrica Beck’s body was found posed and in the nude with chewing gum on her body. It appeared that she had been stripped down and sexually assaulted. A court record found at Murderpedia describes the findings like this.
“One of the victims, a young female, was found nude, posed and her clothing strewn about. It appeared as though she may have been sexually assaulted. There are many misconceptions connected with this case, which have perpetuated over the years, resulting in urban legend. One is that the print was deposited on the surface of the victim’s skin with sun tan lotion or oil. This is unsubstantiated and unfounded but has contributed to over embellished statements that all prints recovered from human skin have been in the state of Florida and are due to sun tan oil. The causative factor of the print is irrelevant and was definitely not sun tan oil. “
In addition to the dead bodies, the spa was found in disarray. An autopsy report concluded that all victims had been shot to death. Detectives dug into their backgrounds to get some insight on who would want to hurt them.
The investigation became focused on John Mitchell’s close friend, Stephen William Beattie, a Scotland-born man who police say killed his friend to cash in on the hefty insurance policy. Upon John Mitchell’s death, Stephen Beattie expected to receive around $100,000.
Stephen Beattie, an expert in Karate, was a rough and tumble sort of guy. He had a propensity toward violence and fighting. His criminal past includes charges for theft for which he did time in jail. Wolfie Wise Guy provides a few more details about his background.
“He was born in Scotland, and aged seven, his family emigrated to Canada. The son of a professional boxer, he and his brothers grew up tough. One even became a World Champion in the 1950`s. Another went into politics. Steve Beattie went crooked. He had taken up Karate as a teen and held a black belt fifth Dan by the time he was 20. He won the state Karate championship for three years.”
For the brutal killings, Stephen Beattie was given three death sentences. He committed suicide in prison by taking an overdose of pills in 1981.
Another Chilling Case
- In 2012, another spa killing made headlines. In that case, the killer, 45-year-old Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, shot and killed his estranged wife, Zina Haughton, along with two others inside the Azana Spa in Wisconsin. Decked out in camouflage clothing and a backpack, Radcliffe Haughton arrived to the spa in a taxi, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Not much is available online about the John Mitchell triple murder case. For a more rounded out version of the true story, tune into Truth Is Stranger Than Florida this Friday, December 23, at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery.
[Featured Image by Tony Gutierrez/AP Images]