Port Orange throat-slashing victim not first Volusia County woman murdered by a stranger responding to an ad the victim placed in the Pennysaver
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A personals ad in the Pennysaver led to the murder of 34-year-old Danielle Santangelo whose throat-slashed body was found Wednesday, two days after she was reported missing. Willie Hicks, 32, the convicted drug felon charged with first-degree murder, is responsible for her slaying after responding to the ad, authorities charge. The charging affidavit is attached.
DELAND -- Throat-slashing victim Danielle Santangelo is not the first Volusia County woman to be murdered after placing an ad in the Pennysaver, a weekly shopper circulated by the same entity that owns the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The 34-year-old Port Orange woman's body was found in her mother's red Chrysler Sebring in a remote, wooded area near DeLand on Wednesday, two days after she was reported missing by her family. Her killer allegedly answered the ad, which read: " Girlfriend Next Door. Beautiful, young, Italian, Very Classy. Call 24-7” (with her phone number posted).
Willie Hicks, 32, of DeLand, a convicted drug felon with several prison stints, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Santangelo, who bled to death as a result of the slashing, according to the Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office following an autopsy.
Donna Gregory of Ormond Beach was murdered on or about Dec. 6, 2001, after calling her day-care service to let her staff know she would be late because she was on her way to pick up a baby for a father. Her body was found four days later in a ditch near Port Orange. She was responding to a call from a man who read her ad for day-care services in the Pennysaver. Michael Culbertson, later convicted in Gregory's murder and imprisoned, lured her to his Holly Hill apartment under pretense of being a father in need.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, like the Orlando TV stations, the Orlando Sentinel and VolusiaNews.net have reported extensively on Santengelo's slaying. But the News-Journal has made no reference to the connection between ads placed in the Pennysaver and the two killings by men answering ads -- in Santengelo's case for romance/companionship and in Gregory's case, for day-care services.
The Pennysaver, the Complete Phone Book and the Daytona Beach News-Journal, all subsidiaries of News-Jornal Corp,. were sold in January in a court-litigated sale for $20 million to Halifax Media LLC, headed by Michael Redding, the publisher and CEO. T
he News-Journal in this morning's print edition, headlined "Woman's accused killer an ex-con" doesn't shed any new light on the personals ad, stating in part: Questions remain about who placed the ad in The Pennysaver that Hicks responded to a few days before the murder. Investigators said Santangelo placed the ad, but close friends said someone else purchased it for her. The ad read: "Girlfriend next door. Beautiful. Young Italian. Very Classy. Call anytime 24/7."
The News-Journal story also fails to make the connection or otherwise even mention the Pennysaver's affiliation with the newspaper or with Halifax Media LLC. A review of this week's personals in the Pennysaver by VolusiaNews.net shows that the shopper gives no cautionary language to those placing ads about the potential dangers of giving out personal phone numbers.
The issue of personals was debated by friends of Santangelo and even strangers who read VolusiaNews.net's earlier breaking story headlined: "Murdered Port Orange woman met her killer after placing a personals ad in the Pennysaver." T
he News-Journal, in its Friday newspaper coverage headlined its verson of the Pennysaver connection: "Officials: Personal ad led to murder." The lead paragraph to that story led with the generic: Danielle Santangelo put an ad in a weekly publication calling herself the "Girlfriend next door" and the man who responded slashed her throat, Volusia County sheriff's investigators said Thursday.
The first reference to "Pennysaver" in the News-Journal story was mentioned in the fourth paragraph: Investigators said Santangelo placed an ad in The Pennysaver. It read: "Girlfriend next door. Beautiful. Young Italian. Very classy. Call anytime 24/7," and then she listed her telephone number, said Volusia County sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught.
The News-Journal has not stated when the ad was placed in the Pennysaver and Volusia County Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said his agency's assigned homicide investigators are still trying to determine when the ad was placed.
Haught said investigators learned through telephone records that Hicks responded to the ad a day or two before Santangelo's Monday disappearance.
Sheriff's investigators have not released information whether Santangelo had been sexually assaulted or raped before she was murdered. And forensic evidence from the Medical Examiner's Office such as whether any semen or DNA from the attacker was found during the autopsy.
The way the accused killer got to Santangelo by means of an advertisement with a phone number was stunning to several people who know Santangelo and even those who didn't know her.
Deanna Greenwood of Daytona Beach posted the following on Facebook and copied it to VolusiaNews.Net Friday morning as follws, verbatim:
The lady you all heard about on the news today that was found in deland murdered was more then just another nameless face in a world of violence we have all become desensitized too, her name was DANNY, her nick name actually. She worked for a long time at Port Orange Elementary where both of my kids attended and of course all their friends. She worked in the extend a day program watching over all these kids and was cared for by many people. You will hear on the news that she put an add in the personals through the pennysaver and how she died. Danny just wanted to be loved and was all heart and well, didnt see the consequences of her actions until it was too late.
Too all of you out here in FB world please please BE CARERFUL. I know that it is each and everyone of our greatest wishes ~ to be loved and I know that social media makes it much much more acceptable to reach out to strangers but please take precautions and think in advance about meeting these strangers. Have a plan. Stay in your hometown area, have a friend go with for the first encounter in a PUBLIC place dont give out your personal info until you really know this person.
What happened to Danny is devastating and i cant bare to think of the details that i am aware of. Trust me when i say that no one deserves to be brutally hurt like she was and all because she wanted to reach out to another in the hopes of love.My friends, I love you all and want you all to be safe and loved. Learn from my friend, Danny, let this not be all in vain, do NOT make the same mistakes she made.God Bless Danny~ fly with the angels girl. Here are links to the ongoing coverage of the murder story, along with videos, as reported by two Orlando TV stations, WESH and WFTV, respectively:
|Santangelo murder report.pdf||190.63 KB|
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Henry Frederick is editor/publisher of Headline Surfer, Florida's first 24/7 Internet newspaper, launched April 7, 2008 in New Smyrna Beach, and accessed via HeadlineSurfer.com, NSBNews.net & VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Frederick was the top winner in the 2012 Florida Press Club contest: 1st place for Blog Writing & 3rd place each for General News Writing, Public Safety Reporting & Best Online Presence (with social media). He's received 18 major journalism awards as a breaking news, investigative reporter & city editor for daily newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts, New York & Connecticut since the mid-1980s.
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