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Southwest Florida mom seeks answers 25 years after her son was burned alive

Posted at 2:55 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-26 10:39:17-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Southwest Florida mother is asking for the community's help in finding who killed her son 25 years ago. 

In October of 1993, David Comparetto left his part-time job at a Fort Myers Publix and was never heard from again.

Hours later, his parents were informed that his light blue Ford Tempo was found burning in a remote part of rural east Lee County.

"Someone - or some persons - put my son alive in the trunk of a car, poured some kind of accelerant on it and burned him up alive," says Patsy Comparetto. "But whoever did it, you did it intentionally," she says as if addressing who did it.

"You murdered my son. You put him in the trunk of the car alive," she says. 

The Lee County Sheriff's Office detective who's now working on the case says, even though the case has been unsolved for years, it's still an active investigation. 

"I think a lot of times a cold case is looked at as old and forgotten, and that's not the case," says Sgt. Marcia Sutphin. 

She says she's confident the case can be solved if the right person - or persons, - step up.

"Clearly someone knows what happened to David," said Sgt. Sutphin who adds the case file on David's personality is pretty consistent.

"It appears that the description that everyone had of David was that he was a very shy, timid individual."

 Sutphin says the key is getting folks to come forward.

"There are definitely people out there who have information that could help us close this case." she says. 

Sutphin says anyone with information can contact her directly at: (239) 477-1146 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, can call (800)780-TIPS. You can also download the Crime Stoppers app

"You may have already spoken to law enforcement," says Sgt. Sutphin.

"It may information that you might not think if relevant to the case, but it may very well be that missing puzzle piece that may connect two puzzle pieces." 

"We're ready and willing to speak to anyone who could have information that could be helpful," says Sutphin. 

"If there's anyone out there who knew David, who associated with him or his friends, we want to talk to you.
"We want to know what you knew about David," says Sutphin. 

"It's time," says David's mother, Patsy, as she asks for tips from the community.

"Please, please, I beg of you - all of you," she says to any witnesses. 

"We need answers. We need justice for my son...our son," she says sitting next to David's father, Sam. 


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Sam and Patsy adopted David when he was 5 days old. 

"We had been married 4 years," she says. "We had tried to have kids."

The couple was told they had the option to not adopt David because he was born with what hospital staff at the time called "defects." 

"He was born with a club foot and didn't have muscle in one leg," says David's mother. "One leg was shorter than the other which caused scoliosis of the back."

But Patsy says they could only see a baby that needed their love.   "I didn't see nothing but his face and right then he was my baby," she says.

"And wish we had taken better care of him and kept him alive," she says referring to David's murder. 

Patsy says David's physical challenges didn't seem to affect his disposition.

"He was a happy little boy," she says.

"He was a happy child."

'Til he went to high school," she says.

"That's when the change came." 

"He did tend to get teased a lot." she says. 

Developmentally, she says David was younger than his years.

"David was a very naive young man," says Patsy. 

By the time David was 30, his parents had accepted he would likely always need them for guidance and protection.

"Even though he was 30 years old, he was like teenager," says Patsy.  "We always did worry what was going to happen to him if something happened to us first." 

"This is what happened," she says, referring to David's murder. "He always believed everybody was his friend and he never thought anybody would hurt him," she says.

With no fear of being hurt, David didn't hide the fact that he desired a kind of love that wouldn't come from his family.

"He wanted a girlfriend really bad," says Patsy.

That quest for romance proved elusive. And that may have led David down a fateful - and eventually fatal - path.

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Patsy says one night David called her and told her some co-workers were teasing him and pressuring him to a strip club.

Against his parents' advice, he went to the club.  Patsy says, after that, he was hooked.

"He was addicted to that just like someone is addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling," she says. "He was just addicted to going into those places."  

Though there was no sign of real romance for David, some of the dancers and other employees at the various clubs he visited seemed O.K. to let such a harmless and eager young man hang around and even help out.  

"He did stuff for all of them," she says.

"He put gas in their car, he went and got them pizza, he took 'em back and forth to work." 

Patsy and Sam say they would often go to to the clubs themselves and take David home after someone took advantage of him, financially or otherwise. 

But eventually they realized it was a losing battle. 

"We decided the more we did that the more he's rebelling against that," she says.

"So we decided to just leave him alone. "But we never thought anyone was going to murder him. We never thought that or we'd still been going in and taking him out," she says referring to the strip clubs.

She says David eventually realized the clubs would not lead to romantic dating relationship he craved. But by then, he felt trapped.

"He said, "I want to stop, but I don't know how,'" says Patsy. 

She says David agreed to go see a counselor.  His appointment was set for a Monday.  David was killed two nights before that appointment. 

A few years back, Crime Stoppers revealed a new clue in the case.

They want to hear from anyone who may have seen a black vehicle that had been spotted around strip clubs back then.

"There are people that have to know something," says David's mother

"Whether you were a disc jockey in one of the clubs he used to frequent, whether  you were a cook somewhere, whether you were girl that danced."

Sgt. Sutphin has a message for anyone who may remember anything from that era.

"It's been 25 years since David murdered," says Sgt. Sutphin.

"Chances are you're not associating with the same people you were 25 years ago." 

"And I would just ask everyone to  examine where your allegiances are in life." 

"And if you have help, information that helps us bring justice to David and closure to his family, bring that information forward."

"Let us help David's family."

Again, Sgt. Sutphin says you can contact her directly at: (239) 477-1146 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, can call Crime Stoppers (800)780-TIPS. You can also download the Crime Stoppers app.