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Father’s Refusal To Believe Son Died Accidentally Leads To Murder Arrest

December 29, 1989

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. (AP) _ A man who refused to believe his son’s death was an accident conducted an independent investigation that has led to the arrest of a man for investigation of killing the son.

Richard Froio, 50, launched his own campaign to uncover the truth about the death of his son, Rocco Froio, 32, an alcoholic who lived on the streets.

Rocco Froio’s body was discovered Aug. 18 in Studio City. After an autopsy revealed that he had died of a heroin overdose, Los Angeles detectives ruled the death accidental and closed the case.

But the elder Froio was suspicious because he knew his son had not used drugs for seven years, said Detective Charles Barnes.

Because of the father’s diligence, police obtained information needed to arrest John Bird, 37, a transient, authorities said.

A preliminary hearing for Bird is scheduled for Tuesday on charges he killed the younger Froio with an injection of heroin while he was asleep or unconscious.

The elder Froio posted a sign near where his son’s body was discovered, seeking information about the death.

″He was very dedicated and instrumental in the case,″ Deputy District Attorney Guadalupe Y. Gonzalez said.

″The sign kept getting knocked down and he would pass by it and put it up again,″ Ms. Gonzalez said. ″He wandered around and talked to people, asking them if they knew his son. He was trying to reconstruct his son’s last moments.″

The elder Froio received several calls from homeless people who said Bird had injected his son with heroin while he was asleep or passed out. He relayed the information to police, who arrested Bird on Oct. 21.

If convicted, Bird faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison for murder and the sale and transportation of heroin, authorities said.

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