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Father Helps Crack Son’s Murder After Four Years

December 31, 1990

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Frustrated with the slow pace of justice after his only son was murdered four years ago, Joseph Viscido spent $50,000 investigating the case on his own. His dogged detective work finally paid off.

Three men are jailed and awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Joseph Viscido Jr. Two of the defendants are to be tried in February. A third is fighting extradition to Florida from Rhode Island.

″I couldn’t let them kill my son and get away with it,″ Viscido said.

On Oct. 12, 1986, the younger Viscido was beaten and shot in the head in his Deerfield Beach apartment by two men who came to steal cocaine, police said. He was buried the day before his 28th birthday.

Unlike many parents of murdered children, Viscido, a used-car dealer who had leased out his car lot, had both the money and the time to pursue the case after the official investigation bogged down.

His surveillance and interviews took him as far away as Canada, New York, and Ohio. His information helped build a 1,300-page file and led last September to the indictments of Peter Dallas, Carl Stephen Rosati and Phillip Roussonicolos.

During a recent interview at his Pompano Beach home, Viscido, 59, said avenging his son’s death became an obsession. Depressed and frustrated after the slaying, he resumed smoking, after quitting 10 years ago.

″I felt I had three choices: I was either going to get killed, die of a broken heart or get enough evidence to bring them to justice,″ Viscido said.

The younger Viscido worked in the body shop of his father’s used-car lot and dabbled in construction. But his life took a dangerous turn when he began using drugs and selling them to his friends, his father recalled.

Viscido began his probe by talking to his son’s friends. Several weeks after the murder, police gave him composite sketches of the gunmen.

Viscido won’t divulge many details of his tactics because the case awaits trial.

However, he said police put a hidden microphone on him several times when he met with potential suspects or witnesses. Other times he took notes, which filled four notebooks. ″As I went along I got more professional,″ he said.

When the case first came before a Broward grand jury in early 1989, no indictment was returned. But a second proceeding resulted in murder and robbery indictments against Rosati, 30; Dallas, 27; and Roussonicolos, 29.

Dallas and Roussonicolos are in the Broward County Jail without bond, while Rosati is fighting extradition from Rhode Island.

Roussonicolos set up the robbery and Dallas and Rosati were the gunmen, police alleged.

Police and prosecutors give Viscido credit for cracking the case. ″He had perseverance beyond belief,″ said Sgt. Bill Murray of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

However, Fort Lauderdale attorney John Howes, who is defending Roussonicolos, said prosecutors have a case only ″because the boy’s father goes out and tape records conversations, which he probably doesn’t have a right to do.″

Viscido and attorneys refused to say what the tapes contained.

Viscido, who spent about $50,000 on the investigation, is writing a book about it. He encourages victims’ families to help police, even when things seem bleak.

″For a while there I didn’t think I could make it,″ Viscido said. ″I now have peace of mind knowing ... that they’re going to pay.″

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