Private Investigator Examines Possible Mistaken Identity in Malfetti Murder


The private investigator working for the parent’s of a New Jersey man who was found stabbed to death in his apartment on the grounds of a south shore luxury home on January 19 has tracked down the former tenant of the apartment who claims he may have been the intended target of the fatal attack.

But the investigator, (William) Todd Phoenix, of St. Petersburg, Florida, isn’t sure the V.I. Police Department know about the possible case of mistaken identity which could have led to Malfetti’s murder or that the young man who was the intended target of the fatal attack was still on island — or if the police want to know.

“We attempted to meet with VIPD and the Commissioner,” Phoenix told Tradewinds. “We were told that they would not share any information on an open investigation.”

“We have since had telephone conversations with Sgt. (Diana) Martinez (the lead detective in the VIPD’s Malfetti investigation) and had the same response,” the private investigator said. “Based on that information, I do not know their level of awareness of the situation. ”

All Too Familiar Similarities to Cockayne Murder
The “situation” involves a young man working at an island resort who says he was the intended target of the attack for pressing the prosecution of a man for assaulting him in Cruz Bay, according to Phoenix.

The private investigator named the former tenant without hesitation, although he did not say whether he had talked with the young stateside man who was still working at one of the island’s resorts three weeks after the murder.

A Tradewinds source said the VIPD investigators have not been able to locate the man who was charged in that criminal case.

“As far as his testimony, it was related to a battery that occurred in town (Cruz Bay) in which he was the victim,” said Phoenix, who also worked for the family of Jamie Cockayne, a young Pennsylvania man who was stabbed to death in Cruz Bay in June 2007.

The Cockayne murder attracted international media attention for the way the V.I. Police Department responded to the Cockayne family and was reported on by Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Cockayne, a short term visitor to the island, died in Cruz Bay when he bled to death from a knife wound suffered in an assault by several young island men in the continuation of a bar argument.

Phoenix spent almost a week on St. John investigating the Malfetti case and confirmed much of the information which had already been provided to Tradewinds by sources and added a few more details to the police report filed by the owners of the residence on the morning of January 18.

“The burglary (to the main residence) occurred between the hours of 11:00 p.m. Friday night (January 17) and the time they awoke and reported it Saturday morning (at 8:15 a.m. January 18),” Phoenix told Tradewinds. “(The owner) reported the burglary to their residence. They were home at the time the burglary occurred.”

“His car and Jimmy were discovered on the 19th,” Phoenix said of Malfetti. “Their caretaker discovered Jimmy Sunday morning.”

“There is no evidence to support that the homicide did not occur during the same time frame as the burglary to the home,” Phoenix continued.

“Jimmy Malfetti’s car was located on Rendezvous  the same day his body was found, January 19,” the private investigator confirmed.

“No Comment” on Victim’s Wounds
Phoenix would not comment on a report to Tradewinds that Malfetti’s throat had been slit. Police reports have said the man suffered “puncture wounds” to his neck.

“I can’t comment on,” Phoenix told Tradewinds. “I will never release anything that I feel would be detrimental to advancing the investigation.“

“I am in daily contact with the Malfettis,” he added. “They have had very limited contact with VIPD.”

No Information Released by VIPD
The V.I. Police Department is not releasing any information in the Malfetti case.

“If the investigating officers have any information they deem will assist the case by releasing it to the media they will inform me of that and I will release it with their permission and approval,” a VIPD spokesperson said. “This case remains under active investigation.”

“The VIPD does not release regular updates to the media on active cases,” said a VIPD spokesperson. “To do so may jeopardize the investigation.”

The Malfetti case is already attracting stateside attention with the call by a New Jersey U.S. Senator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to get involved. (See related story below)