A U.S. Army veteran was gunned down while smoking outside his home in January. Months later, a former client is behind bars in connection to the killing.
John Vitta, 53, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder, according to court records. He’s being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center without bond.
Family members identified the victim as 67-year-old veteran Eric Ferrer. His wife and son were home at the time of the shooting, police say.
On Jan. 8, North Miami Beach police responded to a shooting at Northeast 21st Court, where they found a man slouched in the driver’s side of a gray Toyota Camry. He had a gunshot wound to his head and was transported to HCA Florida Aventura Hospital.
He was on life support until he died two days later.
The victim’s son told police he remembers hearing two loud bangs shortly after midnight. He headed toward the front door and noticed a white “beat up” pick-up truck speeding away, according to police.
Video recordings from nearby homes caught the gunshots — and the pick-up truck zooming through the area.
At some point into the investigation, a friend of the victim told police he heard about the suspect’s vehicle description and said he knew someone who drove a similar truck.
The victim’s friend told police he had remodeled the kitchen of an elderly couple living in North Miami Beach. The couple’s son, he said, drives a similar truck.
Investigators later discovered that the victim had a cell phone number for those clients saved in his phone, according to a police report. Call logs showed that he and the clients had spoken on four occasions.
Police then requested a search warrant for a geo-fence, which casts a virtual fence around a location, for the victim’s home. After a judge granted the warrant, they found out that someone logged into a Google account under Vitta’s name was at the location on the night of the murder, according to the report.
Another search warrant later, Google turned over location data that showed Vitta’s movements on the night of Jan. 7. The data as well as surveillance footage, police say, placed him away from the home he and his 90-year-old mother shared.
Vitta, after waiving his rights, told detectives that he’s the only person who drives the 2007 Ford F-150 and uses his cellphone.
Anyone with information about the murder should contact Det. Exclusa at 305-949-5500 ext. 2834.