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Adam EZERSKI

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 26, 2001
Date of arrest: August 17, 2001
Date of birth: January 16, 1982
Victim profile: Anthony Martilotto, 39 (gay man)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25 years in prison on October 1, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ezerski Pleads Guilty, Gets 25 Years

October 2, 2003

Adam Ezerski pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison after admitting he murdered and robbed Anthony Martilotto in a Fort Lauderdale hotel room.

 
 

Ezerski Discounted In Second Slaying

By Fidel Ortega - 365Gay.com Newscenter in Miami

August 22, 2001

Miami Police in Aventura, Florida are discounting Adam Ezerski as the killer of  Irving Sicherer.

The 76 year old man was bludgeoned to death the same week as Anthony Martilotto was killed in a Fort Lauderdale hotel room.

At the time of the killings police believed they were committed by the same person: Ezerski.

When the 19 year old was arrested in Reno, Nevada on the weekend, he confessed to killing Martilotto, claiming self defence.  But, he denied killing Sicherer.

Martilotto's stolen car had fingerprints belonging to Ezerski but, police in Aventura say there is nothing linking him to Sicherer.

Police have not said why they linked the two killings except to say they believed both victims were gay.  The prospect of a gay serial killer making his way across America conjured up memories of Andrew Cunanan who left a trail of bodies across the US before he killed Gianni Versace and then killing himself.

Aventura police have surveillance tapes from a grocery store and from Sichererís condominium.

They show Sicherer with a young man the night before his body was discovered. The young man in the video has a tattoo on his right arm above his elbow.

Ezerski also has tattoos, but police say they do not resemble the tattoos of the man seen in the video.

 
 

To catch a killer

Police distributed flyers at the gay softball softball, world series in Sunnyvale, Calif., in mid August, warning hundreds of participants about a possible serial killer preying on gay men. Adam Ezerski, 19, was wanted in connection with two murders in Florida and was suspected of a strangling attack in San Francisco about an hour north of Sunnyvale. The aggressive outreach, which was part of a joint effort between the FBI, local police, and gay organizations, paid quick dividends: Community tips helped the FBI track Ezerski to Reno, Nev., where he was arrested on August 17.

Police say Ezerski confessed to killing Anthony Martilotto, 39, of Weston, Fla., whose body was found July 26 in a Fort Lauderdae hotel room. Ezerski claimed self-defense, saying a drunken Martilotto, whom he had met in a nearby bar, attacked him. The teenager denied involvement in the slaying of another gay man to whom he had been linked, and police in Aventura, Fla.--where Irving Sicherer, 76, was found dead July 25--confirmed that a bloody footprint found in Sicherer's home doesn't belong to Ezerski.

 
 

Gay community put FBI on suspect's trail

Daly City bowler recognized man wanted in Florida killings

San Francisco Chronicle

August 19, 2001

The FBI pursued Adam Ezerski 3,000 miles from Florida, but it was tips from a mobilized gay community in the Bay Area that put agents on the right path to Reno, where they caught up with the fugitive suspected of killing two gay men.

In interviews with investigators after his arrest, Ezerski said one of the Florida killings was self-defense and denied involvement in the other, one detective said yesterday. The teenager gave no sign he harbored hatred against gays, authorities said.

The key lead to Ezerski's arrest -- one of dozens of tips funneled into investigators from a community alarmed by a suspected killer in their midst -- came Thursday. That's when a member of a gay bowling league in Daly City contacted authorities to say the wanted 19-year-old had shown up at Serra Bowl the night before.

"That is the tip that led to the whole thing," said San Francisco police Inspector Dominic Celaya, who was investigating a Tuesday attack in the city that was linked to Ezerski. "After that, it was a nice domino effect."

"If it wasn't me, I would hope it would come from someone else," said Jeffrey Dangermond of San Francisco, who provided the tip after seeing an acquaintance on an opposing bowling team with a man who turned out to be Ezerski.

Dangermond didn't realize at first he had come face to face with the suspect. But on Thursday, based on media reports and calls from friends, he concluded that his bowling acquaintance, Troy Alan Young, had gone to the league night with the fugitive.

"I was very shocked and surprised, and I was also extremely worried for this Troy guy," he said. Dangermond called police.

Authorities followed leads to a Tenderloin hotel, U-Haul truck lots and finally to Reno, where FBI agents spotted Young on Friday night at a Dairy Queen, ordering for two.

Agents followed Young back to Ezerski, and both men were arrested at the Holiday Inn Diamond's Casino.

"I'm Adam. I'm the person you were looking for," Ezerski told agents, said FBI Special Agent Michael McKinley.

The two men's trip to Reno coincided with that city's gay pride celebration, which started yesterday. But Reno police Lt. Hal Wood said, "We have no reason to believe they were coming here other than they were just passing through."

"I'm glad they got him," said Dave Gooding, 51, who lives in the Mission District and traveled to Reno with 40 members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. "There was a lot of concern. The word got out quickly. . . . It's a tight community."

Flyers in Gay Neighborhoods

Ezerski's face had been plastered on flyers throughout the Castro and other gay neighborhoods from Guerneville to San Jose. "Law enforcement, in particular the FBI, has learned how crucial it is to keep the community in the information loop," said Jennifer Rakowski of Community United Against Violence, which monitors hate crimes against gays. "They cannot do their job alone."

Ezerski was being held pending a hearing Monday on his extradition to Florida, where he has been charged with the July 26 slaying in Fort Lauderdale of 39-year-old Anthony Martilotto. He is also wanted for questioning in the bludgeoning of Irving Sicherer, 76, whose body was found July 25 at his condominium in the Miami suburb of Aventura.

Young, who has a record of drug offenses, burglary and auto theft, was held on a parole violation.

Fort Lauderdale police Detective John Curcio said Ezerski described himself as gay but never gave any indication he was homophobic. "He was actually apologetic" in interviews with investigators, but at other times was self-serving, Curcio said.

Ezerski said the killing in Fort Lauderdale was self-defense, that Martilotto was drunk and attacked him, Curcio said. Martilotto was found strangled in a hotel room.

The detective said Ezerski denied involvement in Sicherer's death.

Ezerski and Young declined interview requests from The Chronicle yesterday at the Washoe County Jail.

'Key West Massage'

Ezerski had a long history of minor offenses as a juvenile and young adult, Curcio said, and had become estranged from his family. Ezerski took advantage of his family, friends, anyone he met, Curcio said.

"He's burned his bridges everywhere he goes," Curcio said.

Still, Ezerski had a way of getting close to people he might want to target, the detective said.

"His claim to fame is, he lures people in by saying, 'Have you ever had a Key West massage?' " Curcio said. "That might actually be the robbery after he beats the tar out of you."

Curcio said he had feared that Ezerski might be headed down the same path as Andrew Cunanan, who killed himself after police tied him to the killings of fashion designer Gianni Versace and four other gay men in 1997.

Ezerski wasn't bothering to conceal the license plate on a stolen car and was using his real first name, Curcio said.

"He was progressing, not even hiding," the detective said. "He didn't seem like he cared. I thought we were going to have to shoot him -- a lot of his friends felt he wouldn't be taken alive."

Ezerski's first contact in the Bay Area may have been Kevin Begoon, who met him Aug. 11 in a Polk Street cafe and let him stay for two nights at his place in the Tenderloin. On Tuesday, he said, Ezerski attacked him with a plaster statue and tried to choke him.

Ezerski soon was with Young, who had lived at the Shamut Hotel on O'Farrell Street for three weeks. The two drove to the bowling alley Wednesday night in a red 2001 Ford Mustang that police believe was stolen from one of the dead men in Florida. Dangermond was bowling against Young, who sports a shaved head and goatee.

"This guy Adam was there with him," said Dangermond, who noticed that Young's companion didn't bowl, but was "there, hanging out."

Ezerski left briefly and returned, finally driving off with Young. The next day, Dangermond heard media reports that a suspected gay predator was in town, and he feared that Young, a quiet man, was in danger. He called San Francisco police.

"It was a compassionate thing. I wouldn't want to hear about Troy being murdered,'' Dangermond said.

FBI agents later told him that Young had skipped out before authorities could question him. Dangermond said it seemed like just "another freaky twist to this whole thing.''

FBI and police now believe Young helped Ezerski go underground Wednesday night, when the news broke that he was in the Bay Area.

Late Thursday, the FBI issued an alert for authorities around the Bay Area to be on the lookout for the two men, based on a report they had been seen by friends in San Jose.

U-Haul Truck

Young sent friends to try to retrieve his clothes at the Shamut Hotel, to no avail, authorities said. The Mustang was found abandoned Friday afternoon on Filbert Street on Russian Hill.

Young had told a friend that he was headed for Reno in a U-Haul, and that man in turn told the FBI, authorities said.

"Our agents went to various U-Haul rental facilities," said Andy Black, spokesman for the FBI. An employee at one lot remembered that the two men had been in and tried to rent a truck but had no credit card, so were forced to leave.

That was enough. Black said, "That gave us a pretty good idea, it confirmed that they were traveling in a U-Haul."

Armed with that information and the tip about Reno, the FBI sent its team to Nevada. It turned out the two had checked in late Thursday at the Holiday Inn Diamond's Casino, agents later learned.

Friday night, in the hotel parking lot, authorities spotted the U-Haul truck and watched it. Young got in and drove away.

"He goes to the Dairy Queen," Black said. "He was eating for two, not for one. That cinched it for us."

When Young returned from his fast-food run, agents were watching and waiting. They later arrested him in the hotel parking lot, and Ezerski in his room.

Black said agents may seek to have Young prosecuted on charges of harboring a fugitive. "We are taking a serious look at that," he said. "He got him a meal deal, for God's sake."

*****

Atlantic Beach, FL -- Ezerski's home town.

July 25, Aventura, FL -- Irving Sicherer, 76, found bludgeoned to death in his home.

July 26, Fort Lauderdale, FL -- Anthony Martilotto, 39, found strangled in local hotel.

August 11, San Francisco -- Kevin Begoon meets Ezerski at Polk Street cafe.

August 14, San Francisco -- Begoon beaten by Ezerski in Tenderloin apartment.

August 15, Daly City -- Ezerski seen with Troy Alan Young at Serra Bowl.

August 16, San Jose -- Ezerski and Young spotted in city.

August 17, Reno, NV -- Ezerski and Young arrested without incident at hotel-casino by police and FBI agents.

 
 

Fugitive hunted in attack on S.F. man

Tenderloin resident bludgeoned by suspect in killings of 2 gay Florida men, police say

San Francisco Chronicle

August 17, 2001

The local hunt for a fugitive suspected of killing two gay men in Florida intensified yesterday after San Francisco authorities said a Tenderloin resident apparently had been bludgeoned and choked by the man this week.

The fugitive, 19-year-old Adam Ezerski, eluded a dragnet in which police officers and district attorney's investigators canvassed the Castro and other gay neighborhoods, warning about a man who is suspected of befriending and then killing the Florida men.

The 43-year-old victim of this week's attack in San Francisco, who survived a blow to the head with a plaster statue, described his assailant as someone named Adam who seemed to be a clean-cut, nice guy down on his luck, police said.

Adam and the unidentified victim met at a Polk Street cafe, conversed with friends and watched movies before spending the night together. On Tuesday morning, after spending another night at the victim's Tenderloin apartment, Adam struck him in the head with the statue and tried to strangle him, the man said.

The man managed to fight off his assailant. Later in the day, he said, Adam called to apologize.

The victim didn't know who he was dealing with until Wednesday, when he saw a report on TV and talked to friends. He hasn't heard from
Adam since Tuesday, he told police.

Police said they are sure it was Ezerski.

"There was a latent fingerprint from a VHS video, and it has been positively identified as this guy Ezerski, so we definitely know he was there," said Inspector Dominic Celaya.

Fugitive An 'Innocent Type'

The Tenderloin man received six stitches for a head wound and was released from a hospital.

He told KRON-TV that he was lucky to be alive. "I still can't believe it. I just believe God is not through with me yet," he said.

He said Adam was "a clean-cut young man, very kind, a very genuine . . . innocent type."

The hunt for a man believed to prey on gays roused fears in the community.

"It's like Cunanan all over again," said David Dalrymple, 36, a resident of the Castro, as he took a flyer warning about Ezerski to post on his apartment complex's door.

He wasn't the only one reminded of the nationwide manhunt for Andrew Cunanan, a onetime San Francisco resident who dressed smartly, was the life of the party and lived off rich gay men. Cunanan was suspected of killing five men, including Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, before he shot himself to death in 1997.

Ezerski is believed to have killed two gay men he befriended before coming to California, one in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the other in Aventura, near Miami.

He was featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" during the weekend. FBI officials say he had already been spotted in San Francisco this week when they heard from the Tenderloin man, telling them he had awakened in his apartment at 5 a.m. Tuesday to Ezerski choking him and hitting him with the statue.

Receipt Matched License Plate

His account was bolstered when an attendant at a parking garage on Hemlock Street, an alley near where the man lives, found a receipt stub matching the license plate of a car Ezerski allegedly stole from one of the Florida victims, federal authorities said.

The red 2001 Ford Mustang was rented by Anthony Martilotto, 39, a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Florida. Martilotto checked into a Fort Lauderdale hotel with Ezerski last month. Martilotto was found strangled in his room at the Radisson Bahia Mar on July 26.

The day before, a 76-year-old man, Irving Sicherer, was found bludgeoned to death in his condominium in Aventura. Police say Ezerski had met him in the beach community near Miami and was seen with him three days before Sicherer was found dead.

Federal agents believe that Ezerski still might be driving the red Mustang rented by Martilotto, Florida license ED437F. Authorities say someone saw a man matching Ezerski's description in San Francisco on Wednesday driving the car, whose rear driver-side window was broken. There was also a sighting earlier in the week in Southern California, police said.

Ezerski is described as 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, with green eyes and brown hair that he may have bleached.

Ezerski's last known residence was in Atlantic Beach, Fla., and he is known to frequent gay bars, clubs and highway rest areas, police said.

Police Fan Out

The hunt for Ezerski extended throughout the Castro and other gay neighborhoods. Two teams of law enforcement officers, one from the Police Department and one from District Attorney Terence Hallinan's office, fanned out with "wanted for murder" flyers for merchants and residents.

"We certainly want to make sure that everyone has all the information they need to protect themselves," said Police Officer Chuck Limbert. "If he leaves, so much the better for helping save some of our own citizens."

The FBI has warned the Sonoma County sheriff's office to be on the alert in case Ezerski turns up in the Russian River resort town of Guerneville, which is frequented by gays. Hallinan's office plans to send investigators to Guerneville to distribute flyers, said chief investigator Dan Addario.

"It's more of a proactive effort," Addario said. "Maybe with our contacts, we can flush this guy out and get him."

James Bolton of Louie's Barber Shop in the Castro was pleased that police were doing so much to alert the community.

"They pay just about the right amount of attention," he said. "It just makes people aware and reminds them to look out for other people."

 
 

Anthony Martilotto, 39

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

On July 26, 2001, a maid at the Radisson Bahia Mar Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., discovered Anthony Martilotto's dead body. He had been strangled to death early that morning.

Nineteen days later, clear across the country in San Francisco, 43-year-old Kevin Begoon woke up in the middle of the night and fought off the strangler who has since admitted to killing Martilotto: 19-year-old Adam Ezerski.

Ezerski, a baby-faced drifter who established a prodigious criminal record as a juvenile and young adult, had fled across the country in Martilotto's red Mustang. Fearing that he was on an anti-gay killing spree, authorities launched a multi-state manhunt.

They caught up with Ezerski on Aug. 17 in Reno, Nev., on the opening night of that city's Gay Pride Festival. Extradited to Florida, Ezerski was charged with first-degree murder and robbery ó but not with a hate crime.

According to Fort Lauderdale Police Det. John Curio, "It appeared that Adam was a hustler who targeted the victim after meeting him at a local bar, but did not target him out of any hate for gays."

Ezerski's brother, Aaron Smith, disputed this version of events, telling reporters that his brother is a homophobic woman-chaser.

"He's not a homosexual," Smith said, adding that Ezerski had once threatened a gay acquaintance with a gun. Besides, he said, Ezerski was engaged to his girlfriend of two years. "He's always chasing girls," said Smith. By all accounts, Martilotto's life in Weston, Fla., was calmer than that of his alleged killer.

"He was a homebody," said his older brother, Roland. "He wasn't one to frequent the bars and stuff, which made it really weird that this happened. I guess it was just a bad place at a bad time."

A native New Yorker, Martilotto moved to Florida with his mother in the mid-'90s, leaving his longtime home in Staten Island. Back home, he'd worked in the stock market.

After heading south, he became a live-in helper for elderly folks. The job was a natural for Anthony, who his brother says "always thought of the other person."

"He always thought everybody was his friend, too. That's probably why he got in trouble, being good-natured and trusting people like that. Growing up in New York, most people learn to be a different way, you know, but not Anthony."

 
 


The victim
 

Anthony Martilotto, 39.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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