First Homicide Shakes Celebration, Florida
It's one of the most attractive communities in America, a town custom-built to reflect traditional Norman Rockwell values.
The village of Celebration, near Orlando, Florida, is a master-planned community designed by Disney to be the ideal small town in America. It's supposed to be paradise on Earth, a utopia. But now reality is setting in, and residents are unsettled.
Celebration was founded by the Walt Disney Company in 1996, just five miles from Disney World.
Families moving to the brand-new community were told they were returning to "a time of innocence." And to many, the community was indeed paradise.
But two weeks ago, the village was rocked by its first-ever homicide. A retired teacher was found slain in his apartment.
A homeless man has been charged with attacking the victim with an ax and then strangling him. He claims the teacher tried to sexually assault him.
"I don't know. Just something came over me, I don't know what happened," he told reporters.
In another violent incident a few days later, police actually deployed a tank during a siege of the home of an armed ex-airline pilot, reportedly depressed over the breakup of his marriage. He later killed himself.
The crimes have stunned residents of the community with the family-friendly lifestyle.
But like the rest of America, Celebration has been adversely affected by the economic slump.
One indication of the hard times...the local cinema shut its doors recently.
Resident Dawn Peraino says the real-estate business is slow too.
She and husband Greg insist that life in Celebration is still idyllic, despite the recent shocking crimes. But they realize no community is perfect.
"All of a sudden you get crime, you're like, 'Oh. We are just like everybody else.' "
Celebration has a population of about 10,000 people