How Detectives Solved the Cold Case Murder of Joseph DiMare, the Florida Produce Tycoon Killed by His Wife

Miami-Dade Police Dept.

The three detectives who solved the decades-old cold case killing of Joseph DiMare speak to Inside Edition Digital about how they determined it was his wife, Frances DiMare, who killed her husband all those years ago.

The cold case killing of a Florida produce tycoon found shot dead in his car in a mystery that has haunted the Miami-Dade area for 62 years has finally been solved, police tell Inside Edition Digital. 

His wife, Frances DiMare, was behind the killing of her 53-year-old husband, Joseph DiMare, in 1961, officials say, in what the Miami-Dade detectives who picked up the investigation into the decades-old case say they consider a success. 

"This is a case that the Miami Police Department's cold case unit has been investigating for many, many, many years," Det. Jonathan Grossman tells Inside Edition Digital. “It sort of resurfaced a few years ago and we finally have been able to come to the conclusion that Frances DiMare was the person who orchestrated and [was] responsible for Joseph's death. During the course of the years of investigating, we dot our I's and cross our T's and we make sure that there's no one [else], that we haven't missed something, we didn't overlook something and we tried to come up with any possible lead that still existed so that we can do those before we make an official announcement as the one we did yesterday.”

On March 24, 1961, Frances DiMare arrived at a gas station in the Miami-Dade area barefoot and in need of a phone. She called police, who she told that two armed men got into her and her husband's car at an intersection and pointed a gun to her head, demanding that she drive. She did as she was told, she said, and drove to an empty lot, where the men demanded all her belongings before hitting her over the head with a gun. 

She was knocked unconscious, she told police, and when she regained consciousness, she found Joseph dead. She ran from the car to get help, stopping once she arrived at the gas station, where she called for help, she said. Her husband was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in their car, officials say. 

But the widow's story didn't add up. She claimed to have ran from the car in a bid to get help as quickly as possible, traveling across a gravel road and through a field to make it to the gas station. But there were no signs of any cuts or scrapes on the soles of her feet, investigators say. And her shoes were found neatly placed beside the car. 

“They also did explore at the time whether her story or her version of events that night made sense. And one of the avenues that we're talking about is the injuries to her finger, the lack thereof, having to run through the field," Grossman says. "They actually had a female officer who [was] her stature, take off her shoes and socks and run through that same field. And at the conclusion of that, her feet were bruised, bloodied, and she had sustained injuries taking the same sort of task that we suspect Francis had taken.”

As the investigation progressed, police learned that 33-year-old Francis and her husband, who was 20 years her senior, were having marital issues. Investigators say that forensic evidence later confirmed that Joseph was shot with a gun that he owned and that the shooting occurred at home, in the couple's garage.

Police say the pistol that was used to kill Joseph was discarded, "perhaps into the waterway under the two bridges that Frances DiMare drove over on her short path." Detectives also say that as the car was driven from the DiMare home to the location where it was found, blood ran down out of the vehicle and left a trail.

The location where the car was found was just about three to four minutes from the couple’s Florida home, according to police. Detectives believe Frances drove the car to the empty area it was found and then exited while leaving her gloves and purse in the car.

After meeting with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and agreeing that there is no credible evidence to support that anyone other than Frances is responsible for the killing of Joseph DiMare, officials let the public know that the cold case had been solved. 

“It's just a fresh set of eyes, with advances in technology sometimes, and just the atmosphere," says Det. Juan Segovia, who along with Grossman and Det. David Denmark and took up the task of solving the killing. "So the combination of all those things that I think result in different outcomes now as compared to back then."

Grossman notes that today's advances in technology helped bring the case to close and that it was the firearm that connected her to the crime.

“Based on the background and context of the crime, the physical evidence from the vehicle, which includes the injuries to Mr. DiMare, the inconsistent statements made by Mrs. DiMare, the motive for killing her husband was due to an impending divorce, and the fact that he was killed with his own firearm,” police are confident that Frances was responsible for her husband's murder, officials said in a news release.

Frances DiMare died in 2006. Joseph DiMare is survived by his one child, Richard, who was "relieved" to learn that his father's murder had been solved, even if it meant his stepmother was the one responsible. 

“Our main goal in cold case is closure,” says Denmark, who was the first investigator to recently express interest in reexamining the case. “We would love to have an arrest and prosecution and [someone] found guilty and all that good kind of stuff. But since these cases go from the '50s till now, it's just something that we can do that brings satisfaction to us and to the families is to close the case.”

Getting answers for Richard DiMare was the main driving factor in the three detectives' investigation, Grossman says. "We made contact with Richard, we heard it in his voice and we wanted to do what we could and we were able to finally get to this point. So we're certainly happy and proud. And more importantly for Richard,” Grossman says. “I think he kind of felt like it took a while to get here. I think he's happy we're here. I think he would've obviously preferred to see her in handcuffs, but we still do what we can."

Now, the detectives have turned their attention to the other cases that need to be solved—regardless of if the person responsible is able to be held accountable. 

“We have a lot of cases where our subjects are deceased, but that doesn't stop us from pursuing what actually happened and provide those answers to whatever family is still around," Grossman says. "We don't look at a case and say, ‘oh, the subject's dead, let's not look at this one. Cause we can't make an arrest.’ The family, regardless, still deserves to know what happened to their loved one. And that's what we do.

“This team that's been put together, it tries to do what we can to provide as many closures as possible to these families who deserve it, who've been waiting years and years and years," he continues. "And the work that we're doing just emphasizes that because it very much appreciated by the families in, and sometimes we just contact them at the end and they say, ‘You're still looking into this, we thought you guys had forgotten about it.'"

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