The wrong woman was killed in a bungled murder-for-hire plot arranged by a woman who had been scorned by a man. Ishnar Marie Lopez, 35, was upset that the "man she loved" was in a relationship with another woman so she plotted to have her murdered, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said.
Lopez hired 35-year-old Alexis Ramos and his 22-year-old girlfriend Glorianmarie Quinones Montes to kill the woman.
The couple tracked down the woman they believed to be Lopez's intended target as she left a Ross Dress For Less store at a Kissimmee mall, near Orlando, on Sunday (7 January) night.
The pair then followed 42-year-old Janice Zengotita-Torres home and forced her into the back of her vehicle.
Ramos and Montes drove the victim to an apartment near The Mall at Millenia in Orlando. Gibson said the couple eventually realised they had nabbed the wrong person.
"However, the suspects continued with their plan of murder and tied the victim with zip ties and then (covered) her head in duct tape and garbage bags," the sheriff said. Gibson said Ramos proceeded to beat the victim until she was unconscious. The victim suffocated from the garbage bags on her head.
The suspects drove Zengotita-Torres' vehicle to Ormond Beach on either Sunday night or early Monday (8 January), the Associated Press reported. The dumped the victim's body, which was later found by cable workers. The couple abandoned the vehicle in Orange County.
Zengotita-Torres' family reported her missing on Monday morning, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Lopez was arrested Friday (12 January) when she attempted to use an ATM card. Meanwhile, Ramos and Montes were arrested at a hotel near Orlando. Gibson said all three suspects confessed.
Investigators contacted the intended victim and offered her protective services, but she declined, the sheriff said.
Gibson, who became emotional during the news conference while talking about the victim, said she came to Kissimmee with her husband, teenage son and mother. "She was the target of a senseless act of violence in which she was robbed of her life," he said.
The suspects had moved to central Florida from Puerto Rico in December. The three are being held in the Osceola County Jail on murder charges.