Key figure in San Diego mall slayings may be dead

Jan. 18, 2014 at 10:29 AM

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Jan. 18 (UPI) -- California investigators said they found a body in the trunk of a car sought in the Christmas Eve shooting deaths of two people at a San Diego shopping mall.

The identity of the body, found Friday, had not been officially released early Saturday, but San Diego police said the car belonged to Gianni Belvadere, 24, who disappeared Dec. 24 while on a last-minute Christmas shopping trip that ended with his fiance and brother being gunned down in their car.

Belvadere's car was located Friday in the parking lot of a strip mall in Riverside County after shoppers reported a suspicious odor coming from the trunk. The Riverside County Coroner's Office told the San Diego U-T the case was being investigated as a homicide.

Belvadere had been considered a missing person in the case, although San Diego police had not discounted the possibility he could become a suspect. No possible motives for deaths of Salvatore Belvadere, 22, and Ilona Flint were publicly discussed, the U-T said.

The mortally wounded Flint was able to call 911 after being shot but died before providing police with much information.

Gianni Belvadere was not at the scene when the first responding officers arrived. His family had made repeated public appeals for help locating Gianni, whom they considered a potential kidnapping victim.

San Diego detectives traveled to the city of Riverside Friday to assist police in the investigation.

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