The third victim of an unsolved triple-homicide case that has gripped San Diego since Christmas Eve died as a result of fatal gunshot wound(s) to the head, the San Diego Police Department confirmed Friday.
The SDPD said San Diego resident-turned-missing-person Gianni Belvedere, 24, was not able to survive injuries sustained in some sort of shooting, according to preliminary findings from the Riverside Medical Examiner’s office. His final autopsy report has not yet been completed, but San Diego police said this gives new insight into how he died.
However, investigators still do not know why he was killed or who is responsible for his death, along with the slayings of his fiancée, Ilona Flint, 22, and younger brother, Salvatore Belvedere, 22.
On Dec. 24, 2013, at around 1:15 a.m., Flint and Salvatore were found critically shot in a parking lot outside the Macy’s department store at Westfield Mission Valley mall in San Diego’s Mission Valley area. Flint was pronounced dead at the scene of the Christmas Eve shooting. Salvatore died at the hospital a few days later.
A couple days after the shooting, the Belvedere family and San Diego police announced that Gianni Belvedere had gone missing. He was last seen at his home in Tierrasanta on Dec. 23, 2013, around 10 p.m. – just hours before the fatal shooting of his fiancée and brother.
For the next three weeks, police searched extensively for Gianni while his family pleaded for his safe return. The family said Gianni may have also been at the Mission Valley mall at the time of shootings of Flint and Salvatore.
The SDPD issued a missing person bulletin for Gianni, complete with a description of the Toyota Camry with Utah license plates he could have been traveling in.
On Jan. 17, the decomposed body of Gianni was found in the trunk of his Toyota Camry in Riverside, Calif., about an hour-and-a-half north of San Diego County. His car was parked in the 19500-block of Van Buren Boulevard. A passerby noticed a foul odor coming from the vehicle’s trunk area and alerted police.
Though the grim discovery brought an end to Gianni's missing person case, it also brought mounting, unanswered questions surrounding the now-triple homicide case.
Lt. Hastings said a man wearing a black hoodie with white bands in the biceps area of the sweatshirt, tan pants and white tennis shoes is believed to have been at the Mission Valley mall on Dec. 23, 2013, at around 11:15 p.m. -- about two hours before the shooting of Flint and Salvatore. Investigators believe that same man returned to the mall at 12:15 a.m. on Christmas Eve, about an hour before the shooting. Police described the suspect as an unknown race, standing 5-foot-10 to 6-foot.
At that same briefing, Lt. Hastings went on to say that San Diego police have spent hundreds of hours on this case.
“If this case can be solved, this case will be solved,” he assured.
To date, police have not arrested a suspect in connection to the slayings. Information about a possible motive for the crimes has also not been released by investigators.
Friday’s update on Gianni’s manner of death was the first bit of new information released in two weeks.
At this point, San Diego police said there would be no further details released regarding Gianni’s death until the final autopsy report is completed. A time frame for that was not disclosed.
The unsolved triple-homicide remains under investigation. Anyone with information on the case should contact the SDPD’s Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or San Diego Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.