The mysterious killings of local residents Ilona Flint, Salvatore Belvedere and Gianni Belvedere have rocked San Diego. Now, more than a month into this unsolved case, many questions remain unanswered as the San Diego Police Department continues to put together pieces of the puzzle.
Here’s a timeline of key events in this triple homicide case, which first began on the early hours of Christmas Eve with a deadly shooting outside Westfield Mission Valley Mall.
Dec. 24, 2013 – The Christmas Eve Shooting:
At around 1:15 a.m., Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22 years old, are critically shot in a parking lot outside the Macy’s department store at San Diego’s Mission Valley Mall. Despite being shot in the head, Flint manages to call 911 to report the shooting, telling dispatchers she’s injured near the mall. Minutes later, officers locate the wounded duo inside a vehicle in the 1600-block of Camino Del Rio North. Flint is pronounced dead at the scene. Salvatore, suffering life-threatening gunshot wounds to the head and torso, is transported to a local hospital. SDPD Lt. Mike Hastings holds a briefing on the Christmas Eve shooting and says police are looking for a possible suspect, described as a 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 man wearing tan pants.
Dec. 26, 2013 – Gianni Belvedere is Missing:
Two days after the parking lot shooting, the families of both Flint and Salvatore hold a brief news conference announcing that 24-year-old Gianni Belvedere – Sal’s older brother and Flint’s fiancé – has gone missing. Police confirm Gianni was last seen on Dec. 23 around 10 p.m. at his Tierrasanta home. “Gianni, we need you to come home,” pleads one family member, between tears. "Please call us." Investigators confirm the Christmas Eve shooting does not appear to be connected to any sort of robbery. Lt. Hastings says a possible vehicle of interest in the case is a 2008-2011 dark gray Honda sedan.
Dec. 27, 2013 – Salvatore Succumbs to Injuries, Search Continues for Gianni:
The Belvedere family confirms that Sal has died from injuries sustained in the Christmas Eve shooting. Police say they’re still searching for Gianni, and issue a missing person bulletin describing Gianni as an Italian-American man with brown hair and brown eyes. He’s 6 feet tall, 165 pounds and likely driving a four-door, dark green 2004 Toyota Camry XLE with the Utah license plate B154VZ. The Belvedere family says Gianni may have also been at the mall with Flint and Sal at the time of the shooting.
Dec. 28, 2013 – Vigil Held for Flint:
Loved ones hold a public candlelight vigil for Flint at La Jolla Shores. Friends describe Flint as a loyal friend and hard worker. Friend Andre Briones tells NBC 7 that Flint and Gianni had been dating for about eight years and were engaged to be married. Both Flint and the Belvedere brothers were originally from Utah. Flint moved to San Diego after Gianni and his family relocated here from Utah. Briones also says the Belvedere brothers would often take turns picking Flint up from work and says the trio were the best of friends.
Jan. 1, 2014 – Vigil Held for Sal:
Approximately 100 loved ones gather at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach at sunset on New Year’s Day to pay tribute to Sal in an emotional vigil. The family says Crystal Pier was one of Sal's favorite surfing spots. The Belvederes also say Gianni is still missing and announce that a reward for information leading to his safe return has climbed to $10,000. "If you've seen the car, seen him, think you've seen him, please report it to Crime Stoppers, San Diego PD, to the news media, anybody," Gianni's uncle Paul Donato pleads. "We need any clues we can get our hands on to bring him home to put a little closure to this whole nightmare that we're living right now."
Jan. 7, 2014 – No Gianni, No Anwers:
Two weeks to the date of the shooting outside Mission Valley Mall, investigators say there is still no trace of Gianni. Lt. Hastings tells NBC 7 that this is one of the most unusual cases he’s seen in his 20-year career. Officials also confirm that Gianni’s cell phone and credit cards have not been used since he vanished.
Jan. 17, 2014 – Body Found in Trunk of Missing Man’s Car in Riverside, Calif.:
The dark green Toyota Camry with the Utah license plate described in the SDPD’s missing person bulletin for Gianni is found in Riverside, Calif., about an hour-and-a-half north of San Diego County. A passerby calls authorities at around 11:45 a.m. and reports that a foul odor is coming from the trunk area of vehicle, which is parked at a shopping center. When officers arrive on scene, they open the trunk and find the decomposed body of a man inside. On Jan. 18, a Belvedere family member confirms the victim in the trunk is Gianni. The SDPD says it’s working with the Riverside Police Department on this development. An autopsy is scheduled for the following week.
Jan. 23, 2014 – Confirmed by PD: Victim in Trunk is Gianni:
Police officially confirm that the man found dead in the trunk of the car in Riverside is, in fact, missing San Diego resident Gianni Belvedere. The cause of death is not released but detectives clarify that Gianni was a victim of homicide.
Jan. 24, 2014 – New Suspect Details Released, Police Determined to Solve Case:
At a press conference, SDPD Lt. Mike Hastings releases more details of a possible suspect tied to the triple homicide case. He says the suspect – seen at Westfield Mission Valley on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24, 2013 – is a man wearing a black hoodie with white bands in the biceps area of the sweatshirt, tan pants and white tennis shoes. He is described as standing 5-foot-10 to 6-feet-tall. It's believed the suspect was at the Mission Valley mall at 11:15 p.m. the night before the shooting of Flint and Sal and then returned to the mall at 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 24. Lt. Hastings assures the Belvedere family and the public that the SDPD is working diligently to find answers and says investigators have spent hundreds of hours on the case. “If this case can be solved, this case will be solved,” Lt. Hastings says.
Feb. 7, 2014 -- SDPD Confirms Gianni Suffered Shot(s) to Head:
In the first bit of new information released in two weeks, the SDPD confirms that Gianni died as a result of gunshot wound(s) to the head, according to preliminary findings from an autopsy. The autopsy has not yet been completed by the Riverside Medical Examiner, so police say this is the only insight into Gianni's manner of death at this time.
At this point, we now wait. No further information has been released on the triple killings, though the SDPD says investigators will continue briefing the media when there are major developments.