August 6, 2004: 4 Men Murder a Family For An X-Box


WHAT HAPPENED?


On August 6, 2004, 4 men broke into a Deltona, Florida home and bludgeoned 6 victims to death. They were inspired by the film Wonderland about the Wonderland Murders. They tortured and killed 4 men, 2 women, and a dog inside the home.


Their motive was partially revenge. One of the victims, Erin Belanger, had evicted Troy Victorino from her grandmother's then-vacant house, and he was angry. The other motive was recovering an X-box game console that he had left behind.


A jury found Troy Victorino, as well as Robert Cannon, Jerone Hunter, and Micheal Salas of the massacre in 2006. Though 2 of them were initially sentenced to death, their death sentences are attempting to be overturned. However, the prosecution hopes to land on a death sentence yet again.

THE KILLERS


Troy Victorino, a 6 foot 6 300-pound gang leader was on probation at the time of the murders. He had been jailed many times before, serving an 11-year stint for an assault 8 years earlier. He had a history of child abuse and sexual abuse beginning at age 2. Experts believed that his mental development and brain damage prevented him from controlling impulses. Drugs, violence, abuse, and lack of parental care were common throughout his childhood.


Jerome Hunter was clinically depressed and mentally ill, and both of his parents were in mental hospitals at the time of the massacre. He hallucinated his brother who died at the age of 6 months as early as age 3, but his family did nothing about his odd behavior. It is believed he might be schizophrenic.


Micheal Salas had various issues documented by child protective services, as he was exposed to violence and drug use in his home, as well as abuse and malnourishment. His dad died of AIDS when he was a kid. He had bipolar disorder among other mental health conditions and dropped out of school in 9th grade.


There is no information about Robert Cannon.

PREPARING FOR AND CARRYING OUT THE MASSACRE


While Erin Belanger's grandparents were away, Troy Victorino and Jerone Hunter were squatting in the house, using it as a party house. Erin had police evict the squatters and boxed up the belongings they had left behind.


Victorino believed Erin had "robbed" him of his belongings, though he had left them in a house he didn't own and was illegally staying in. Whenever he would try to come get his things, Erin would call the police. He said that was disrespectful, and he was a Latin King and gang leader, and he wouldn't be disrespected like that.


A week before the murders, the gun that Victorino planned to use to carry out the murders was found to not have enough ammunition. Instead, he rounded up 15 baseball bats from neighborhood children to use. 2 days before the massacre, a store clerk remembered the group being rowdy and laughing, leaving the store with the baseball bats in hand. They were talking about how to crush skulls, bash faces and knock in teeth.


Inside the house were 6 people. Erin Belanger, 22, lived there with her boyfriend, Francisco Ayo-Ramon, 30, and her friend, 19-year-old Michelle Nathan, and her boyfriend, 34-year-old Anthony Vega. They had 2 friends staying the night, 28-year-old Roberto Gonzalez and 17-year-old Jonathan Gleason.


Jonathan was on the recliner when the crew stormed into the house, and was quickly and fatally stabbed in the next by Hunter. Then, Victorino beat Fransisco with an aluminum bat. Hunter then moved to Roberto, who was fatally beat in the head with the bat, and then stabbed in the chest and stomach.


Anthony was bludgeoned and stabbed in the throat while his girlfriend, Michelle hid in the closet. However, she was found and pleaded for her life... but it didn't work. She was beaten with the bat and then killed with a knife.


Victorino found the object of his rage, Erin, in the master bedroom. He fatally beat and stabbed her, and then raped her body with the bat. The family's dog, a Daschund, was found stomped to death near Erin's body.


"It was straight out of a horror movie," the lead prosecutor said, recalling the images of the crime scene. He said it was the "most horrendous crime scene I had ever seen and I have been at this for 50 years."

THE TRIAL


The 4 men's trials ended on August 2, 2006, where Victorino and Hunter, the killers, were sentenced to die by lethal injection, and Cannon and Salas were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was 26 at the time of the killings.


Victorino was found guilty of 6 counts of first degree murder, abuse of a dead human body, armed burglary, and animal cruelty. Hunter was found guilty of all 6 murders and a few charges. He was the youngest inmate on death row in Florida at the time. He was only 18 at the time of the murders.


Cannon pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 6 life sentences for a slew of charges, and Salas was found guilty in his trial and also received life in prison without parole.


On June 14, 2017, it was announced that Victorino and Hunter would receive new sentencing hearings, as their death sentence was not a unanimous decision, and must be. However, prosecutors plan to seek the death sentence for the 2 men yet again.

THE VICTIMS


Erin Belanger had just moved to Deltona from New England to start a new life with her boyfriend, whom she had met at their mutual job at Burger King. She had come to Florida to care for her grandmother's summer home. Though her boyfriend, Francisco Ayo Roman didn't speak much English, and she spoke no Spanish, family members said they were extremely in love and didn't let the language barrier stand in their way.


Jonathan Gleason didn't live at the home, but was simply staying there for the night. He spoke 3 languages, wanted to be an actor and musician, and planned to be a doctor, planning to go to a volunteer medical trip to Africa.


Anthony Vega was known for his sense of humor and joke telling. He had moved from the Bronx to escape dangerous neighborhoods. He met Michelle Nathan at Burger King, and they moved into the house together. Michelle was only 19, but wanted to marry her boyfriend and was excited to live alone. She was known as a princess by her parents, and she had a princess tattoo on her arm, which her father replicated on himself after her death.


Roberto Gonzalez planned to get his 7-year-old daughter from the Bronx once he was established in Florida. He was just staying overnight so he could make it on time to his painting job with Anthony the following morning.


This murder is just pure evil, and 4 people agreed it was a good idea. Angered by something so trivial, and so reasonable, 4 men decided to get aluminum baseball bats to go bludgeon and stab 6 people and a dog to death. Because they had been kicked out a home they weren't legally allowed to be staying in.


It is insane how some events affect others. In 1981, the Wonderland Murders took place in Los Angeles, California. They were brutal and gruesome and horrific. And then, 24 years later, another group of people who had seen a movie about the event would decide they, too, wanted to carry out a bloody massacre. Though they shoulder all of the blame, the 6 victims at the Deltona house can be seen as sort of extended victims from Wonderland.


These victims were innocent. They were all working, trying to make something of their lives and be good people. And one woman asked 2 squatters to leave the property she was supposed to be caring for, and it resulted in the horrifying murders of 6 people and a pet.


Male rage, people. It is a dangerous thing.

REFERENCES:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deltona_massacre

2. https://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20180810/14-years-later-2004-deltona-massacre-resonates

3. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orl-deltona-massacre-victims-pg-082709-photogallery.html


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