LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Two recent homicides in Cape Coral were brutal and public. But now police say the homicide count has risen to three, and the reason why might surprise you. It stems from a case a decade in the making.
Police say 62 year old Heike Frank was brutally beaten by her husband in 2002 and slipped into a coma. She remained that way for ten years and last week she died.
Police consider her death a homicide, but nothing can be done because the main suspect has been dead for years.
"We were called to the hospital to a domestic violence case," said Lt. Tony Sizemore. He was a detective working Heike Frank's case ten years ago.
December 2002 the Cape Coral resident told officers, while in the hospital, her husband Thomas Frank beat her. "His frustration boiled over, and it become a crime," said Sizemore.
Thomas Frank was charged with felony battery. His wife slipped into a coma. Then, a few weeks later, Frank took his own life.
For the next ten years Heike struggled to survive. Last week, she passed away at Hope Hospice in Fort Myers.
"The Medical Examiner's office has determined that her passing was due to the coma, which if you trace it back was due to the battery that she sustained," said Sizemore.
On paper, that makes three homicides for Cape Coral this year. Last month, food salesman Nick Rainey was shot to death on the job. And just last week Cape Coral Police say 91 year old Leroy Taylor died allegedly at the hands of his own son.
Joe Viacava, a partner with The Wilbur Smith Law Firm says murder has no statute of limitations, and can be prosecuted at any time. The problem in this case, is that the main suspect is dead.
"The man has passed away, so you can't prosecute somebody who's died, so legally there's nothing to do to this gentleman because he passed away," Viacava said.
He tells WINK News if Thomas Frank were still alive, he would possibly face a charge of second degree murder or manslaughter which could have gotten him decades behind bars.