Naples doctor arrested on murder charge in 2019 shooting death

Published: December 16, 2021 10:43 AM EST
Updated: December 16, 2021 10:10 PM EST

After a lengthy investigation that began more than two years ago, the Vermont State Police has arrested a suspect in connection with the Nov. 1, 2019, fatal shooting of a truck driver in Rockingham, Vermont.

An arrest warrant for second-degree murder was issued on Tuesday, for Dr. Jozsef Piri, 49, of Naples.

Jozsef Piri, M.D., FACP, is listed online as being board certified in internal medicine, specializing in a variety of aspects of primary care for adults and geriatrics.

Deputies with the Collier County Sheriff’s Department assisted Vermont State Police detectives in arresting Piri on Thursday.

The murder charge arises from the shooting death of Roberto Fonseca-Rivera, 44, of Boston, Massachusetts, whose body was found behind the wheel of the Katsiroubas Produce truck he had been driving along Vermont Route 103 in Rockingham on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and neck. Piri and Fonseca-Rivera did not know each other, police say.

Through investigation, the state police learned that Piri was driving a 2018 Toyota Tundra on Vermont Route 103 in close proximity to Fonseca-Rivera’s delivery truck on the day in question. Piri lived in Connecticut at the time and was returning home from a property he owned in Londonderry, Vermont. Detectives reviewed surveillance footage, GPS data, photographs and other information to determine that Piri was driving immediately in front of Fonseca-Rivera just before the shooting occurred.

Further details of the allegations are contained in the affidavit of probable cause, which is filed in the Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court in Brattleboro. The Vermont State Police is unable to provide any additional comment on this case.

The Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit worked closely with the Windham County State’s Attorney’s Office throughout this investigation. Also participating in the case were VSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Crime Scene Search Team, Technology Investigation Unit, and Victim Services Unit; the Vermont Forensic Laboratory; the Vermont Chief Medical Examiner’s Office; the Boston Police Department; the Massachusetts State Police; the Connecticut State Police; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the FBI.

Until Thursday, Physicians Regional Medical in Collier County is where Piri practiced internal medicine.

Mary Ann Marinelli, a patient at Physicians Regional Medical, said, “I’m glad it wasn’t my doctor.”

“Just when you think where you’re going to see a doctor it’s going to be safe, all of a sudden you hear news like this. It’s very alarming,” said Oscar Matamoros, a patient at Physicians Regional Medical.

Ted Katsiroubas, CEO of Katsiroubas Produce Co., where Fonseca-Rivera worked, said in a statement:

We are pleased that a suspect has been identified two years after the horrific killing of Roberto, a good man just doing his job driving down the highway in Rockingham, VT. We are gratified that Vermont State Police stayed on this difficult investigation. We hope that justice may be done for Roberto and that it may bring his family some peace.

Piri’s arraignment in Vermont is pending his extradition from Florida and has yet to be scheduled.

WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko said building a timeline of events is critical in solving cases like this one. “What roads would he have been on? They’ll go pull credit card receipts or gas stations or restaurants he may have been at. And that’s how they build the timeline. And even if it took a while a couple years, that’s what clearly led to the arrest today in Southwest Florida.”

A court affidavit shows Piri’s GPS places him driving in front of the victim.

Police uncovered that Piri’s rear window can lower in the car from the front seat. They also found a magnetic holster in the front seat used for easy access to a weapon.

Police searched Piri’s home and found a gun consistent with the type of gun that was used to kill Fonseca- Rivera.

The motive for the shooting is unclear, but the man on the phone with the victim around the time of the shooting said he heard a honk, and then the victim driving over rumble strips then a deep inhale, and then the phone dropped.

Correction: An earlier headline incorrectly stated Piri was arrested in Vermont. He was arrested in Collier County.