Celebration, Florida murder mystery: Crime touches Disney-made town for first time
BY Lukas I. Alpert
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Raoux/APA reward sign near the entrance to a condominium in Celebration, Fla. where police are investigating the town's first-ever murder. An ugly dose of reality has shattered the calm at a Disney-themed Florida community after cops discovered the first homicide committed there in its history.
Residents of Celebration, Fla. - five miles south of Walt Disney World and planned as a picture-perfect community - were stunned when they awoke Tuesday to find crime scene tape near the Christmas-decorated downtown.
Cops had discovered a murder scene at the home of Matteo Giovanditto, 58, after worried neighbors had called to report he hadn't been seen for several days.
"This is very rare and unusual for a crime of this magnitude to occur in this community," said sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain.
Details of the killing have not been released, but it has sent a shiver down the spines of the town's 11,000 residents.
"I've always thought of Celebration as a very safe community," said Heather Hardy, as she read a book while sitting in a rocking chair near downtown.
The development was created in 1989 when the Disney Corp. proposed a "wonderful residential town," that would be "closer to Main Street than future world."
Critics dismissed it as a type of "Stepford Wives" project, but residents quickly fell in love after starting to arrive in 1996.
With News Wire Services
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