Ex-footballer Tony Joiner and girlfriend's toxic relationship ended with her brutal murder on Valentine's Day in 2016
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA: Three years after a Florida woman became a victim of domestic abuse and was told that she could become a victim of homicide next, she was found dead in a pool of blood in her apartment with a gunshot wound inside her right eye.
The premise of Oxygen's 'Cold Case: Valentine's Day Violence' revolves around the murder of Heyzel Obando, a mother of two, on Valentine's Day 2016. The body was discovered by her boyfriend, Tony Joiner, a former University of Florida football player, who was also the prime suspect in the case. He was also the one who dialed 911.
Police said that officers worked with the television series and the Office of the State Attorney to make the arrest.
Kelly Siegler, a prosecutor and Tonya Rider, a homicide investigator, together with Sargent Lesa Breneman and Detective Maalisa Langton, concluded at the end, after going through all the evidence that the Fort Myers Police Department had gathered from the crime scene, that it was Joiner who had killed the victim.
One of the facts in the case that pointed the investigators toward Joiner from the very start was the fact that he had a history of domestic violence against Obando. One of the instances where he was accused of assaulting the victim was on June 18, 2013.
Officer Christian Reynolds, one of the detectives who responded to a report of domestic violence between Joiner and Obando in the parking lot of a local shopping center on the day was interviewed in the documentary. He said that Joiner's ex-girlfriend had called him and hence an argument ensued between him and the victim.
"She threw the phone down on the ground. This upset him. He reacted and lost control of himself and attacked Ms. Obando. She looked pretty badly beaten up. Blood all over her face, arms, chest and nose," Reynolds said.
He added that usually when they responded to domestic violence calls, the victims would have blood on their bodies. However, in Obando's case, she not only was covered in blood herself but there were also specks of blood on her car and the ground.
When interrogated by the police, Joiner said that he never attacked his girlfriend. He had only charged at her and after he lost his balance, he fell on top of her in the car.
At this, Siegler said that she thought Joiner's excuse for domestic violence was "ridiculous."
Reynolds continued, saying that he had warned the victim at the time that domestic abuse cases often ended up in murder. "I did discuss with her that domestic violence progressively gets worse. Sometimes it comes to homicide," he said.
It was reported last year that Joiner remained in Lee County Jail on no bond after entering a plea of not guilty in the court.
Interestingly, Tony Joiner is the second player from the University of Florida's football team to have been arrested for murder. His teammate Aaron Hernandez was infamously convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2015.
Following the arrest of Joiner, which was documented in the production, the Fort Myers Police Department thanked Oxygen's TV series for footing the bill for additional DNA testing and bringing in experts to re-analyze the evidence which helped authorities link Joiner to the murder.
Joiner's defense attorney, on the other hand, found the show's involvement in the case to be bizarre and heavily criticized the police department's conduct in the murder investigation.
"This is outrageous conduct from a law enforcement agency," Brown told the News-Press. "It's distasteful and highly unusual for them to hand over evidence to a private, for-profit business."