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Police: Homeless man admits bludgeoning Florida counselor to death

From John Couwels, CNN
Matteo Giovanditto was found dead in his home in Celebration, Florida.
Matteo Giovanditto was found dead in his home in Celebration, Florida.
  • NEW: Police find the "murder weapon," described as a hatchet or small ax
  • David-Israel Zenon Murillo is accused of killing his counselor in central Florida
  • He was arrested after police found out he was trying to sell the victim's coins
  • Murillo told reporters that the victim got "what was coming to him"

(CNN) -- A Florida homeless man strangled and used an ax to bludgeon to death a 58-year-old who had been counseling him, only to be arrested days later after trying to sell the victim's collector coins, police said.

David-Israel Zenon Murillo was charged with first-degree murder and dealing in stolen property on Monday, five days after Matteo Giovanditto was found dead in his home, a spokeswoman for the Osceola County Sheriff's Department said.

Following tips from Murillo, detectives found "the murder weapon," which sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain described as a hatchet or small ax.

The murder was the first ever recorded in the 14-year history of Celebration, a Disney-developed town five miles south of the Magic Kingdom.

While being led into court Monday, Murillo accused Giovanditto of attempting to sexually assault him, saying "he tried to put something in my drink while I was over there."

"He was a sick, sick man," Murillo said. "He had what was coming to him."

The sheriff's spokeswoman, Twis Lizasuain, said that Murillo was a transient, living most recently in a wooded area near Kissimmee, Florida.

Giovanditto was a counselor who worked with Murillo, and even had a small head-shot of the suspect among those on his computer. The two had known one another for the past year, Lizasuain said.

Man arrested in 'Disney' murder
Murder in Celebration

Giovanditto was found dead in his apartment on November 29, and a tip led police the next day to his vehicle in Kissimmee, about 10 miles west.

Osceola County Sheriff's deputies brought Murillo in for questioning on Sunday, after discovering that he'd tried to sell some of Giovanditto's coins.

Murillo told police that the two were together on November 24, when he "became enraged and struck Giovanditto with an ax that he found in a closet," a sheriff's department statement said. He admitted he continued to hit the victim, even slamming his head into the kitchen floor.

The medical examiner's office later concluded that Giovanditto died from blunt force trauma and strangulation, according to the release.

The next day, after getting a search warrant, police found Giovanditto's iPad, cash and collector's coins at Murillo's campsite in Kissimmee.

Investigators on Monday searched a canal in the area, looking for more evidence based on information from Murillo, as well as a lake near his campsite, Lizasuain said.

She said police canvassing the campsite have already found "significant evidence that corroborated what the suspect told the detectives."

Murillo is fully cooperating with the detectives," said Lizasuain. "We have a great deal of information (because of) what he has provided to them."

Days after Giovanditto's death, police stormed the house of another Celebration resident, Craig Foushee, after a standoff. Foushee killed himself, police said. The two incidents, while unrelated, rattled residents of the picture-perfect town.

"It does have a unique flavor or flair that isn't found in a lot of places," resident Chris Stellwag said last week of Celebration. "(But) it's not like living at Disney World. It's a real town, (with) real issues."