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Relationships A Mess Worth Making

THE END OF THE ROAD; Tina Caronna had a life blessed with money and fast cars. But someone was about to put the brakes on…

Byline: WORDS:
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 SHORTLAND

Tina Caronna’s huge smile said it all. She was living the high
life and loving it.

Tina had a devoted husband Joe and together they were busy spending
their money on Tina’s two passions – fast cars and shoes.

When she was found dead on the backseat of her truck, everyone
thought that her flashy lifestyle had led to a car-jacking that had gone
horribly wrong for her.

But Tina, 44, was still dripping in expensive jewellery, so just
what was the killer after? Joe and Tina met in 1993. She was divorced
with a four year old son, Todd. Joe was also divorced and managed a shoe
shop where Tina was a regular customer. They married just months into
their relationship.

Despite never graduating from college, Tina managed to work her way
up the career ladder to become a vice president at a financial firm
earning around $200,000 a year. Joe moved into finance too and ran his
own company, Caronna Investments. He was so charming that friends and
Tina handed over their hard earned cash for him to invest.

The Caronna’s social life revolved around their beloved
collection of cars. Along with many others, they owned three Corvettes
and were members of the Memphis
Corvette
 small warship, classed between a frigate and a sloop-of-war. Corvettes usually were flush-decked and carried fewer than 28 guns. They were widely employed in escorting convoys and attacking merchant ships during the great naval wars of the late 18th and
 club, travelling to events
regularly. The couple enjoyed luxury cruises and trips to casinos.
Friends commented how Tina and Joe were always holding hands. Joe was
always buying Tina jewellery or flowers. Some family members thought it
was
possessive
  
adj.
1. Of or relating to ownership or possession.

2. Having or manifesting a desire to control or dominate another, especially in order to limit that person’s relationships with others:
 behaviour but others said Tina was just as devoted to her
‘Joe-Joe.’ Then on October 25 2008, Tina disappeared.

Two days later Tina was found dead in the backseat of her
Chevrolet
Avalanche

. She was wrapped in blankets. An autopsy would later show she
died of
asphyxiation
 /as·phyx·i·a·tion/ () suffocation; the stoppage of respiration.



Oxygen starvation of tissues.
.

Joe was devastated and told everyone it was probably a gang-related

carjacking
 categorizes the crime of carjacking as a “completed or attempted Robbery of a motor vehicle by a stranger
 that had gone wrong. But the police disagreed. Tina had her
hands loosely bound with
duct tape

n.
A usually silver adhesive tape made of cloth mesh coated with a waterproof material, originally designed for sealing heating and air-conditioning ducts.

Noun 1.
, and was still wearing thousands of
dollars worth of jewellery. She was also found in a safe residential
suburb of Memphis – far from being a centre of violent crime.

When Tina was buried fellow Corvette enthusiasts lined the streets.
Joe insisted the event was kept light hearted – but some thought it was
too upbeat. He also threw away things at home that belonged to Tina like
her Bible and birth certificate.

But no one could question how devoted he was to his wife while she
was alive. Joe showered Tina with gifts and when they were seen together
they were life love struck teenagers. So the next revelation would come
as a huge shock. Joe was having an affair with a woman the couple both
knew from church.

Becky Black had been Joe’s mistress for over eight years. He
paid her compliments and was generous with gifts just as he was with
Tina. But after Tina was killed, Joe became more demanding and his
change in attitude made her suspicious. She went to the police. By now
the police already had Joe as their prime suspect. They tried to catch
him out by making Becky wear a wire, but Joe wasn’t going down that
easily. ‘Do you love me more than you did her?’ Becky asked.
‘Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I love you more than I’ve ever
loved anybody,’ he replied. Joe’s betrayal of his wife was
telling but investigators didn’t believe that was the motive.

Then they discovered Tina was planning to buy a house and the
purchase should have gone through just a week before the murder. But Joe
knew it couldn’t, he had been keeping an even bigger secret from
Tina; he didn’t even have a mortgage approved. Joe had been
scamming people through his company.

He wasn’t investing the money given to him by people who
trusted him. He was spending it and covering it up in an elaborate fraud
scheme. His clients had no idea they’d lost thousands. The total
scam looked as though it amounted to around $780,000. If Tina had dug
around a bit more to find out why the house buy was stalling, she would
have discovered Joe’s lies. The police had found their motive.

Five months after the murder, police went to search the
Caronna’s home for evidence and discovered that Joe had
disappeared. A warrant was issued for his arrest and after 17 days he
was tracked down just 77 miles away in a hotel. He was charged with
first-degree murder. It would take four years to get to trial.

The jury heard how Tina suffered a traumatic death, as it would
have taken a while to be
asphyxiated
  
v. as·phyx·i·at·ed, as·phyx·i·at·ing, as·phyx·i·ates

v.tr.
To cause asphyxia in; smother.

v.intr.
To undergo asphyxia; suffocate.
. They also heard how Tina was
wearing $30,000 worth of rings. The Avalanche was also locked with
Tina’s body inside – why would a robber do that? Despite a lack of
evidence a case was built against Joe

An inmate of Joe’s called John
Bowers

 claimed that Joe had
confessed to killing someone. He said Joe admitted that they’d
argued at home. It had escalated and when Tina got into the Avalanche,
he ducted taped her and put a bag over her head. ‘He said he messed
up and left her jewellery on,’ John Bowers added. It was a risk to
use a convict as a witness but the jury believed him. They agreed that
Joe had become desperate as the house deal edged closer. He was about to
be exposed for who he really was.

Joe Caronna was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He
was told he’d be eligible for parole after 51 years. In February
2013, Joe, now 48, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, insurance fraud and

money laundering

. Witnesses described how he’d taken thousands from
people who were relying on the money for their retirement, or even to
care for their sick children. He used the proceeds to buy a collection
of sports cars.

Joe received another seven years in prison. Motivated by greed and
deceit, Joe Caronna had created a life in the fast lane that was
terribly flawed. Tina had no idea that she was along for the deadly
ride.

It looked like a car-jacking gone wrong, but Tina was still
wearing $30,000 of jewellery

CAPTION(S):

Affection… Joe Caronna, left, showered his wife, Tina, right,
with gifts and together they acted like love-struck teenagers

Corvette enthusiast Tina always had an infectious smile

Joe driving one of his Corvettes

Tina’s mother Clara Murphy (above, left) hugs one of
Tina’s best friends after Joe is convicted of first degree murder
and right, Tina smiling, as she often was.

Joe Caronna in court as he waits to be sentenced for the murder of
his wife, Tina.

Tim Lane – Relationships a Mess Worth Making

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