BY BUDDY NEVINS
Jerry Frank Townsend has an IQ of roughly 50 to 60.
Police detectives claimed in 1979 that Townsend knew what he was doing when he confessed to six murders and one rape in Broward and Dade County.
The mother of one of those murder victims, 13-year-old Sonja Marion, later asked that the case be reopened and the file landed in the lap of Det. John Curcio of Fort Lauderdale. Curcio’s investigation cleared Townsend after semen in the child’s shorts was found to be that of another convicted murderer.
Further DNA testing cleared Townsend of other murders. He was freed in 2001 after 22 years in prison.
Curcio will be recognized April 12 by the Innocence Project of Florida, a group that works to free innocent people from prison.
Det. John Curcio
One of the nation’s legendary homicide detectives, Curcio joined the Fort Lauderdale Police in 1980 as a patrol officer. He quickly worked his way up to homicide detective.
“I was always one of those guys who wanted to be a policeman since I was a kid,” Curcio told the A & E Network, which included him in “The First 48” documentary show on homicide detectives.
Describing his weirdest case for the Sun-Sentinel last year, Curcio told the story of a 1990s era suspect that killed a woman and carried the victim’s head in a bag for days. The suspect even bought the woman’s head sunglasses and earrings after her death.
Curcio retired from the Fort Lauderdale Police after 29 years. Ten days later, he took a job at the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He told A & E he enjoys the job today as much as he did in 1980.
An animal lover who once owned 50 birds, Curcio is married with three children.
He told the Sun-Sentinel in an interview last year that outside of work, “I am a very boring person.”
Curcio will be honored during a Night of Comedy on April 13 benefitting the Innocence Project. Tickets can be purchased at FloridaInnocence.org.
Here is the flyer for the event (click to enlarge):