Produced by Paul LaRosa, Murray Weiss and Sabina Castelfranco
In June 2000, Enrico “Chico” Forti, an Italian television producer and former windsurfing champion was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in the 1998 killing of Dale Pike, an Australian who had traveled to Miami to meet with Forti about business deal. Few Americans have ever heard his name, but as “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty reports, in Italy, his case has been compared to that of— a foreign national living abroad convicted of a murder with very little evidence.
A MURDER IN MIAMI
The 1998 murder of Dale Pike has always been and is, to this day, a true murder mystery.
Brad Pike is Dale’s younger brother.
Brad Pike: Always questions, always questions … I also don’t think I’ll ever know the truth.
What is known is that someone shot Dale Pike twice in the back of the head with a .22 and left his naked body on a quiet stretch of beach on Virginia Key, minutes from Key Biscayne. Sean Crowley, a former captain with the NYPD, is now a private investigator.
Sean Crowley: Virginia Key is a common place for windsurfers.
On Feb. 16, 1998, a beachgoer found Dale’s body.
Sean Crowley: He sees an indentation in the sand from the water line into the vegetation, but in that indentation, he sees blood stains all along.
Erin Moriarty: So, all the way from … the edge of the water all the way to vegetation.
Sean Crowley: Correct.
Erin Moriarty: He’s found completely naked?
Sean Crowley: Completely naked, yes … his shirt was a little off to the side but bloodied and then … some key pieces … of evidence … were under his body or right next to his body.
Crowley, who works for Joe Tacopina — Enrico Forti’s current laywer — believes the killer or killers staged the crime scene with obvious clues so the body would be quickly identified: a boarding pass with Dale’s name on it, a pendant from Pikes hotel in Ibiza, Spain, and a phone calling card with only one number dialed. That number belonged to Forti, better known as “Chico,” an Italian television producer living in Miami.
Dale Pike murder: Evidence photos in the case against Enrico Forti
In 1998, Dale Pike came to Miami to discuss a business deal with Enrico Forti — the next day he was dead, and Forti was the prime suspect
Joe Tacopina: As if to say to the police just in case you don’t know who committed this murder, it’s the guy who picked him up at the airport, ’cause here’s the boarding pass. And check the calling card cause Chico Forti’s numbers on it three times. Here you go police.
Erin Moriarty: I was wondering, like how close were you to Dale?
Brad Pike: We were close, but I guess we were also quite different. I love very much the outdoors … Dale wasn’t really interested in that. So, he was interested more in the clubbing, that sort of thing.
Erin Moriarty: Charming man?
Brad Pike: Yeah. Yeah, very much so.
Brad was home in Australia when he got the news about Dale from a Miami detective.
Brad Pike: And she said, “Look I’m sorry to inform you that your brother’s been found murdered.”
Brad Pike: I told them the whole story about what was happening.
“What was happening” was that Brad and Dale’s father, Tony Pike, had signed papers to sell his world-famous Pikes Hotel to Enrico Forti.
Brad Pike: We had our suspicions about it. … Dale wanted to … just lay it out on the line and say, look, “I understand you want to do the deal. So what’s the game? … what are you playing up with now?”
The brothers believed the hotel was worth a lot more money than the sales price of approximately $1.6 million. In the 1980s, the hotel had become a destination resort after George Michael and Wham! chose it as the setting for the iconic video “Club Tropicana.”
Tony Pike had a cameo role and he played it to the hilt. That video and Tony’s sex-crazed persona made Pikes a hedonist hideaway and a haven for celebrities.
Brad Pike: He was a very, very adventurous and very tenacious man … incredibly charismatic, good looking … very charming, cheeky.
Tony had asked Dale to help run Pikes after Tony became very sick in January 1997.
Brad Pike: They did tests and immediately diagnosed him with AIDS and said he has full on AIDS and AIDS dementia.
But thanks to medication, in November 1997, Tony was clear-minded enough to travel to Williams Island, an exclusive enclave outside Miami. He was visiting an old friend, Thomas Knott, a German ex-pat who had a taste for the good life.
Chaive Mesmer managed a shop on Williams Island and knew Knott well.
Chaive Mesmer: His idea of living was to drink champagne instead of water. Everything had to be the best. His shoes had to be Gucci. His everything had to be the best.
While visiting Knott, Tony Pike met Knott’s upstairs neighbor Enrico Forti and they hit it off.
Sean Crowley: Very successful. …he had contracts going with ESPN.
In Italy, Forti had won a popular quiz show and, later, produced extreme sports videos.
Sean Crowley: He was a mover and a shaker … buying up properties right around in Williams Island … seemed to be the perfect life if you will.
Forti’s wife Heather was pregnant and the couple had two young daughters.
Chaive Mesmer: Oh, my god. The most loving father. …and the way he felt about the baby coming … he was on cloud nine.
Erin Moriarty: He loved Heather?
Chaive Mesmer: With all his heart and soul.
Then, in late 1997, Tony Pike told Forti he wanted to sell his legendary hotel. And a few months later, the hotel deal came together. Tony signed papers to sell it to Forti and that’s when Tony’s sons got upset. They felt Forti had taken advantage of Tony.
Brad Pike: The nature of the AIDS dementia, as far as I know, is that he goes in and out of lucidity. … I guess Dale and I were just suspicious that because he wasn’t mentally together, that any deal that he was doing anyway needed to be checked and looked at.
Brad says Dale then flew to Miami to deal with Forti in person.
Enrico Forti, once a sports champion who traveled all over the world, today is restricted to a prison cell. But he says only his body is behind bars.
Enrico Forti: I still travel a lot in my mind … That’s my way to survive in here.
He’s constantly turning over the events that landed him here. Back in 1998, Forti was excited about becoming the owner of the legendary Pikes Hotel in Ibiza, Spain.
Sales papers had been signed, but Dale Pike and his brother Brad still had questions.
Brad Pike: My brother sort of said … look, “one of us needs to go and … have a look at the deal and just find out what’s happening with this.”
Forti went to pick Dale up at the Miami Airport on Sunday afternoon Feb. 15, 1998, but Dale’s flight was late.
Enrico Forti: I almost left. I wait for him almost two hours. And when I didn’t find him, I start paging him.
Records show Forti and Dale’s attempts to locate each other using the airport intercom.
Joe Tacopina: They start playing this game of telephone tag via the airport intercom system for about an hour-and-a-half.
Joe Tacopina and Dina Nesheiwat, Forti’s lawyers, say Forti was nervous about the time because he had promised Heather he would pick up her father that night at the Fort Lauderdale airport, about 45 minutes north.
Joe Tacopina: And she said to him, “Don’t be late to pick up my father.”
Forti says that when he and Dale finally did connect, Dale had a request.
Enrico Forti: As soon as he arrived, he asked me for some cigarette. I don’t smoke, I didn’t have cigarettes. So, we stop by the first gas station that I could find for him to buy some cigarettes.
Joe Tacopina: Dale Pike went in there … goes into the phone booth and makes a call.
Dina Neshweiat: and then Dale said, “could you drop me off?” — first he said Key Biscayne and Chico said “no, I can’t, I can’t go that far, you know I have to go pick up my father in law.” So, then he said, “no, no, no, not Key Biscayne, just take me to the Rusty Pelican restaurant” and Chico said “OK.”
Forti says they never talked about the hotel deal. Instead, Forti says Dale told him he was going to a party “with friends of Thomas Knott.”
Erin Moriarty: Sound like something your brother would do?
Brad Pike: It’s not out of the possibility if he’d been promised a good party.
At the restaurant, Forti says Dale got out of the car and into a white Lexus in the parking lot. He says he didn’t recognize the driver.
Enrico Forti: The guy inside the car that was waiting for him was an elegant person with a white shirt — gold chain, gold watch.
After dropping off Dale, Forti made a cell phone call to his wife Heather at exactly 7:16 p.m. Forti knew she’d be upset that he had been wasting time with Dale, so Forti lied.
Enrico Forti: And I told her I didn’t pick him up. … I didn’t want to have an argument with her. I was extremely late.
Forti picked Heather’s father up at the Fort Lauderdale airport and says he didn’t give Dale another thought.
Enrico Forti: The moment I left him, it was out of my mind. It’s not that I was thinking, “Oh, what’s going to happen to him?” No. Never for a second — came to my mind that something bad or terrible could happen.
Dale’s body was found nearly 24 hours later on Monday evening on that windsurfing beach on Virginia Key, about 2 miles from the Rusty Pelican.
Forti says he heard the news about Dale’s murder on Wednesday and that Tony was flying to Miami.
Enrico Forti: I was confused, and I was — I was — I was still under shock. … I spent all night trying to locate where Tony Pike was … nobody knew where he was.
And that’s because the Miami police had spirited him away. They wanted to know more about Dale’s trip and that hotel deal.
Brad Pike: They certainly were convinced that the deal with the hotel and the purchase of the hotel was, let’s say, the impetus for the killing.
Forti says he knew none of this when he reached out to the police on Thursday.
Enrico Forti: I thought it was the right thing to do.
Unwittingly, Forti was walking into the lion’s den and police were ready to pounce. Suspicious of Forti and the hotel deal, detectives tried to trick him, suggesting that Tony might also be dead.
Joe Tacopina: The police lied intentionally to Chico. And what Chico thought was, “Oh, my God. I was in Miami. I picked up Dale Pike, he’s dead … these guys think I killed both of them” and he panicked.
Forti then made what he says was the biggest mistake of his life. He repeated the lie he had told his wife: he told cops he had not picked up Dale at the airport.
Erin Moriarty: But if you were going to try to help the police why didn’t you tell them you had … picked Dale Pike up?
Enrico Forti: Because when I arrived there, that moment I realized … I was a suspect.
Enrico Forti: Of course, I was, I was confused, and I do believe there is no logic on the way that I behaved that night.
Forti returned to the police station the next day and says he had made up his mind to tell the truth.
Erin Moriarty: When did you tell them you had in fact picked up Dale Pike?
Enrico Forti: As soon I had the opportunity. I don’t remember exactly the timing, but …
But detectives say Forti only admitted picking up Dale after they confronted him with those airport paging records proving that he and Dale had made contact.
Enrico Forti: That’s a lie … there are lies from these policemen that are way bigger than the lie that I did.
Forti insists he came clean about everything, telling cops all he knew about the Pike family. And Forti pointed investigators to that longtime friend of Anthony Pike’s: Thomas Knott.
Joe Tacopina: And Thomas Knott was stealing money left and right from … Anthony Pike.
The police went to find Knott, but, by then, Thomas Knott had vanished.
THE MYSTERIOUS MR. KNOTT
Chaive Mesmer knew Enrico Forti even before Thomas Knott arrived on the scene.
Chaive Mesmer: The man who is just the happiest person I ever met. … He was one of the kindest, nicest, most appealing people on the island.
But his downstairs neighbor, Thomas Knott? Mesmer said he was a different story.
Erin Moriarty: When did you start to realize this is a con man?
Chaive Mesmer: Right after I married him.
It turned out Thomas Knott moved to Williams Island straight out of a German prison.
Knott was convicted of 14 counts of fraud — stealing millions. But when he turned up on Williams Island, the high-flying Knott told everyone he was a tennis pro.
Erin Moriarty: So, this guy who told you he was a tennis player and was making money from playing tennis.
Chaive Mesmer: He wore a lot of tennis clothes [laughs].
Erin Moriarty: He just wore a lot of tennis clothes.
Chaive says Knott was charming, and she eventually married him to help him get a green card. But the sham nuptials were quickly annulled when she said she saw his fits of anger.
Chaive Mesmer: Thomas had a really bad temper.
She wasn’t surprised that Knott vanished when Dale Pike’s body was found.
Chaive Mesmer: I thought they got him for the murder.
Joe Tacopina: With 100-percent certainty there was not any motive for Chico Forti to want Dale Pike dead. Zero. There was plenty of motive for Thomas Knott.
Turns out for months Knott had been illegally running up exorbitant charges on Tony Pike’s credit cards — and Dale Pike knew it. Forti and Tacopina believe that was a motive for murder.
Cops caught up with Knott days later in downtown Miami. But Knott told police Forti had his own motive. He said Dale’s concerns about the hotel sale could ruin Forti’s deal.
Joe Tacopina: Knott made a very compelling case that Chico must have killed him. … Chico’s trying to swindle him from the hotel.
Police had enough to charge both men with fraud: Knott for running up $90,000 on Tony Pike’s credit cards and Forti for allegedly trying to swindle Tony out of his hotel.
But, for the Miami police, Forti was still the prime murder suspect.
Joe Tacopina: The police were determined early on that it was Chico, that it was Chico. It was Chico.
After all, Forti was the last known person to see Dale Pike alive and he had lied about it to the police. And Knott had something Forti did not: an alibi. He was hosting a dinner that night.
Joe Tacopina: At a dinner party in his little apartment ’cause he had a lot of people in there at this particular time to give him enough witness for an alibi.
But Tacopina says if that alibi clears Thomas Knott, then the timeline should clear Forti. There isn’t enough time for Forti to pick up Dale, murder him and then meet his father-in-law in 90 minutes. Prosecutors agreed that he might not be the triggerman.
Joe Tacopina: They don’t accuse Chico of being the gunman, the triggerman, the shooter. … they don’t accuse him of that, they said he was acting accomplice with someone else. With whom? … They have no idea. But with someone else.
Even if Forti wasn’t the triggerman, prosecutors decided they could prove he had a role in Dale’s murder. Prosecutors cut a deal with Knott to testify against Forti — even though the convicted con man had failed three polygraph tests. And, in October 1999, they announced they had critical physical evidence linking Forti to the crime scene.
What’s the crucialGrains of sand — less than a teaspoon. Prosecutors say they recovered that much from Forti’s car and that it matches the sand on the beach where Dale Pike’s body was found.
Joe Tacopina: Now let’s focus on the evidence of the sand. The first two times they searched that vehicle they came back with an insufficient amount of sand for the forensic technician to determine where that sand would have come from. … The third time, they recovered some sand in the trailer hitch, they removed the trailer hitch … this wouldn’t be allowed in a traffic court, let alone a murder trial. This wouldn’t be allowed in a food court.
But it was. And at Forti’s murder trial in 2000, prosecutors pored over blowups of microscopic images of sand particles with their expert saying the grains definitely came from Virginia Key.
Veronica Lee: And he lives in that area … and he’s got kids and he’s a windsurfer? … why wouldn’t he have this sand on his vehicle?
Veronica Lee had just turned 20 when she was picked for the jury. She had her doubts.
Erin Moriarty: Were you troubled at all about the fact that there was no DNA that connected the defendant?
Veronica Lee: Yes
Erin Moriarty: No fingerprints
Veronica Lee: Right
But the state pathologist did provide damning testimony. Based on undigested food that Dale Pike likely ate on the airplane, the pathologist said the time of death was consistent with sometime between 6 p.m. and 7:16 p.m. — when Dale Pike was with Forti and when Knott was home at his dinner party.
Erin Moriarty: How big a mistake was it for the defense not to call their own pathologist?
Joe Tacopina: It was an enormous mistake by the defense not to call their own pathologist.
“48 Hours” asked pathologist Dr. Gregory Davis, from the University of Kentucky, to review the Miami pathologist’s report.
Dr. Gregory Davis: I’m shocked that this got entered into evidence.
Erin Moriarty: Is there like one word that sums up the affidavit … How would you sum it up?
Dr. Gregory Davis: Irresponsible
Dr. Davis says pathologists have known for decades that people simply digest food at different rates.
Erin Moriarty: Can you pin point the time of death to a minute the way this is? 7:16? As opposed to 7:17?
Greg Davis: Absolutely not.
In fact, Dr. Davis believes the lack of animal or bug bites on the body and the state of decomposition indicates that Dale Pike could have died later, even the following day, when Forti would have an alibi of his own.
Prosecutors stuck to their timeline. They highlighted that 7:16 p.m. phone call Forti made to his wife when he was supposedly heading north to pick up her father. A cell phone tower instead places Forti going in the opposite direction. And prosecutors, without any proof, speculated that Forti was on his way to get rid of evidence.
The defense countered that there were too many variables, including the weather, to determine why one tower picked up a call, and not another, and they tried to offer Knott as a better suspect.
Erin Moriarty: Did you want to know more about Thomas Knott?
Veronica Lee: Yes. I did. … Every time they tried to bring him up, “Oh, he’s not the one that’s on trial here.”
Prosecutors ultimately decided against calling the convicted con man. And on June 15, 2000, the case went to the jury.
Veronica Lee: I tried to voice my opinion and tell them, “Look there is no smoking gun. … how can you put this man away, you know … for life?”
Veronica Lee: There was a point where I locked myself in the bathroom and started crying … they wouldn’t listen, nobody would listen to me … they said I don’t know what I was talking about. I’m just a little girl, you know. … And, and it was really hard [crying].
Lee felt forced to vote guilty.
Veronica Lee: He looked right at me … and I mean I couldn’t even look at him in the eyes. I felt like I let him down so much. But I tried so hard [crying].
Some jurors did not like that Forti initially lied.
Enrico Forti: That’s the only thing they have against me … the lie to my wife and that … and the lie to the police. Nothing else.
Erin Moriarty: And that was a mistake?
Enrico Forti: I think it was a mistake. Of course, it was a mistake. But it was a mistake that need to be punished with a life sentence?
Forti was sentenced to life without parole.
Veronica Lee: I felt like he was done wrong. … I don’t think it was a fair trial.
If Enrico Forti did not kill Dale Pike, was it Thomas Knott? “48 Hours” went to find him.
WAS FORTI FRAMED?
Francesco Guidetti: The only truth that I know for sure is that Chico … would definitely not kill a person.
Like all of Enrico “Chico” Forti’s friends, Francesco Guidetti — who attended the trial — will never accept Forti’s guilty verdict.
Francesco Guidetti: The trial was tragic.
And what’s more, lawyer Joe Tacopina says the police botched a key aspect of Forti’s story that might have revealed another suspect. Forti told authorities that after he picked up Dale, they stopped at a gas station where Dale used a pay phone.
Joe Tacopina: They went and pulled the phone records from that telephone booth. And they came back … saying that he lied. There’s absolutely no record of a call that was made from that phone booth on that day at that time.
Erin Moriarty: And what was wrong with that?
Joe Tacopina: The problem was … they subpoenaed the wrong year.
By the time the police subpoenaed the correct year, the records were no longer available.
Joe Tacopina: So, because of police incompetence we will never know who was on the other end of that phone call … It’s mind-blowing to me that he was convicted.
Forti’s friends and family agree and have kept a drumbeat over the years insisting he’s innocent. In 2013, Forti’s case came to the attention of Italian journalist Manuela Moreno.
Manuela Moreno: I was in U.S. and I looking for a big story … I start to study Chico Forti story, and I said, “this is my story.”
Moreno visited Forti and he told her he was desperate for legal help. At his suggestion, she contacted Joe Tacopina.
Joe Tacopina: She said, “You have to take this case” … She asked me to meet with the family.
Few Americans have ever heard the name Enrico Forti, but 5,000 miles away from his Miami prison cell, it’s a very different story. In Trento, Italy, he’s the hometown hero.
“48 Hours” met some of Forti’s closest friends, including Luisa Mancastroppa, Forti’s first wife, who remembered the days she and Chico would ski and snowboard.
Erin Moriarty: Where are we exactly?
Luisa Mancastroppa: It’s the place we used to come with Chico.
Erin Moriarty: You said he always had to be moving?
Luisa Mancastroppa: Yeah … snowboard, ski … jumping with the skis. Everything, everything with the snow.
Erin Moriarty: Have you stayed in touch with his family? Chico’s family.
Luisa Mancastroppa: Oh yes, they love me … the mother loves me.
Enrico Forti: She’s 91 years old. And she’s still a young chica. She’s my rock.
Erin Moriarty: You talk to her?
Enrico Forti: Yeah, yeah, I talk to her. She’s great.
Erin Moriarty: She speak English?
Enrico Forti: Uh, no.
Erin Moriarty: She doesn’t? Oh, I’ll have to bring an interpreter.
Enrico Forti: But she’s very smart … Italians communicate with their hands, so she will be able to communicate with you. She will give you a big hug and a kiss [emotional].
“48 Hours” also visited Forti’s uncle Gianni who is the keeper of all things Chico. Italian magazines compare Forti to Amanda Knox.
Erin Moriarty How often do you think about Chico?
Gianni Forti [translated from Italian]: It’s not that I think of him. I have nightmares. I have spent 20 years looking at all the evidence to see if there was any basis. It’s my life. After 20 years, we must say and prove that Chico Forti is not guilty, and he never was.
Gianni Forti’s relentless campaign to keep his nephew’s case in the public eye paid off when a witness came forward with an intriguing story after seeing a television program about Forti’s case.
Fabrizio Pandolfi: [translated from Italian]: I met Thomas Knott by chance — on a yacht in Monte Carlo.
“48 Hours” found Fabrizio Pandolfi in the small town of Lucca. He’s restricted to his hometown because of his own financial crimes. Telling his story publicly for the first time, he says that in 2011 he met Thomas Knott at a party in Monte Carlo on a yacht called The Goldfinger.
Fabrizio Pandolfi [translated from Italian]: The true reason why I’m here is … what I was able to hear and … understand — there is a person … in prison who is innocent. … I heard … Thomas Knott brag of things that he had done, serious things, grave things, and he managed to get away with it — others paid for him.
Fabrizio Pandolfi [translated from Italian]: He also used to mime the use of a revolver, of a gun like this. He used to say, “I did things that I didn’t pay for.”
Pandolfi says Knott never said he was the triggerman, nor did he use the names Dale Pike or Enrico Forti, but Knott did refer to his friend Anthony who had a hotel in Ibiza. Eventually, Pandolfi provided this information to an Italian investigator and she gave it to Joe Tacopina.
Erin Moriarty: What is your hope by giving her this information — by giving Chico Forti’s attorney this kind of information? What’s your hope?
Fabrizio Pandolfi: That the investigation would be reopened so that one could show that Chico Forti most likely, maybe for sure had nothing to do at all … with the murder.
Knott has always insisted he had nothing to do with Dale’s murder and, after he served three years in Florida prisons for stealing $90,000 from Tony Pike, he was deported to Germany.
Joe Tacopina: They let him walk out the door … and let him take a plane and go to Germany and live the rest of his life.
“48 Hours” wanted to ask Thomas Knott about Pandolfi’s story, so we left Italy and headed north on the Autobahn.
The trail then led to Munich Germany, where Thomas Knott says he now lives. He even gave “48 Hours” his phone number. Moriarty gave him a call.
Erin Moriarty [on the phone with Knott]: Can we just meet with you? I mean, all I’ll do is — no camera and just meet with you for coffee.
Moriarty told Knott about the story Fabrizio Pandolfi told “48 Hours.”
Erin Moriarty [on the phone with Knott]: Have you ever been on yacht called The Goldfinger? So, you have been.
He confirmed that much.
Erin Moriarty [on the phone with Knott]: And so we have somebody who has come forward who said that he heard you actually say that you had been involved in a murder.
Erin Moriarty [on the phone with Knott]: You say he’s a crook but — but to be honest Mr. Knott, you have quite the criminal history as well.
Knott said Pandolfi had no credibility. One con man pointing the finger at another.
Erin Moriarty [on the phone with Knott]: All right, thank you sir.
Erin Moriarty [to “48 Hours” producer]: He’s not gonna meet with us … he got very, very agitated. He does not say Enrico Forti is the killer. He just says you want to know who killed Dale Pike, ask Enrico Forti.
Back in the United States, “48 Hours” decided to fly Brad Pike, the brother of murder victim Dale Pike, in from Australia. He brought along family files where we found something written by the homicide commander that was extraordinary.
Joe Tacopina: That’s the first I’m hearing of that Erin … my reaction is to want to pound this table right now and say, “are you kidding me? That’s disgusting.
WHO KILLED DALE PIKE?
It’s been 21 years since Brad Pike’s brother Dale was murdered on a Miami beach. Brad is here from Australia to finally see what it looks like for himself.
Erin Moriarty: Does coming here in some way just raise more questions in your head rather than answering them?
Brad Pike: It does, but then it also answers a lot of questions because now I know what the scenario looks like … I could think of a lot worse places to die.
In Miami, Pike had a private meeting with the prosecutor who tried the murder case against Enrico Forti, stopped by the Rusty Pelican, and visited Williams Island where his father Tony spent time with Forti and Thomas Knott.
Brad Pike: It remains now no longer an imagination, but a reality.
Pike brought with him a stack of papers he had collected about the case, including an email.
In the lengthy email sent to Pike’s father after the trial, Lt. John Campbell — the homicide squad’s commander — writes: “the prosecutors were very uncertain about proceeding and we almost had to threaten them to get Forti charged.”
Joe Tacopina: I get a little scared. I get a little scared that that’s how the system of justice works down there.
Lieutenant Campbell also wrote: “I was really nervous that the jury would find him not guilty because we just didn’t have a lot of proof. Thankfully, they recognized that truth when they saw it.”
Moriarty showed that email to Forti.
Enrico Forti: From the beginning they, they wanted to crucify me and, uh, they were just waiting to see how they could do it and that fax that you have in your hand it just is another evidence.
Erin Moriarty: Is that hard to read?
Enrico Forti: Yes, it’s hard to read. I wish I knew about these things when I could still fight on a legal way.
Erin Moriarty: Your lawyer has this now.
Enrico Forti: I hope he can do something about that.
Campbell, now retired, admits he had a “contentious” relationship with an administrator in the prosecutor’s office, but that he and other detectives all believed Forti was guilty and that they “had sufficient weight of evidence to meet our legal burden.”
Prosecutors refused “48 Hours”‘ request for an interview but wrote that they stand behind Forti’s conviction.
Joe Tacopina: There’s so many doors closed … Getting a sit-down with the prosecutors is impossible. We’ve asked. They said, “no thanks. We’re not interested.” We need somebody to listen.
Enrico Forti hopes that someone will come forward with new evidence, like the identity of the man who, Forti says, picked up Dale Pike at the Rusty Pelican. “48 Hours” arranged for a sketch to be made based on Forti’s description.
Enrico Forti: That’s very accurate. The only thing is missing is a gold chain, but otherwise is a very accurate drawing of the person.
Erin Moriarty: How do you just keep going every day?
Enrico Forti: I’m looking forward, you know. I do that for my kids, I do that for my friends, I do that for my family.
Forti’s wife Heather was 25 years old and pregnant when he was first arrested, and his only son was born while Forti was out on bail. The couple also had two older daughters.
Erin Moriarty: When you were convicted you said something to your wife. What did you tell Heather?
Enrico Forti: I told her that it was time for her to … to get her own life. Because it would have been a long battle.
Eventually, Heather moved back to her native Hawaii with their three children. After divorcing Forti, she married an old friend and raised a blended family.
Forti’s son, barely 2 years old when his father was convicted, asked his mother for a special present for his 16th birthday: to visit his father in prison.
Erin Moriarty: Do you think someday you’ll have the life you had back then?
Enrico Forti: I do believe so. I don’t want to use the word hope. I believe in that … I’m very positive … my mind still — pretty much free.
Remember, prosecutors conceded at trial that Forti may not have been the triggerman. No one else was ever arrested in connection with Dale’s murder which means the shooter is likely at large.
Tony Pike died in February 2019. As for Brad Pike, he believes Forti has spent enough time in prison.
Erin Moriarty: What do you want to say to Enrico Forti?
Brad Pike: I forgive him … it’s just a terrible, terrible, terrible situation, whether he killed Dale or not.
Had they met, Brad says he would have told Forti that he supports the calls to free him.
Brad Pike: And I don’t think anyone will really know … what the absolute truth is. There’s only two people that know. And one of them is dead, and the other one pulled the trigger … It’s those unsolved mysteries that we have to learn to live with.
Enrico Forti is hoping to have his sentence commuted