Man accused of killing, burying couple in San Carlos backyard goes to trial

Address: 7321 Pebble Beach Road, San Carlos Park 
 What happened: Stephen Moretto is accused of stabbing to death his roommate, Janice Bianchi, and her boyfriend, Jason Erichowsky, in August, bludgeoning them with a hammer and burying them in the backyard of the duplex.

Photo by RYAN MILLS

Address: 7321 Pebble Beach Road, San Carlos Park What happened: Stephen Moretto is accused of stabbing to death his roommate, Janice Bianchi, and her boyfriend, Jason Erichowsky, in August, bludgeoning them with a hammer and burying them in the backyard of the duplex.

Stephen Moretto

Stephen Moretto

Jason Erichowsky and Janice Bianchi's May-December romance ended two years ago when they were crudely buried in a San Carlos Park backyard.

Deputies found a shovel, chlorine and a spray nozzle in the shallow grave with Erichowsky, 39, and Bianchi, 70.

Days before the discovery, Bianchi's roommate, Stephen A. Moretto, was seen purchasing a shovel, chlorine and spray nozzle from a Fort Myers Home Depot using Bianchi's bank card. One of the store's clerks identified him from a photo lineup.

Beginning Tuesday, a jury will decide if Moretto is guilty on two counts of second-degree murder. If convicted, Moretto is facing a maximum life sentence.

Moretto is accused of stabbing Erichowsky 18 times, and Bianchi four times. Deputies say Moretto barely wrapped their bodies in a blue tarp and part of a rug and soaked them with chlorine and water before burying them in a makeshift grave behind Bianch's rented duplex. Moretto said he had been living with Bianchi for about a month.

Moretto's public defender, Kathleen Fitzgeorge, declined to comment on the pending trial.

Investigators were tipped off to the grisly killings when Bianchi's friend, Brad Eveland, reported her missing to Lee County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 4, 2009. He told deputies he last spoke with Bianchi on July 31 — the same day Moretto is accused of killing the couple.

Eveland said he went to the house, at 7321 Pebble Beach Road in Fort Myers, and peeked through the windows. He said the dining room table was missing and the entire dining room carpet appeared to have been cut away and removed. He also said the dirt in the backyard had been disturbed.

Moretto then called deputies saying Eveland and another man entered the home he shared with Bianchi, and would not leave, the warrant report said.

Moretto told deputies Bianchi and Erichowsky went on a cruise and he hadn't seen her in five days, the report said. Between Aug. 1 and Aug. 5, three different witnesses said Moretto told them Bianchi was dead and would not be returning.

Inside the duplex deputies found blood splattered in the dining area, kitchen pantry, rear sliding glass doors, and exterior walls of the screened rear patio. Moretto claimed he was had been living in the home for a month.

Moretto is accused of using Bianchi's bank card on Aug. 1 at the Home Depot to buy the shovel, chlorine, and spray nozzle. He also used the bank card on three other occasions, totaling $783.80 in charges and ATM withdrawals, the warrant report said.

Moretto spoke to his brother on Aug. 9 for 30 minutes. In that conversation, Tony Moretto, told Stephen Moretto to turn himself in. But Stephen Moretto said he couldn't because he's guilty.

Tony Moretto asked his brother if he was guilty by association or because he knew something.

"No, I'm guilty because I did it," Stephen Moretto responded, according to the warrant report.

Stephen Moretto also told his brother how he did it and where the bodies were buried, according to the warrant report.

Lee and Collier deputies arrested Moretto on Aug. 12 at 6761 Bentgrass Drive in East Naples. They have not yet released a motive.

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