Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell announced today that the Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit has closed a 2001 murder case after the unexpected death of the suspect in the investigation.
Victoria Arena, 32, was murdered on or about June 11, 2001. Her body was dumped in a wooded area near an orange grove about 100 yards north of Bermont Road in Punta Gorda. This area is east of Highway 31 and was a short distance east of Paradise Park RV Resort. Her body was found by a local workman on June 15, 2001. No physical evidence that would aid in the identification of the killer was discovered at the scene. Victoria’s throat was slashed, and the cause of death was ruled homicide by the Medical Examiner.
Victoria was reported missing from Englewood by her mother on June 13, 2001. Curtis Webb, 34, was quickly identified as a potential suspect. Webb and Victoria were previously in a relationship. Victoria shared with more than one person her fear of Webb and said if anything happened to her he would be responsible. She also expressed fear that Webb would be getting out of jail. She told people she intended to get a restraining order preventing Webb from bothering her.
Webb was released from the Sarasota County Jail on or about June 5, 2001 and Victoria went missing Monday June 11, 2001.
The investigation revealed Webb was with Victoria on June 11, 2001.
Over the years numerous investigators have reviewed this case and many interviews were completed. Although at different times during this investigation probable cause to arrest Webb was established, detectives did not feel confident a conviction could be obtained. Over the years detectives, including the current Cold Case Team, did obtain several statements from associates of Webb. Many of these statements included information that Webb actually admitted he killed Victoria. One major issue hampering the investigation was the natural deaths of several of these key witnesses.
Curtis Webb spent 15 years in a Tennessee prison after being convicted of home invasion robbery in that state in 2002. On January 15, 2018, a few months after being released from prison, Curtis Webb died from an illness.
The Cold Case Team has developed probable cause to charge Curtis Webb with first degree murder. Furthermore, they have established enough testimonial and circumstantial evidence to believe there is a high probability Webb would have been convicted if the critical witnesses were still alive and available to testify.
This case is now closed by exceptional clearance due to all the parameters being met or exceeded to close the case in this manner.
A case may be closed in this manner provided the following four conditions are met.
1 – The agency identified the offender.
2 – Enough evidence was gathered to support an arrest, make a charge, and turn over the offender for prosecution.
3 – The agency can identify the offender’s exact location so the suspect could be taken into custody.
4 – A situation was encountered outside the control of the agency that would prohibit the agency from arresting, charging and prosecuting the offender.
(Source – FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program).
A copy of the document substantiating the exceptional closing is available for request through the CCSO records portal at http://www.ccso.org.
Sheriff Prummell would like to thank the many agencies, both law enforcement and civilian, that assisted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit throughout this investigation.