Left: Salvatore Belvedere; Center: Gianni Belvedere; Right: Ilona Flint
The mysterious killings of local residents Ilona Flint, Salvatore Belvedere and Gianni Belvedere have rocked and saddened San Diego. Now, six months into this case, many questions remain unanswered as the San Diego Police Department continues to put together pieces of the puzzle.
Here’s a timeline of key events in this triple homicide case, which first began on the early hours of Christmas Eve with a deadly shooting outside Westfield Mission Valley Mall.
Dec. 24, 2013 – The Christmas Eve Shooting:
At around 1:15 a.m., Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22 years old, are critically shot in a parking lot outside the Macy’s department store at San Diego’s Mission Valley Mall. Despite being shot in the head, Flint manages to call 911 to report the shooting, telling dispatchers she’s injured near the mall. Minutes later, officers locate the wounded duo inside a vehicle in the 1600-block of Camino Del Rio North. Flint is pronounced dead at the scene. Salvatore, suffering life-threatening gunshot wounds to the head and torso, is transported to a local hospital. SDPD Lt. Mike Hastings holds a briefing on the Christmas Eve shooting and says police are looking for a possible suspect, described as a 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 man wearing tan pants.
Dec. 26, 2013 – Gianni Belvedere is Missing:
Two days after the parking lot shooting, the families of both Flint and Salvatore hold a brief news conference announcing that 24-year-old Gianni Belvedere – Sal’s older brother and Flint’s fiancé – has gone missing. Police confirm Gianni was last seen on Dec. 23 around 10 p.m. at his Tierrasanta home. “Gianni, we need you to come home,” pleads one family member, between tears. “Please call us.” Investigators confirm the Christmas Eve shooting does not appear to be connected to any sort of robbery. Lt. Hastings says a possible vehicle of interest in the case is a 2008-2011 dark gray Honda sedan.
Dec. 27, 2013 – Salvatore Succumbs to Injuries, Search Continues for Gianni:
The Belvedere family confirms that Sal has died from injuries sustained in the Christmas Eve shooting. Police say they’re still searching for Gianni, and issue a missing person bulletin describing Gianni as an Italian-American man with brown hair and brown eyes. He’s 6 feet tall, 165 pounds and likely driving a four-door, dark green 2004 Toyota Camry XLE with the Utah license plate B154VZ. The Belvedere family says Gianni may have also been at the mall with Flint and Sal at the time of the shooting.
Jan. 17, 2014 – Body Found in Trunk of Missing Man’s Car in Riverside, Calif.:
The dark green Toyota Camry with the Utah license plate described in the SDPD’s missing person bulletin for Gianni is found in Riverside, Calif., about an hour-and-a-half north of San Diego County. A passerby calls authorities at around 11:45 a.m. and reports that a foul odor is coming from the trunk area of vehicle, which is parked at a shopping center. When officers arrive on scene, they open the trunk and find the decomposed body of a man inside. On Jan. 18, a Belvedere family member confirms the victim in the trunk is Gianni. The SDPD says it’s working with the Riverside Police Department on this development. An autopsy is scheduled for the following week.
Jan. 23, 2014 – Confirmed by PD: Victim in Trunk is Gianni:
Police officially confirm that the man found dead in the trunk of the car in Riverside is, in fact, missing San Diego resident Gianni Belvedere. The cause of death is not released but detectives clarify that Gianni was a victim of homicide.
June 21, 2014 — Police, Family Confirm Arrest in Triple-Homicide Case
Nearly six months to the date of the Mission Valley Christmas Eve murders, the Belvedere family and SDPD confirm that an arrest has been made in the slayings of Ilona, Sal and Gianni. Carlo Gallapo Mercado, 29, was booked on three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the killings. The SDPD schedules a news briefing for Monday, June 23, to share more information.
Nov. 3, 2014 — Mercado Committed to State Hospital
Judge Joseph P. Brannigan found Mercado not competent to stand trial and ordered he be treated at Patton State Hospital for three years or until he is found competent to assist in his own defense.
The third victim of an unsolved triple-homicide case that has gripped San Diego since Christmas Eve died as a result of fatal gunshot wound(s) to the head, the San Diego Police Department confirmed Friday.
The SDPD said San Diego resident-turned-missing-person Gianni Belvedere, 24, was not able to survive injuries sustained in some sort of shooting, according to preliminary findings from the Riverside Medical Examiner’s office. His final autopsy report has not yet been completed, but San Diego police said this gives new insight into how he died.
On Dec. 24, 2013, at around 1:15 a.m., Flint and Salvatore were found critically shot in a parking lot outside the Macy’s department store at Westfield Mission Valley mall in San Diego’s Mission Valley area. Flint was pronounced dead at the scene of the Christmas Eve shooting. Salvatore died at the hospital a few days later.
A couple days after the shooting, the Belvedere family and San Diego police announced that Gianni Belvedere had gone missing. He was last seen at his home in Tierrasanta on Dec. 23, 2013, around 10 p.m. – just hours before the fatal shooting of his fiancée and brother.
A San Diego shopping mall was negligent in not providing better security measures that might have prevented the Christmas Eve shooting deaths of three persons in its parking lot, a lawsuit asserts.
Filed by attorney Daniel Gilleon in San Diego County Superior Court, the lawsuit says that the mall’s owner, Westfield Centers, “failed to use reasonable care to protect their patrons, guests, tenants and invitees.”