In November of 1987, Caruso advertised diamonds for sell. A man identifying himself as “George Williams,” but who was actually John Vining, came to Caruso’s fingernail care business on several days in November of 1987 to discuss buying the diamonds.
Joann Ward, Caruso’s employee, was introduced to “George Williams,” and her description of “Williams” matched John Vining.
On November 17, 1987, Ward accompanied Caruso to meet Vining at the gem lab to have the jewelry appraised. Ward said that “Williams” was driving a black Cadillac Fleetwood, which was the same car that Vining’s mother drove. Ward ran errands while Caruso and Vining were at the gem lab.
Caruso, when they went to have the jewelry appraised, introduced Ellen Zaffis and Kevin Donner, employees of Winter Park Gem Lab to Williams aka Vining. Zaffis and Donner also gave descriptions of “Williams” that matched Ward’s description of “Williams.” The diamond jewelry was appraised at $60,000.
Caruso told Ward that she and “Williams” were going to the bank because he had decided to buy the jewelry. Ward went back to work alone. Ward and Zaffis remembered that Caruso was wearing a gold Rolex watch and several rings, including an anniversary ring, a solitaire engagement ring, and 6-carat diamond ring. None of the jewelry was found with Caruso’s body.
On December 8, 1987, land surveyors discovered Caruso’s body in Apopka, FL. The body was identified as Caruso’s through dental records. Caruso died from two gunshot wounds: one to the side of the face and the other to the temple. The black Cadillac belonging to Vining’s mother was found burning shortly after the media announced the discovery of Caruso’s body.
On May 5, 1989, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department issued a detainer against John Vining, who was currently in prison in the state of Georgia. At that time, Vining was serving a sentence for kidnapping and aggravated assault.
On June 5, 1989, Vining was indicted for first-degree murder and armed robbery in the state of Florida.