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Michael Tanzi

Florida Death Row Inmate

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Michael Tanzi

Michael Tanzi

Prison Photo
Michael Tanzi was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Janet Acosta.

During her lunch hour on April 25, 2000, Janet Acosta was seated inside her van with the window rolled down, reading a book at the Japanese Gardens in Miami, Florida. Tanzi approached Acosta’s van, asking her for a cigarette and the time.

When Acosta was distracted, Tanzi punched her repeatedly in the face and gained entry into the van. Holding her wrist and threatening her with a razor blade, he drove the van to Homestead, Florida.

When they reached Homestead, Tanzi stopped at a gas station where he bound and gagged Acosta with materials found in her van. He took 53 dollars in cash, purchased cigarettes and a soda, and took Acosta’s bank card. He also forced Acosta to perform oral sex but stopped her from continuing because her teeth were loose from the earlier beating. Tanzi continued driving on to Tavernier in the Florida Keys.

In Tavernier, Tanzi stopped at approximately 5:15 p.m. to withdraw money from Acosta’s account using her personal identification number. Soon thereafter, he stopped again at a hardware store to purchase duct tape and razor blades.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., they arrived at Sugarloaf Key. It was there that Tanzi decided he would have to eliminate Acosta as she was impeding his progress and leaving her alive would result in his swift capture.

He drove to an isolated area in Cudjoe Key, told her he was going to kill her, and began to strangle her. He stopped to place duct tape over her mouth, nose, and eyes in an attempt to quiet her and then strangled her until she expired. Tanzi then left Acosta’s body in a wooded area.

Tanzi then drove to Key West, where he used Acosta’s ATM card, smoked marijuana, and visited friends. Police found Acosta’s van after her friends had reported her missing. When the police approached Tanzi about the van, he had receipts in his pocket documenting his use of Acosta’s ATM card and told the police that he “knew what this was about.”

He waived his rights and began confessing to the assault, abduction, robbery, sexual battery, and murder of Janet Acosta.

He repeated his confession in great detail on audio and videotape. He also showed the police where he had left Acosta’s body and where he had disposed of the duct tape and rope.

Source: Florida Commission on Capital Cases

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