2 years later, Pata mystery remains unsolved Print
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Wednesday, 05 November 2008 10:43
NCAAF Headline News

 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -Jeannette Pata clutches the well-worn cell phone tightly in her right hand, so she can pounce at the very moment it rings.
Flip it open, and a photo of her youngest child appears - dead at 22.
On Friday, it'll be two years since someone was in the dark parking lot of the Colony Apartment complex in Miami's Kendall neighborhood. Two years since someone waited for Pata to exit his black Infiniti SUV and shut the door. Two years since someone pointed a gun at the Miami defensive lineman's head, pulled the trigger and killed him.
``Two years,'' his mother wails, leaning back on her sofa and cupping her head in her free hand. ``Two years! Someone has to help me. Someday, someone will call and say, 'Yes, this is what happened.' Someone has to help me. He was my baby and they took him from me. Someone, help me.''
good enough for investigators to close the case.
A reward of $21,000 has been posted. Even that isn't enough to lure someone forward, and detectives are tightlipped about what they know or don't know.
``The investigation is still active and open,'' said Detective Aida Fina-Milian, a spokeswoman in the Miami-Dade Police Department. ``Any type of information anyone can provide, even though they may think it's trivial, may be the last piece of the puzzle they need to take this case somewhere.''
For now, that's all police are willing to say. Records about the case, from the incident report to Pata's autopsy, are either unavailable or heavily redacted because the case remains open.
A person with direct knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information, told The Associated Press that, despite the enormous amount of attention on Pata and his death, there have been no more than ``four or five'' good leads, none of which have panned out.
started, they knew it'd be dark. It was strategized.''
Pata's mother and brother both say they are disappointed detectives haven't told them more about the investigation, and Jeannette Pata said the police only rarely take her calls now.
``Something's wrong. But this case is not over,'' Jeannette Pata said. ``I need the people to know that.''
On the final night of his life, Pata drove his black Infiniti - it's now being driven by another brother and is in the driveway of his mother's new home in West Palm Beach, about 75 miles north of the family's former Miami home - seven miles south from Miami's campus and into his apartment building's parking lot. His stereo was up, so anyone nearby could hear him coming.
His girlfriend, Jada Brody, was inside the apartment, two flights of stairs above the parking lot. According to Pierre-Pata, she said she heard the stereo, then a gunshot moments later. (Some people told police they heard Pata fighting with another man. The family isn't sure what happened.) Brody ran downstairs, saw the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Pata lying near bushes at the bottom of the stairwell and chided him to stop joking around.
Then she saw the blood pouring from his head.
``My son-in-law called me and said 'Bryan's hurt,''' Jeannette Pata said. ``I said, 'He's dead, isn't he?' And he said, 'Yes, he's dead.''
, citing them as evidence. The guns that Pata, who one day wished to be an FBI agent, kept under his bed in the apartment are evidence as well (he had permits for them). Pata's mother did get his wallet back eventually. It contained about $800.
``It had to be over something small, something petty that blew up,'' Pierre-Pata said. ``Jealousy.''
Much of the family's internal speculation stems around a fight outside a Miami nightclub that summer, at a venue where Pata was working security. According to Pierre-Pata, several people began brawling, and Pata intervened as a peacemaker. Soon, the family contends, Pata began getting phone calls from people he didn't know, and some were death threats.
Police officials, again citing that the case is open, would not confirm or deny the claim.
Pata spent summers working at a construction site with his brother-in-law and saved much of that money to make the car payments on his Infiniti. He also worked other jobs, including bouncing at that nightclub. Pata's sister, Ronette, warned him that she had a dream something bad would happen. Shaken after the brawl, Pata called his sister and said it happened, just as she predicted.
``To us, that definitely stands out,'' Pierre-Pata said.
will not discuss, but earlier this year, Jeannette Pata bought a $315,000 home in West Palm Beach, saying she had to get out of Miami to escape the reminders of what her life had become.
Bryan Pata, they said, used to sell doughnuts just to collect money for school clothes. And for a time during his college years, he lived at home, banking every cent of the rent stipend Miami provided him as part of his athletic scholarship.
``He was spoiled,'' Pierre-Pata said. ``If I had a Snickers bar, he would beg for it. He'd get all my clothes. Bryan would beg for whatever he wanted, and if that didn't work, he'd work for it. Our family, we continually work for things. That's who we are. That's who Bryan was. A lot of people assume there was something else, but there wasn't. He just worked hard.''
Jeannette Pata was watching election-night coverage in 2006 when she got the phone call about her son's death. So on Tuesday night, when Barack Obama was on his historic path to becoming the 44th President of the United States, Jeannette Pata - who came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1978 - couldn't bear to watch, because it reminded her of what she was doing the night her youngest child died. Same goes for football; she can't watch the Hurricanes play anymore, nor can she watch any NFL team, because she doesn't know which one her son would be playing for today.
f you,''' Jeannette Pata said. ``...He wanted to put me someplace better. That's all he wanted and someone took that away. But someday, we will know what happened. Someday.''
With that, her cell phone rang. Once again, it wasn't the call.
``I keep waiting,'' she said.
 

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