An attorney and realtor with ties to Vero Beach was stabbed to death in his Illinois home earlier this month in an incident authorities described as ‘heinous,’ according to Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Edwardsville.
On Jan. 4, Madison County deputies found 47-year-old Randy Lee Gori, of Edwardsville, dead inside his home. Gori also owned a south Florida beach side residence in the Orchid area, just north of Wabasso Beach, according to Indian River County Property Appraiser’s Office.
“In my 22-year career as a law enforcement official, I have seen a lot of gruesome cases, but this one elevates to the top of heinous and senseless crimes,” Madison County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Vucich said in a statement. “I knew the victim personally and he was a generous man and he will be missed. He was well known throughout the community and made generous donations to worthwhile causes. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.”
Gori, a well-established attorney – was the owner and co-founder of The Gori Law Firm, Gori Realtors, Gori Property Management, MedServe Record Retrieval and Madison County Title Company. The licensed lawyer’s property management company, based in Edwardsville, also managed commercial and residential properties in Vero Beach, according to his website.
“Randy was a wonderful employer and mentor” said Property Manager Ansley Watkins, who oversaw Florida properties for Gori. “His generosity impacted so many people. He will be greatly missed.”
Madison County deputies said the man who stabbed Gori – identified as 28-year-old Timothy Michael Banowetz – fled the home in Gori’s black 2020 Rolls Royce Cullinan sports utility vehicle. Deputies found Banowetz, of Wentzville, Missouri, and the stolen luxury vehicle the next day in a wooded area, officials said.
Deputies arrested Banowetz. Detectives were unable to initially make a connection between Gori and Banowetz.
Wentzville, Missouri, is less than an hour away from Edwardsville, Illinois, located in the southwestern part of the state.
“I would like to commend the tireless efforts of the talented law enforcement officials that worked this case in addition to the ILEAS mobile field force search team,” Vucich said. “I would also like to recognize the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Madison County Coroner’s Office, and the Illinois State Police that were instrumental in this case. Their communities should recognize them and be fortunate to have them within their respective jurisdictions.”
The incident unfolded when Banowetz, armed with a knife, went to Gori’s home about 9 p.m. Jan 4 in the 4500 block of Mooney Creek Road. Banowetz ordered Gori and two children in the residence to the ground before binding their hands, deputies said.
Deputies said Banowetz took the children’s cellphones, along with cash from Gori. Banowetz then stabbed Gori with the knife before stealing his SUV, valued at more than $25,000, authorities said.
Vucich said Gori’s actions likely saved the lives of the children, who were not harmed, but did not elaborate.
“I want to impress that out of respect for the victim’s family and to respect their privacy, limited details regarding the evidence or what took place at the crime scene will not be discussed,” Vucich said.
Soon after, Madison County deputies responded to a 911 call at Gori’s home in rural Edwardsville, Illinois. Inside the residence, deputies found Gori, who was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office activated the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. More than 25 investigators from different agencies were inspecting leads in the case, officials said.
The next day, about 9 a.m., authorities located Banowetz – initially described as a person of interest – and Gori’s stolen SUV in a wooded area, deputies said. Deputies detained Banowetz.
Investigators determined Banowetz acted alone and that the homicide was premeditated, officials said. Deputies said Banowetz had a ‘nomadic’ lifestyle.
State prosecutors filed formal charges against Banowetz, including first-degree murder, three counts of armed robbery, aggravated offenses related to motor vehicles and three counts of aggravated unlawful restraint. Banowetz was held Monday at the county jail without bond.
“This was a thorough and swift investigation with a quick resolution. We investigated over 60 leads and executed an estimated eight search warrants with more likely forthcoming,” Vucich said. “I hope the victim’s family, friends, and associates find solace in the fact that the killer is caught. The case will now be turned over the court system and we and pray that fair justice is served.”
Gori was born in Richmond Heights, Missouri, according to his obituary. Gori leaves behind his wife, Beth Suchanek, who he married in June 2001 in St. Louis, Missori.
Gori also leaves behind two children, his obituary shows. Visitation services for Gori will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Edwardsville, Illinois, according to Kalmer Memorial Services.
Gori’s funeral mass and burial will be private. Tributes poured in on social media to remember the licensed lawyer and philanthropist.
“Randy Gori, Beth Suchanek Gori and the Gori Law Firm have always supported us with their generous philanthropy,” The Edwardsville Arts Center said in a Facebook post. “More importantly, Randy Gori’s example of supporting local charities has been inspirational to our mission of bringing the creative spirit to the lives of our community through classes, exhibits and cultural events.”
Gori graduated from St. Louis University in 1995 and St. Louis University School of Law in 1998, according to his law firm website. He holds many commendations, including being named one of the top 100 litigation lawyers in Illinois by the American Society of Legal Advocates, Life member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of the top 100 trial lawyers by National Trial Lawyer.
Gori’s areas of practice were absestos, benzene and personal injury litigation, his website showed. Gori has several state and city bar admissions, including in Illinois, Missouri, Washington D.C., New York, Michigan and Tennessee.
Anyone with more information on his death should contact the major case squad at 618-296-5544. Those with more information can also call Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 618-692-4433.