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    Apartment complex sued over woman's 1999 slaying

    Managers should have known not to put the nursing assistant in a secluded area, the lawsuit contends.

    By ED QUIOCO

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 2000


    OLDSMAR -- The fatal stabbing of a 27-year-old nursing assistant slain in her apartment last year could have been prevented by the company that owned the complex, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the victim's family.

    Cindy Riedweg was killed in February 1999 after sunbathing outside her apartment at the Villas at Countryside. Her neighbor, Kenny L. Dessaure, 22, has been charged with her murder and is facing the death penalty if convicted.

    The suit was filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court last month and seeks more than $15,000 in damages from Oldswood Inc., the Winter Park company that owned the complex. The suit contends that Oldswood was negligent because it placed Riedweg in a secluded portion of the property, living next-door to a tenant with a criminal history.

    At the time of the murder, Dessaure was on probation for a conviction of conspiracy to commit robbery.

    "We are going for it all on this thing," said Pinellas Park attorney Frank Butler, who filed the suit on behalf of Riedweg's estate and parents. "This is such a serious situation on this thing. It's striking to me that they placed this single female back there with this animal."

    Oldswood Inc. president Michael Green declined to comment and directed questions to the company's attorney Richard Bowers of Tampa. Bowers could not be reached for comment, although the company has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

    Butler said complex managers should have known better than to place Riedweg next to Dessaure and his roommate. Riedweg, who was murdered a few days after moving to the complex, also should have been warned about her neighbors.

    "In further increasing the risk to Cindy Riedweg, (Oldswood) placed Ms. Riedweg in a villa located on the backside remote portion of their property, secluded by a large wooden fence in front of the villa, and buffered further by a large vacant lot beyond the fence, in addition to its location next to (Dessaure's) residence," according to the suit.

    The suit also claims the company was negligent because it did not evict Dessaure and his roommate even though Oldswood or the complex managers "had actual or constructive knowledge of drug traffic activity occurring at the villa where (Riedweg's) murderer resided" and that "the occupants frequently held all-night parties with drugs and alcohol."

    The complex, which was on Tampa Road, has been torn down to make way for a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

    Dessaure's trial, which has been postponed repeatedly, is scheduled for February. Sheriff's investigators found blood on his shorts that matched Riedweg's DNA profile. They also found semen that matches Dessaure's DNA profile on a towel in Riedweg's bathroom.

    Dessaure, who called 911 to report finding Riedweg's body, told sheriff's detectives that he found her after going to her apartment to borrow ice, according to court documents.

    Riedweg's mother, who lives in Wisconsin, said the family is focused on Dessaure's pending criminal case and had not seen the civil suit until contacted by a reporter Tuesday. For the family, she said, dealing with the trial postponements has been frustrating.

    "I had a point where I was so angry ... that I could hardly function for a couple of days," Nancy Riedweg said. "You get to the point where you say, "Is the trial going to go or not?' "

    Dessaure's trial is scheduled for Feb. 19.

    - Staff writer Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or quioco@sptimes.com.

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