By Rich Pollack
The absence of Betty Cabral — her warmth and her kindness — is still being felt at the Penthouse Highlands condominium a year after her death.
Cabral, a 22-year resident of a community with just 82 units, was found murdered in her apartment one year ago this month. She was 85.
Although detectives and prosecutors have charged Cabral’s financial adviser with siphoning off close to $3 million from her accounts, no arrest has been made in the homicide.
“I miss her sweetness,” said Helen Krantz, the condo’s office manager. “I miss her coming down every day and visiting.”
Those neighbors who knew her well say Cabral, a woman short in stature but with a big heart, was a giving person who focused much of her love and attention on her husband of more than 50 years, William, who died in 2017 after suffering from dementia.
“Her Billy was the love of her life,” Krantz said. “She used to say, ‘I love him wicked.’”
Neighbors said that William Cabral took care of the finances during the marriage, and his death left her vulnerable.
“She felt lost without him,” Krantz said.
Others in the condo complex agreed.
“She took care of Billy and Billy took care of everything else,” said neighbor Pat Acampora, who remembers Cabral’s walking back and forth in the condo’s pool every day for exercise until she began having difficulty getting around following an ankle injury.
Neighbors said that Cabral cared about others in the community and that feeling was returned, especially after her husband died.
“She had the cutest smile and everyone cared about her,” Acampora said. “She was just a good soul.”
Krantz said Cabral was always nice to those she came in contact with, including aides who helped her get around in the last few years.
“She was always happy to see people,” Krantz said. “She was always a pleasure and she made you feel good inside.”
Acompora said that Cabral frequently talked about her family members who were still in the Northeast.
“Betty loved her family,” she said.
She also loved holidays, especially St. Patrick’s Day, where she was known to get a little tipsy now and then after condo celebrations.
According to family members, the Cabrals lived in Cambridge near Boston for many years with Billy working for the city of Cambridge, mostly with veterans, while Betty held administrative positions at a hospital nearby.
The couple never had children, but Cabral was close to several nieces, including several in the Boston area who came to Florida to testify in a bond hearing for David Del Rio, who is charged with the theft of her life savings.
Del Rio, of Lee County, has been charged with several counts of grand theft, exploitation of the elderly, money laundering and fraudulent use of personal identification information, stemming as far back as 2013.
He was arrested in late September during a traffic stop near his home, which was later searched by police. Lee County sheriff’s deputies confirmed at the time that the bomb squad was called to assist, most likely because Del Rio reportedly had several weapons.
Del Rio’s attorneys have said that their client had no connection with the homicide.
“He’s unequivocally not involved in the homicide,” attorney Michael Salnick said at the time of his arrest.
Betty Cabral’s body was found April 30 when a Highland Beach police officer went to check on her after her car was found in Broward County. According to a prosecutor in the theft case, her throat had been cut.
Cabral’s death shook the community, which is still a bit on edge despite enhanced security measures, including additional cameras.
“Betty was an honest innocent person who believed in people,” said Alan Croce, president of the condo association. “When Betty came to an event there was sweetness.”