Clayville, N.Y. - It may have taken 42 years, but the family of Utica native Debra Clark will now sleep a lot easier each night for the rest of their lives.
Clark, who grew up in the Cornhill area of Utica as Debra Pantola, moved to south Florida in 1975 after getting divorced from her husband, Phil Clark. She worked as a nurse at a hospital in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables. Two years later, on August 4, 1977, she was brutally murdered at the young age of 23 inside the condo she was living in.
That condo was purchased by the man she was seeing, and whom her family says planned on marrying her. That man, then 36-year-old real estate agent Allen Bregman.
Two days ago, on Friday, April 12, 2019, nearly 42 years after Debra Clark’s murder, Bregman, now 77 years old, was found guilty by a Miami-Dade County jury of 2nd Degree Murder.
A whole team of people seeking justice for Debra sat through every day of that nine day trial. That team has been dubbed ‘Team Debbie’.
Team Debbie was led by Debra Clark’s two siblings, her brother Brian Pantola, who now lives in Clayville, and her sister, Roxanne Eusin, who still lives in Utica.
The two siblings met with NEWSChannel 2 Sunday morning at Pantola’s Clayville Home, less than 48 hours after that historic verdict was read.
The verdict is truly historic, as Pantola and Eusin say Debra’s case is now the oldest cold case ever solved in Miami-Dade County history.
Brian Pantola says when the verdict was read, it was real, but it was surreal, “She got her peace, she's at rest.”
Roxanne Eusin says she was fearful the verdict would go the other way, “I can tell you I had my fingers crossed. I wasn't 100% sure that it was going to go our way. I was wondering right up until the very end."
The family wants to thank the many others who played a role in finally attaining justice for Debra and that were also a part of ‘Team Debbie’. Those many people include Debra’s Florida friends from back then, as well as the prosecutors and detectives who put the cold case together, but most of all Pantola and Eusin want to thank Thomas Guilfoyle. Guilfoyle was the police officer who found Debra’s body. This case was Guilfoyle’s first homicide.
Pantola says if it wasn’t for the retired officer’s constant plea year after year these past 42 years for cold case detectives to reopen the case, this justice would have never been attained.
Pantola says the trial was difficult, especially looking at the crime scene photos. He says he ‘lost it’, when the verdict was read Friday morning and says that moment felt like a ton of bricks have finally been lifted from his shoulders, “I held it together really good through everything, but when that happened, when that happened, you hold your breath for a second because you never know. When the emotions let loose, 42 years, you took that load of bricks and you just slowly set them down."
Eusin bought some Easter Lilies Sunday morning, “I saw these this morning and I thought, the Easter Lily is a sign of peace and love, and Debbie is finally at peace and our father is at peace and we can go out and put these on her grave."
The siblings father, Frank Pantola, sadly passed away last year and didn’t get to be in Miami with ‘Team Debbie’, but Pantola and Eusin say he was there in spirit and has always been a big part of the team that finally found justice for Debra. Her mother, Gwendolyn Ventura is still alive, in her 80's and lives in Syracuse. Family members say she has found peace.
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