In Memoriam - World Black Belt

Susan Foanio

Susan Foanio

America In Defense Instructor Tragically Gunned Down, AID Instructor Susan Foanio

Courtesy of: Staff Writer Mark Krzos

Iron gates guard the manicured lawns of the Daniels Park development in south Fort Myers.

On Wednesday, though, the gates could not defend against the violence within.

There was an argument.

Then, there were gun blasts.

By the day's close, 49-year-old visitor Susan Foanio was dead, 56-year-old homeowner Ann Sturm was in jail for allegedly pulling the trigger and a neighborhood was deeply unnerved. It is the county's 35th homicide this year, and the seventh this month.

"We heard a scream," said Austin Brown, 11. "We came running. My friend was like half crying because he saw (Foanio) when she came out of the house, and she was bleeding a lot and she yelled to him to call 911."

That call for help came to the Lee County Sheriff's Office dispatch at 9:56 a.m. Foanio, of San Carlos Park, was suffering from multiple bullet wounds. Emergency workers tried to revive her in Sturm's driveway before taking her to Gulf Coast Hospital, and then to Lee Memorial Hospital, where she later died.

Sturm was booked into jail at 5:21 p.m. Before then, her criminal record had been clean.

Sheriff's deputies aren't revealing a motive, though the charge against Sturm is second-degree murder, indicating the crime wasn't premeditated. It's not yet clear how the two knew each other.

Foanio, wife to James and mother to 19-year-old Connie, had recently landed a job at Hope Hospice as a facilities manager on new construction projects. According to director John Strickland, Sturm was not a patient, and the reason for Foanio's visit that morning was not work-related.

"It was a personal matter that had nothing to do with work." Strickland said.

He declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

Neighbors said Sturm was generally kind, but protective when it came to her possessions. Surveillance cameras on the home on Danpark Loop were visible from the street. Kyle Palmer, 12, said he once helped Sturm carry her groceries and there were several more cameras inside.

"I think she was afraid someone was going to break in to her house or something," Palmer said. "She had guns in there, too."

On Aug. 4, Sturm petitioned Judge Harry Rankin for a temporary protection order against her former pharmacist, Nicole Holder, 33. In a seven-page diatribe, Sturm wrote that Holder, a Cape Coral resident, entered her house when she wasn't home, stalked her when she shopped, taped their conversations and was attempting to steal her disability checks. The petition rambles occasionally, at one point saying Sturm had known Holder for 11 months, and then later accusing Holder of taping her conversations for the last four years.

"Nicole seems to think I've got away with something and is jealous cause I have a home paid for and she don't," Sturm scrawled in large letters.

Rapkin denied the temporary injunction, but a hearing on a permanent order was set for 1:30 p.m. today in Fort Myers. At her home Wednesday evening, Holder was visibly shaken.

"I only knew her from work," she said. "I'm just really shocked right now. I don't think I'm in the right state of mind to say anything more."

Foanio's family did not return calls seeking comment.

Jacob Furrow, an 11-year-old neighbor of the Foanios, said he often saw them riding their bikes around the area, about a half- mile south of Alico Road.

"They helped me out a couple of times with some things," Furrow said. "She seemed very nice to me."

Before Hope Hospice, Foanio worked at Southwest Regional Hospital. According to a Web site she created, Foanio held a black belt in karate and was a self-defense instructor who taught tactics to airline employees following 9/11. She was also an entrepreneur who had opened a tae kwon do school in 1999 and a private workout space called Elite Physique in Fort Myers in 2007. Both have since closed.

Hope Hospice CEO Samira Beckwith said that though Foanio had just started the job about a month ago, the staff was thrilled because of her breadth of experience. Many had already taken a strong liking to her.

"We were very happy with her as an employee," Beckwith said. "But we had also grown very fond of her. She was just very easy to like. Our hearts are just very heavy right now."

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