For nearly two decades, Alan M. Gold closely guarded the secret of what happened to Lynne Friend, the Hallandale mother who mysteriously vanished, leaving behind a 5-year-old son.
But it was not until a few weeks ago that Gold finally confirmed what investigators had suspected all along: Friend’s angry ex-husband, Clifford, murdered her after a bitter custody dispute, then dumped her body off a boat into the ocean.
Gold, who admitted helping dispose of the body, had long refused to cooperate against his pal, Clifford Friend — whom prosecutors indicted last year on a first-degree murder charge in his ex-wife’s disappearance.
Friend, 57, a pawn shop owner who lived in North Miami Beach and now resides in Lighthouse Point, is out on bond while awaiting trial.
After receiving immunity from prosecution, Gold gave a sworn statement at the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, detailing blow-by-blow how he helped dispose of the corpse and almost got caught by U.S. Customs agents looking for drug smugglers.
Despite several searches on the ocean floor, Lynne Friend’s body has never been found.
Gold’s decision to cooperate dramatically changes a circumstantial murder case that riveted South Florida 19 years ago and has given prosecutors more ammunition to add to what they say was already a solid case.
“At the time we decided to indict this case, we had hope that Mr. Gold would come forward,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Now he has. Mr. Gold’s testimony fortifies an already strong case and answers the question that has lingered since Lynne Friend disappeared in 1994.”
Friend’s attorney, Peter Heller, has declined to comment on Gold’s change of heart.
Details of Gold’s sworn statement lay out his version of events:
Friend and Gold had known each other for about a decade. They’d already gone through one legal drama together.
Friend had been a witness for Gold in 1991 when he was arrested for a shooting outside his North Miami Beach tanning salon; the case was dropped because Gold had acted in self-defense.
And Friend often vented to his buddy about Lynne’s plans to remarry and take their son to Tennessee.
The night of Aug. 28, 1994, Gold said he was home in bed recovering from the flu when the phone rang. It was Friend.
“He said that he had a serious problem and could I come help him,” Gold remembered.
Reluctantly, Gold said he drove from his Miami Beach condo to Friend’s North Miami Beach home. He saw Friend’s SUV there. He also saw an “older sedan” — Lynne Friend’s blue 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis.
“After being in the house for a moment or two, I noticed a large equipment bag in the living room, dining room area,” Gold said.
“He said that Lynne had come over to get money,” Gold told prosecutors during a May 21 interview.
“They were arguing over the child and visiting and vacation times. He said he basically lost it; he grabbed her from the back, knocked her to the ground and choked her.”
“And by choked her, you mean he strangled her to death?” asked prosecutor Michael Von Zamft.
“Yes,” Gold replied.
Friend told Gold he had stuffed Lynne in the bag. Gold agreed to help him dispose of the body. Clifford drove off in Lynne’s car, with Gold following.