Eighteen years after American Airlines employee Casey Sigler was beaten and strangled with a phone cord inside his South Beach apartment, his killer is off to serve a life prison term.
A Miami-Dade judge on Tuesday sentenced Anthony Sampson, 50, to life in prison for the violent 1997 slaying — a case that went unsolved until Sampson’s arrest in 2013.
For more than a decade, the murder of the 41-year-old Sigler remained a mystery.
Miami Beach detectives working the cold case ran prints found at the scene through a law enforcement database. A match returned to Sampson, a drifter who had moved to North Carolina after the slaying.
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Sampson’s palm print was found on a damaged file cabinet inside the apartment. His prints were also found on Sigler’s Toyota Celica, which had been stolen and found abandoned in Overtown, prosecutors Annette Rasco and Joe Mansfield told jurors at the trial last month.
Sampson confessed to his role in the crime to detectives.
He said Sigler had picked him up from Biscayne Boulevard on the pretense of moving boxes, then requested a sexual tryst. Afterward, the two argued over $25 — and a vicious brawl ensued inside the ransacked apartment on the 1600 block of Lenox Avenue.
At Tuesday’s tear-filled sentencing hearing, Sigler’s family recalled a fun-loving man, the oldest of seven siblings from Michigan known for his silliness — like carrying a squirt gun to weddings to shoot the various cousins.
One niece, U.S. Army First Sgt. Rebecca Knox, remembered that as a young girl, “Uncle Casey” took her to see the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
“He was wearing a sweater vest. It was blue and white and had Donald Duck on it,” she told Circuit Judge Richard Hersch. “It’s amazing what sticks out in your mind as a child. Everyone wanted to sit next to Uncle Casey at the movies. That is probably why I have such a strong attachment to the Ninja Turtles.”
Sigler’s mother suffered heart problems and died several years later, never learning the identity of the killer.
“The Sigler family world crashed,” his brother, John Sigler, wrote in a letter to the judge. “You took my brother’s chance to see my son’s graduation. He missed meeting two nephews, one niece, one great nephew and six great nieces. Their birthday parties, graduation, family parties.”
Sampson on Tuesday took responsibility for the crime, insisting to the court that he long harbored a guilty conscience.