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Manhunt spreads for Aronow killer

Who killed boat racer Don Aronow? A white man with a dark complexion, a day or two's growth of whiskers and wavy brown hair was driving a dark blue Lincoln Continental Town Car from which the shots were fired Tuesday afternoon. If there was someone else, unseen behind the dark-tinted windows, the police do not know. They have a picture of the driver, a composite sketch made from descriptions given by witnesses who were close enough to get a good look at him.

By tonight, everyone in South Florida who reads a newspaper or watches televised news should have a look at the stubbly face. Police hope someone will recognize it and tell them whose it is.

"The information we have is that this person was driving the car and would be a suspect, " Metro-Dade Police spokesman Bill Johnson said Wednesday. "He's a 30- to 40-year-old white male. He's slender, six feet plus. He has a day's growth of beard. He has wavy, medium-length, brown hair and it was combed back. About the only thing I can say about the subject is we would like to find him. We would like to talk to him. Right now we're looking for this particular person."

Detective Sgt. Mike Diaz said "multiple witnesses" contributed to the description of the car and driver. He said none of them overheard whatever was said in the seconds while Aronow's white Mercedes sports car and the Lincoln were stopped side by side, facing in opposite directions on Northeast 188th Street.

No one knew the Lincoln's license plate number, but they did provide an otherwise detailed description of it: The car has fancy hubcaps, not spoked wheels, and lacks the chrome trim of the Lincoln Signature Series. There may have been a green sticker on the rear bumper.

"We're looking for any information about the driver and the vehicle, anyone who saw a car like this in the area prior to or after the shooting, " Johnson said.

He emphasized that police had not found a motive for the murder, and that although the way it was done resembles the execution methods of professional gangsters, investigators have not concluded it was that kind of crime.

Aronow, supplier of chase boats to law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad, is not known or suspected to have been involved in criminal activity. Through his racing activity, he knew some criminals. Drug smugglers are fond of the kind of speedboats he built, and a few men who race in competition have been tied to marijuana traffic.

"Mr. Aronow was a prominent international businessman, Johnson said. "He had numerous business ventures and contacts all around the world, and it makes the possibilities in this case vast." Johnson apologized for having few fresh details about the murder of one of Miami's best known sportsmen -- personally the winner of world and national speedboat driving championships, designer and builder of offshore racers, chief sponsor of a professional racing team, friend of royalty and breeder of race horses.

Northeast 188th Street near Dumfoundling Bay is a boat- building district where Aronow knew or was known to almost everyone.Johnson was asked if the police think Aronow knew the driver of the Lincoln.

"It's possible that he did and possible that he didn't, and right now we have a lot more questions than answers, " Johnson replied.

Today at 4 p.m., there will be a memorial service for Aronow in the Riverside Memorial Chapel at 1920 Alton Rd., Miami Beach. John Crouse, Aronow's public relations man, said his remains will be cremated. His survivors include his wife Lillian, their two young sons and three grown children from his first marriage.

Aronow's action-packed life ended 26 days short of March 1, his 60th birthday.

On Northeast 188th Street, friends say, it was entirely in character for him to stop his car in response to a signal from another driver -- assuming it was someone he had met once, or an old friend in an unfamiliar car, possibly a stranger asking directions.

Not someone who was about to murder him.