The Urban Coroner
Photography By Sugarbomb
OCEAN BREEZE GOLF CLUB
When urban exploration becomes suburban exploration and then suburban exploration unexpectedly becomes true crime!
Ocean Breeze Golf Club | Photo © 2018 Sugarbomb
"Urban exploration...more like suburban exploration," I thought to myself as I approached the defunct country club. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make an abandoned golf course and country club interesting enough to write an entire history on it, but hey, a bando is a bando. What kind of interesting history could this place hold, other than the potential story of me getting stung by the wasps that I could hear buzzing around nearby. The kind of people that would walk the halls before this building's closure were likely the same people that I used to aggressively side-eye at Starbucks when they'd order of "breath of Splenda" in their skinny vanilla latte or insist on making you do a pour over to brew a single cup of rancid French Roast at 3pm...but boy was I wrong.
The Ocean Breeze Golf Club in Boca Raton was described online as having basic motel-style lodging with balcony rooms, access to private golf and tennis facilities. Reviews on the golf course and facilities were mixed, apparently featuring good deals such as a round of golf, two beers, and a cart for $19 after 3pm. I don't know a lot about golf course rates or golf itself, but it seems this is a good bargain according to the reviewer, though obviously not good enough to keep the golf course and country club open.
One of the motel-style rooms at the Ocean Breeze Golf Club | Photo © 2018 Sugarbomb
The 202-acre golf course and accompanying buildings were foreclosed on in 2016 by Redus LLC, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank and the future of the property remained in limbo and the city hashed out how the land should be used. Many local golf courses were finding themselves meeting a similar fate as Ocean Breeze as there was more of a demand for new homes to be built on the prime real estate taken up by the sprawling courses.
The library still full of books at the Ocean Breeze Golf Club | Photo © 2018 Sugarbomb
In the years following the closure of the Ocean Breeze Golf Club, its future remained uncertain - and in a seemingly completely unrelated matter, the location of 74-year-old James "Skip" Scandirito was equally uncertain.
James "Skip" Scandirito was known to be active, funny, and well-liked. He made friends quickly, and was described as a great storyteller as well as an avid tennis player, golfer, and kayaker. Skip had a long career as a judge in Michigan, where the family was originally from, though he resigned his district judgeship in Mount Clemens in January 2000 after allegations from at least four women claiming that he offered judicial favors in exchange for sex. This timely resignation occurred just three days before a disciplinary hearing with the state Judicial Tenure Commission and meant while Skip would be giving up a job that paid $118,285 a year, he would keep his $30,562 annual pension...and potentially be spared the embarrassment and consequences of his alleged misdeeds.
Soon after his resignation, Skip, his wife Terri, and their son James "Jimmy" Scandirito II would leave Michigan for the Sunshine State, buying a home in Boca Raton. Terri's health rapidly began to decline and she passed away in April 2017 of lung cancer.
Around the same time, Jimmy had not only lost his mother but also his wife, though this was due to divorce rather than disease. Jimmy lost his job and the six figure income that came with it as well and decided to move back in with his father. They would go on to share the 1,900 square foot home in the suburbs for the next year.
The following Spring it seemed that Jimmy's luck hadn't improved when he reported his father missing on April 1, 2018. When officers responded to the report, 50-year-old Jimmy told them that his father had been on a kayaking trip with a Latina woman that his father had not introduced him to but investigators didn't buy this story and returned to the Scandirito home two days later with a warrant to search the house and garage. Tests revealed the presence of blood in a part of the garage that was conspicuously cleaner than the rest of the room. Further investigation into Jimmy's activities revealed the most suspicious shopping spree ever; a hand cart dolly, Pine Sol, large trash bags, duct tape, paper towels, and a mop.
In the early hours of the following morning, police followed Jimmy to the abandoned Ocean Breeze Golf Club and watched as he walked out onto the golf course carrying large suitcases and returned awhile later, tossing said suitcases into a nearby dumpster, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that he was being followed.
Looking out from the second floor with a view of the pool and golf course | Photo © 2018 Sugarbomb
When investigators opened the suitcases Jimmy had discarded, they found bloody clothing, maggots, and that oh-so-familiar smell of decomposition.
Investigators found a recently disturbed area in one of the golf course's sand pits and in a shallow suburban grave was two large trash bags filled with the dismembered body parts of James "Skip" Scandirito. Jimmy was promptly arrested and charged with first degree murder.
At trial, Jimmy testified that on the night of March 28, 2018, he and his father had been drinking, eaten edibles, and smoked marijuana in the most suburban way possible; through a vape pen. Apparently not satisfied with the amount of drugs he'd already consumed, Jimmy began doing lines of cocaine off of a raised serving platter that he claimed he and his father commonly used for that purpose. He said on that particular evening his father declined his offer to partake in the cocaine, saying he already had a "good buzz" and had to be up early the next day to attend the Miami Open tennis tournament. Jimmy stated that he left the house to go smoke a cigarette and was texting his girlfriend on an outside patio for approximately an hour and a half and when he returned back to the house he found his father collapsed and unresponsive over the tray of cocaine. Allegedly believing that his father had done cocaine and that had potentially caused his death, Jimmy worried that he would be blamed for the death of Skip if he called the police since he had been the one to bring the cocaine into the house. Jimmy said he tried to put his father into bed so he could claim that he had found him deceased later, but the dead weight was too much for him to move so he did the next logical thing he could think of - wheel his dad's body out into the garage on a dolly and dismember him!
James "Jimmy" Scandirito II and his father James "Skip" Scandirito | Photos © 2018 WPBF News
While Jimmy's thought processes and story could be considered questionable at best, the Coroner found no indications of "homicidal violence" or any trauma to the body beyond what was done during the dismemberment. He did however find that Skip's heart showed evidence of heart disease and medical records revealed he had already had a triple bypass surgery done to attempt to correct his chronic health issues. It was likely due to this testimony that the jury found Jimmy not guilty of the first count of first degree murder but only on the second count of abusing a dead human body - i.e. the dismemberment. At sentencing, the judge was less forgiving of Jimmy's actions than the jury had been and sentenced him to fifteen years in prison.
Less than four months after the bags Skip Scandirito's remains were dug up in a sand trap, my oblivious ass was photographing the abandoned country club, pondering how I was going to possibly make this place interesting enough to write about. Sure, it looked like they'd just up and left everything behind when the building had closed down, including an entire library room full of books and what looked like a woodshop with various power tools laying around, but that's more of a testament to the wastefulness of our society than to the interesting history of the building itself. Little did I know I was urbexing right in the middle of a true crime drama - and morbid or not, dismemberment is infinitely more interesting than golf.