37-Year-Old Murder Case Finally Solved by Florida Officials

Detectives in Florida last week confirmed that the individual suspected of murdering bodybuilder Billy Halpern in his Miramar, Florida home in October 1986, was indeed responsible for the crime and announced that the case was officially closed.

William “Billy” Halpern was 28 years old when he was brutally murdered on October 21, 1986. The bound and beaten former paramedic and avid bodybuilder was found in the bedroom of his Woodscape subdivision townhome with his throat “cut ear to ear” by an unknown sharp instrument.

Two men acquainted with Halpern through his work at the Apollo Gym in Hollywood, Florida – 28-year-old Harry Van Collier and 31-year-old James Hinote Jr. – were both fatally shot in the head in a home in Pembroke Pines seven months after Halpern was murdered.

In January, detectives with the Miramar Police Department revealed new information that suggested that one of the victims, Harry Van Collier, may have been responsible for Halpern’s murder.

Miramar Police Detective Danny Smith told reporters at the time that if Collier was still alive, he would be charged with the murder of Billy Halpern.

According to Detective Smith, Halpern’s murder was linked to the Apollo Gym, a known front business for drugs, loan sharking, and murder for hire. Throughout the 1980s, between 12 to 30 murders in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties could be linked to the gym, which was owned by former Miami-Dade Police Officer Gil Fernandez.

Fernandez was convicted in 1991 alongside Apollo Gym manager Hubert Christie for a 1983 triple murder when he was still a serving officer and is currently serving three life sentences.

Fernandez and Christie are also suspects in the killings of several members of Apollo Gym. 

At the time of Billy Halpern’s murder, Collier was a suspect because his fingerprints were found in Halpern’s home. Collier’s fingerprints were also found at the scene of a double murder in Tamarac that occurred just days before Collier was shot in the head along with James Hinote.

Detective Smith said in January that there were similarities between the crime scene in Tamarac and the scene of Halpern’s murder. In both cases, the victims were bound with electrical tape, and a sharp, unknown instrument was used.

Last Tuesday, Smith announced that the murder of Billy Halpern had been “exceptionally cleared” and the Miramar Police Department was certain that Collier was responsible.

Smith said it was likely that Collier killed Halpern, who worked at Apollo Gym, to keep him from saying anything about the criminal activity that took place at the business.