By Timothy J. Gibbons
Published by Daytona Beach News-Journal on November 5, 1999.

DEBARY -- A marina owner accused of hiring a transsexual trucker to kill his stepmother left jail Thursday after posting a $1 million bail bond.

Donald Bauerle Jr., of DeBary, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Police say he agreed to pay his friend, Lionel Beak bane, of Kansas, $250,000 to kill Bauerle's stepmother, Janet Brush. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Beakbane planned on using the money to get a sex change operation and was already taking hormone shots when he was arrested in September.

Bauerle, 49, turned himself in to the Martin County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday and was held overnight. Thursday morning, he asked for a lower bail, but that request was denied.

Bauerle, who owns Highbanks Marina & Camp Resort in DeBary and developed a San ford business park, has been plotting for years to kill his stepmother, police said.

Bauerle believes his 64-year-old stepmother killed his father in 1995 and is upset she receives a $10,000-a-month payment from his father's trust fund, said Wayne Ivy, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent who testified during Beakbane's appearance in a Kansas court.

I've been a police officer for a little over 19 years," Ivy said. "This is one of the oddest cases I've ever worked. I hope it is the oddest."

Beakbane, police said, made one attempt to kill Brush in July.

Dressed as a woman, Beakbane approached Brush at her home in Sewalls Point, a wealthy enclave near Port St. Lucie. He brought her flowers he said were from a secret admirer. Beakbane wore surgical gloves as well as a dress and planned on shooting the woman then, authorities said, but got spooked by how close the houses were.

The environment wasn't as conducive as he thought it would be," Ivy said. "He chose to come back later."

Later never happened. The 49-year-old trucker was arrested while preparing to embark on an over-the-road haul to California, where police said he planned to buy a silencer and then try again.

Authorities in Indian River County were tipped off to the conspiracy by a woman who told the Indian River County Sheriff's Office that Beakbane offered her $10,000 if she would provide him an alibi at the time he killed Bauerle's stepmother.

Bauerle and Beakbane have known each other since they attended high school in Fort Lauderdale, Ivy said.

Police said the two began discussing the crime about a year after Bauerle's father, Donald Sr., died.

Around that time, Brush filed suit against sued her late husband's trust, of which both Brush and Bauerle Jr. are co-trustees. If Brush died, Bauerle Jr. would be the sole trustee.

The trust, Brush said, was supposed to buy an annuity that would pay her $10,000 a month for life, but Bauerle Jr. wanted to pay her the money each month and not tie up the funds in an annuity. He countersued to remove her as a trustee. That case is pending.

Bauerle, administrator of his father's estate, also sued his stepmother for failing to pay back a $50,000 loan she received from his father four months before his death. That pending suit, which also is pending, states Brush never repaid the money.

Bauerle "adamantly denies" any involvement with Beakbane's plans for murder, said Robert Buonauro, his attorney.

"We're looking forward to our day in court," he said. "We're going to come down to a situation where my client's credibility will win out in the end."

If convicted, Bauerle faces up to 30 years in prison.

Beakbane pleaded no contest to the conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate with police as part of a plea agreement. He was not promised a reduced sentence, authorities said, and faces up to 15 years in prison, but his sentencing is on hold pending Bauerle's case.


This is a showcase of the work done by Timothy J. Gibbons during a journalism career now stretching back more than a decade.

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