Lara Antiporek ended the desperate search for her father with a discovery so gruesome that three days later, she still can’t get it out of her head.
When she finally pried open the burning hot door of the sauna in the family’s North Miami Beach condo, she said she found a body she didn’t recognize, with charred skin, some of it stuck to a bench where Dennis Antiporek had been lying.
Antiporek was unrecognizable to his adult daughter.
“When I opened the door I looked and there was a black man in the sauna. It wasn’t my dad,” she said.
Only three hours earlier, at about 11 p.m. Sunday, Antiporek had left a note for his wife on the apartment’s refrigerator saying he had gone down to the sauna, as the retired sheet metal worker did several nights a week. But this time was different.
Three hours later, when Ronni Antiporek awoke, her husband still hadn’t returned.
Panicked, she woke up Lara, who scrambled to get dressed, then went downstairs and first searched her father’s car and then the condo before finally making her way to the sauna in the men’s locker room.
The investigation into Antiporek’s death took a twist when North Miami Beach police decided to take control despite a doctor having already signed off on Antiporek’s death as a natural occurrence. The family quickly hired a personal injury attorney to determine if the building or its manager is at fault for Dennis Antiporek’s death.
“We read the report the next morning and said, ‘Wait a second,’ ” said North Miami Beach Police Maj. Kathy Katerman. “We went to the funeral home, got the body, and got it over to the medical examiner. It could be the sauna, it could natural.”
The Miami-Dade County medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of Antiporek’s death.
Antiporek is a 68-year-old retiree who moved to South Florida from Chicago and bought his Eden Isles condo at 3750 NE 170th St. in 1988. He and his wife would have celebrated their 50th anniversary later this year.
Joseph Madalon, the attorney hired by the family to investigate the death, said despite a stent in an artery leading to Antiporek’s heart, he seemed to be in good physical condition. Madalon said his firm is looking into whether the sauna had a defective timer, a broken thermostat or flawed coils. No one has said what the temperature was in the sauna when Antiporek died.
But the most obvious and intriguing question still remains unanswered: Why didn’t Antiporek just walk out of the sauna when it got too hot?
That’s a question Madalon couldn’t answer, and one Eden Isles Condominium attorney Marlon Bryan wouldn’t attempt to answer.
Madalon suggested Antiporek could have fallen asleep, passed out, or even suffered a heat-induced coronary issue. But, Madalon said, any of those scenarios still wouldn’t clear the condo or its management company of neglect.
“I think it was multiple issues,” Madalon said. “We know the timer wasn’t functioning. But there is no acceptable heat in a sauna that it would burn your skin.”
Bryan said he wouldn’t respond or speculate as to the cause of death until the investigation is complete.