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Celebration Florida's First Disney Murder

By Jason Beahm on December 03, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Can anything bad happen in place called Celebration, Florida? 

Residents didn't seem to think so. "I've always thought of Celebration as a very safe community," local Heather Hardy told the New York Daily News. But residents awoke Tuesday to discover Celebration's first reported major crime: murder. "This is very rare and unusual for a crime of this magnitude to occur in this community," Sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said.

The community, created in 1996, was set only five miles south of Walt Disney World and was designed to be a picture-perfect community with white picket fences and palm trees. Critics called it lame, a sort of "The Truman Show," or "Stepford Wives" project, but residents loved it and the community grew. With over 11,000 residents, it was in many ways only a matter of time before something like this happened.

Worried neighbors first called to report that Matteo Giovanditto hadn't been seen for days and his black Corvette was also missing. A neighbor, who was supposed to walk Giovanditto's dog, found that he wasn't responding to his calls. After a missing person's report was filed neighbors went to his apartment and found his body, The Associated Press reports.

The murder has some residents wondering whether Celebration Florida is all that it's cracked up to be. But the Sheriff's office was quick to call the murder an isolated incident. Neighboring cities do have more crime than Celebration, and neighbors in Celebration are keeping an eye out for each other. Police have not released any details on how Giovanditto died.

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