Alexandria businessman's slaying a shock, mystery

Sam Del Brocco
Sam Del Brocco (Courtesy PCI Communications Inc.)
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sam Del Brocco's colorful life as a psychologist, rock musician and finally chief executive of a consulting company in Alexandria came to a sudden end in a quiet, gated community in Florida on Sunday. And police there say someone killed him.

Del Brocco, 60, co-founded PCI Communications, just off Duke Street, where he helped corporate clients including Fannie Mae, Merck and the Washington Nationals with marketing. He also gave motivational speeches to groups looking to sharpen their organization or find new ways to innovate.

For years, Del Brocco lived in Alexandria, although he had recently bought an eight-bedroom house in the Fort Hunt area of Fairfax County for $1.1 million. He had planned to renovate it, his longtime business and music partner, Robert W. Sprague, said Tuesday. One of Del Brocco's passions was fixing up homes and then selling them, Sprague said.

Del Brocco also had a house in Pompano Beach, Fla., just north of Fort Lauderdale, in Hillsboro Bay by the Sea, a gated community of large homes. When no one had heard from him by Sunday night, Broward County sheriff's officials said, deputies were sent to the house, where they found Del Brocco dead.

An autopsy performed Monday determined that the death was a homicide. Broward sheriff's spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said investigators declined to release the cause of his death, and she said she did not know whether anyone had broken into the house or committed robbery.

Neighbors told WFOR-TV in Miami that Del Brocco had recently moved into the house and visited occasionally. They said the community was typically safe and uneventful.

Alexandria and Fairfax police said they had not been asked to assist with the investigation.

In Alexandria, "no one can really comprehend this," Sprague said. "There was a lot of affection for him, so no one can make any sense of what went down."

Del Brocco was born in Fulton, N.Y., and moved with his family to Hollywood, Fla., where he graduated from Chaminade High School, Sprague said. Del Brocco received a bachelor's degree in speech and drama from Catholic University and a master's degree from Loyola College. After college, he worked as a school psychologist and helped develop crisis management programs for administrators and teachers in Prince George's County.

But Del Brocco's real goal was to be a music star. In the early 1970s, he launched an eight-piece show band, the Sammy Del Brocco Show, for which he was the lead singer. In 1978, he hired Sprague to play keyboard. The group recorded three albums -- "none were hit records," Del Brocco wrote on -- and played hotels and resorts worldwide for 13 years.

"Those years of touring as a singer and writing music now form the basis of [my] life and career," Del Brocco wrote, "and they constantly influence [my] work as a master communications strategist, motivational speaker and film, video and event producer."

In 1985, he and Sprague started a small company to do music for organizations such as the United Way and the Red Cross. They later expanded it to more general marketing, Sprague said.

Del Brocco pushed PCI to provide free marketing assistance and help for employees at the Carpenter's Shelter, an Alexandria homeless-assistance project. "He was driven to excel," Sprague said, "always pushing for something better.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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