Investigators wonder if young model Paula Sladewski's drop-dead good looks may have turned the head of a crazed killer during a wild night of partying at a Miami nightclub in January 2010.
The stunning 26-year-old was found murdered in the ugliest of ways just hours after leaving the club on the morning of January 3, 2010.
Paula Sladewski grew up in Detroit, Michigan. She didn't just have beauty going for her, she also had brains and personality.
Paula went to college in California to study for a nursing career, and financed it by using her looks to model. She auditioned for Playboy, and though she never appeared in the magazine, she was featured in a Playboy video. She also worked as an exotic dancer in California.
Paula moved in with a boyfriend named Kevin Klym. Paula and Kevin were tight. She even took him to her niece's wedding, and then to her sister Kelly's house for Christmas.
Kelly invited them to come over again for a New Year's Eve party a week later, but the couple had made plans to fly to Miami for a Lady Gaga concert.
Paula Sladewski and boyfriend Kevin Klym had planned to fly into Las Vegas from their home in Southern California for New Year's Eve.
"If she would have went to Vegas she would be alive," said Patsy Watkins, Paula's mother.
But Paula and Kevin changed their minds when they found a good deal on tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Miami.
They checked into a hotel in trendy South Beach for a long weekend of revelry at its many nightclubs, including Club Space, a popular after-hours joint in an industrial area of North Miami.
Paula and Kevin are said by police to be already very trashed when they arrive at Club Space around 5 a.m. Sunday after partying in South Beach for two days. After drinking for another couple of hours at the club, there's suddenly a problem: Paula is a girl gone wild.
"She was wearing a dress that was cut very low and showed off all her legs and her body," said private investigator David Wasser, who investigated the case.
"She started lifting up her dress. She wasn't wearing any underwear and it was creating quite a scene," said North Miami Police Detective Michael Gaudio.
"And people were all over her, you know. She was dancing with them, guys were at the bar getting very close to her," said Wasser.
"Kevin didn't like what he saw," said Gaudio.
"He wanted to get her out of there because it was time to go, and he grabbed her by the arm and said, 'Let's go babe, time to go,' and Paula resisted. She was having the time of her life," said Wasser. "I don't think they got into blows or anything like that. He was just grabbing her, 'We gotta go.'"
And Wasser says Kevin is kicked out of the club for causing a disturbance.
Kevin told investigators he jumped into a cab, headed back to his hotel and went to sleep.
Less than a half hour later, Paula is escorted out of the club too. And what she does then remains a mystery.
"We don't know if she got into a car, was walking with someone," said Wasser. "There's different stories, depends on what witness you believe."
It isn't until Paula's boyfriend Kevin wakes up alone in their hotel room about 11:30 a.m. that anyone even has an inkling something may have happened to her.
"He becomes concerned. He checks in with hotel staff. They haven't seen her. He starts to call around to hospitals," said Det. Gaudio.
And Kevin goes out to search for her. When he comes up empty, Kevin reports her missing to the police and hires David Wasser to help find her. Wasser scours Miami for clues, including in the area where Paula disappeared.
Still no sign of Paula, until Kevin calls the medical examiner's office: A Jane Doe had been found burned beyond recognition in a blazing trash bin about 12 miles from Club Space 13 hours after Paula had disappeared.
When the fire department extinguished the blaze and saw what was inside, they notified the police. The medical examiner got Paula's dental records from her family, and Paula was positively identified.
Police can't even tell Paula's family how she died.
"Paula was already dead prior to being set on fire. The medical examiner here who did the autopsy was able to determine that," said Gaudio.
"They said possible strangulation," said Paula's sister Kelly. "There was no knife marks or gunshot wounds and they said she was burned so bad that it was hard to tell."
Then Detective Gaudio discovers Paula's boyfriend Kevin was once arrested on domestic violence charges.
"He broke her nose. He was in jail. She filed charges against him," said Paula's mother, Patsy.
Police interviewed Kevin Klym for 12 hours.
"He cooperated with them and gave them everything," said private investigator David Wasser.
"Offering to do polygraphs, whatever law enforcement wanted, he was there to assist," said Kevin Klym's attorney, Marc Beginin.
Wasser was convinced Kevin was innocent, as was Beginin. Detective Michael Gaudio wasn't so sure.
Paula's domestic battery case against Kevin had ultimately been dismissed, although Paula's mom claims her daughter once told her Kevin had also threatened to kill her.
And Kevin and Paula's drunken argument at Club Space after she went wild and began flirting with other men wasn't the first time it had happened.
"It was definitely a rocky relationship. They were a couple that liked to party," said Gaudio.
But Kevin's attorney, Marc Beginin, says Kevin's alibi of going straight back to the hotel after Club Space was airtight, with cab and hotel records verifying.
"His alibi checked out 100 percent," said Wasser.
And eventually Detective Gaudio also came to believe Kevin may not have had anything to do with Paula's murder.
"We explored several avenues how he could have been involved. Nothing panned out on it," said Gaudio. "His story seemed credible. In the investigation we found that everything he was telling us was accurate."
Surveillance video from Club Space further supported Kevin's alibi.
A shadowy figure behind Paula on the video raised questions about whether her killer might even have followed her out of the club.
"As she's walking out she's got a man following her and there's a couple of bouncers sitting by the front door hallway there and they immediately follow her out of there as well," said Wasser.
"It was the one concrete piece of evidence that showed Kevin was not the last person to see Paula alive," said Beginin.
Detective Gaudio investigated all the bouncers at the club.
"And all their time sheets and records and their backgrounds. Nothing," said Gaudio. "Nothing panned out that they had anything to do with her disappearance at all."
Nor, says Detective Gaudio, did the man seen following her out the door, who turned out to also be one of the club's security staff.
Beginin still believes it is possible she was tailed by a patron in the club.
"What we do know is Paula left, there were some eyewitness accounts she left with another person, and that is all we know," said Beginin.
Police would later release a sketch of a man one witness said they saw walking away from the club with Paula.
"I decided to put that out in lieu of having anything else to put out there. Maybe we can find another witness who can verify a story that we heard of someone matching this description," said Det. Gaudio.
But that hasn't happened.
The remote industrial area where Paula's body was found incinerated in the trash bin is one of the reasons the detective thinks Kevin is innocent, because Kevin didn't have a car to get there, nor enough knowledge of Miami to find it. The killer is more likely to have been a local resident who knew the city well.
"It's not a place that tourists frequent," said Gaudio. "It's definitely an out-of-the-way dead-end street. So I think that it was somebody that knows that area that had something to do with it."
P.I. David Wasser agrees, and says the fact that neither he nor the police could find any witnesses who might have seen Paula's murderer disposing of her body and setting the Dumpster on fire, indicates the killer knew he would not be spotted. And none of the surveillance cameras at local businesses that might have captured something were working at the time.
Now, six years after the murder of Paula Sladewski, her killer is still free.
Crime Watch Daily was in communication with Kevin Klym for this story. He declined to be interviewed on camera. Police still label him a person of interest in this case. Detectives say he's cooperated fully with their investigation and right now he's at the bottom of the list of people they are investigating.