Seminole Heights, Tampa, FL — Police have offered a reward up to $100,000 “for information that helps solve the Seminole Heights homicides” as more parties throughout the Tampa area have contributed to the fund. Mayor Bob Buckhorn said that,
We need to and will find who’s committing these heinous, senseless murders and when we do, it will be because of people like Richard, the Seminole Heights community, Tampa Police Department and our partners in the law enforcement community who have poured their blood, sweat and tears into bringing this killer to justice.”
How do rewards like this work? The money comes from different facets of the community—most of it is from law enforcement partners, but some are from fundraisers within the community and donations from private citizens. A local restaurant owner donated $9,000 to the fund.
The Tampa PD urges locals “with any information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873 (TIPS).”
I’m currently writing from a house in Seminole Heights. Daily life seems to continue on as usual, though the streets are particularly unpopulated especially during the night. Though people in their homes are on edge, the victims were killed whilst walking alone outside in the dark. It seems to be a crime of opportunity for the killer, using the cover of darkness to elude authorities and remain at large.
The four homicides have occurred in just over a month’s time, killing Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and most recently, Ronald Felton. Though the police hesitate to jump to conclusions, video caught a man leaving the scene of a previous killing, and then the same man leaving after the death of Mr. Felton. They have officially labelled the mysterious man a suspect.
Tampa PD released this video of the suspected killer—as you can see, the color of the man’s clothes can be a little misleading, as it seems to vary in brightness and color from camera to camera. He appears to be rather nonchalant as he looks at his phone, having likely just returned from a murder.
The killings have all occurred in the Seminole Heights area, a neighborhood described by Mayor Buckhorn as a “10-block, 15-block block area.” It is located in southern Tampa, just south of the Hillsborough river. The crime rate is fairly high in the area, though an active serial killer is certainly far out of the norm. Most crimes in the neighborhood consist of theft, assault and burglary.
Images courtesy of Tampa PD and Tampa PD Twitter