Published: Sun, October 22, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Three deaths in Tampa neighborhood likely linked, cops say

Three deaths in Tampa neighborhood likely linked, cops say

Police say a run of three killings in a Tampa, Florida, neighborhood are connected, frightening residents and leading officers on a search for a suspect.

Dugan said he was frustrated that officers did not catch the killer on Thursday night despite deploying a helicopter, SWAT team, and K9s.

In part, the police presence is to help the neighborhood feel at ease, but also so officers can continue to probe for what people may have seen.

All three victims were bus riders and all three were shot at or near bus stops. "We need everyone to come out of their homes at night", said Chief Dugan.

"We've gotten some tips", said Tampa police spokesman Steve Hegarty. "He took the wrong bus to this neighborhood", Dugan said.

The autistic man's death Thursday was the third in a string of suspicious deaths beginning 10 days earlier when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell's body was found roughly 100 yards from where Naiboa was killed. They said he was about to walk home when someone shot him.

Investigators are searching for a person who was seen in surveillance video near the area the night that Mitchell was killed.

"Do not assume this is a white person".

Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32, was found dead October 13 in a vacant lot located within the neighborhood. Her body was found in a field on October 13.


The only thing connecting the crimes so far, officials said, are that they happened in the same neighborhood, and the victims shot were with a firearm when alone at night.

Detectives have not discovered any connection between the victims.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction. He described Mitchell as a "good person who comes from a good family" and said that while Hoffa "had some challenges in her life", there is no reason to believe there was motive to kill her. And they've asked residents to leave porch light and other external lights on at night.

"Do cookouts, walk your dog", he said. "We're going door to door and chatting with people".

Chief Dugan says anyone traveling alone in the area of the murders will be considered one of two things for now. When asked if he thought the murders could point to a possible serial killer, he said it was clear that the murders were linked.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this person is out there, and it's frustrating and it makes me angry that they're able to vanish so quickly", Dugan said.

At a news conference, Dugan expressed his exasperation and how he went from frustration to anger when dealing with the unsolved homicides.

But even for those who do not have information, Dugan urged residents to stand up to whoever is victimizing the neighborhood. It's just hard to see this happen'.

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