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Infamous killers of Tampa Bay, a region familiar with horror

By Zachary T. Sampson
Oba Chandler [Times files]

TAMPA — Three people have been shot and killed in the last two weeks in Seminole Heights, and police say the cases are related. On Thursday night it was Anthony Naiboa, 20, who just happened to get on the wrong bus.

Authorities have warned people not to walk in the neighborhood alone at night. The killings threaten to send Tampa Bay plummeting into paranoia. It is, unfortunately, a familiar state for the region.

In recent decades, a number of killers have ushered evil into the community, with fear and lurid rumors ricocheting through vague police reports. Here are some of the stories:

Oba Chandler

Few cases have ever gripped Tampa Bay like the rapes and murders of an Ohio mother and her two daughters in 1989. Their bodies were found floating in the bay, tied to concrete blocks.

Joan Rogers, 36, was here vacationing with her children, Michelle, 17, and Christe, 14, when they met Oba Chandler. He lured them to his boat, Gypsy 1, with the promise of a sunset cruise in June.

It took investigators three years to tie Chandler to the crime. He was executed by lethal injection in 2011.

Gerald Stano

At least seven years passed before police caught Gerald Stano in 1980. He had killed 25 women in Florida, maybe more. Possibly 15 of them were in Tampa Bay.

The women had little in common — they were different ages and races and Stano found them in different ways. He shot some of them and stabbed and choked others.

He was executed in 1998.e_SClBEdwin Bernard "Mike" Kaprat III

In the span of seven horrifying weeks in 1993, Kaprat raped and murdered five elderly women in Hernando County. A handyman, he then burned the women’s bodies and houses.

He was stabbed while on death row at Florida State Prison.

Hank Earl Carr

It began with the death of a 4-year-old boy and continued with the murder of two Tampa police detectives and then a state trooper. On May 19, 1998, Hank Earl Carr killed his girlfriend’s son, Joey, in front of his sister. He was a felon wanted in four states and known for violence. But the two Tampa detectives who put him in the back of their police car did not know about his past. He managed to slip off his handcuffs and grab a pistol off one of them before killing them and hijacking the car.

He led police on a 22-mile chase, shooting at passing cars. A state trooper was killed during the pursuit, which ended when Carr pulled into a Shell gas station and took the clerk as hostage. He barricaded himself for four hours, eventually taking his own life. e_SClBSilvio Izquierdo-Leyva

A hotel laundryman burst into the Radisson Bay Harbor Hotel on Dec. 30, 1999, the last payday of the year, and opened fire, killing four co-workers. Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva said he heard evil voices. He fretted, certain that any time his colleagues smiled, the joke was on him. After the shooting — which killed Eric Pedroso, 29, Barbara Carter, 55, Jose R. Aguilar, 40, and George C. Jones, 44, and injured three other people — Izquierdo-Leyva killed another woman, 56-year-old Dolores Perdomo, while trying to steal her car.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2002.

Steven Lorenzo and Scott Schweickert

Fourteen years ago, Seminole Heights was the site of another grisly pair of murders. Steven Lorenzo, left, and Scott Schweickert lured two gay men to Lorenzo’s home, drugged them, then sexually tortured and killed them.

Their victims were Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz. Lorenzo was sentenced to 200 years in federal prison and still faces the death penalty on state murder charges.

Schweickert said they cut up Galehouse and put pieces of him in trash bins around the city. He was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison, pleaded guilty to murder and got a life sentence in exchange for his testimony against Lorenzo.

Oscar Ray Bolin Jr.

From January to December 1986, police kept finding women wrapped in sheets, either a day or a month after they had disappeared. Natalie Blanche Holley, 25, vanished after finishing her shift at a Church’s Fried Chicken in Tampa. Stephanie Collins, 17, was last seen walking to her car outside the Carrollwood drugstore where she worked. Teri Lynn Matthews, 26, never arrived at her parents’ Pasco County home after she finished the night shift at a Tampa bank.

Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. was convicted in the murders after his half-brother testified against him. A task force in Florida tried to link him to murders in 26 other states, but he was only officially connected to the kidnap, rape and murder of one woman in Texas.

He was executed by lethal injection in 2016.

Bobby Joe Long

In 1984, Virginia Lee Johnson’s body was found decomposing in a Pasco County horse pasture. She was kidnapped, raped and strangled. She was the first in the growing list of women Bobby Joe Long would be found guilty of torturing and killing over a span of six months.

Long confessed to killing 10 women. His wife said after he hurt his head in a motorcycle accident, he committed a series of at least 50 "hitchhiker rapes."

He is awaiting execution.e_SClBJohn William Ferry Jr.

Billy Ferry burned 18 people at a Winn Dixie in 1983, killing five, including a 4-year-old girl. Witnesses said he lit a fire using gasoline and laughed as he ran out of the store in Clair-Mel. The blaze killed 23-year-old Martha Vance and her daughter, Jennifer, 4; 27-year-old Melody Darlington; 16-year-old Misty McCullough; and 20-year-old Leigh Carter.

Ferry is serving life in prison.

James Randall

In 1997, the largest manhunt in Pinellas County sought James Randall, who was branded as a sexual sadist by doctors. He was accused of killing at least five women in two states, but only convicted in the murders by strangulation of two Clearwater prostitutes: Wendy Evans in 1995 and Cynthia Pugh in 1996.

Two of the other women were also from Clearwater, and the other was from Massachusetts. He was sentenced to death, but it was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court, who believed the prosecution failed to show the murders were premeditated.

The ruling by the Supreme Court led to Randall being resentenced. He is now facing two life terms.e_SClBNewton Slawson

Peggy Wood, 21, was 81/2 months pregnant when she was shot and stabbed, her stomach sliced open and the fetus removed. But before she died, she managed to crawl next door to her mother and tell her who did it — Newt Slawson, an acquaintance of Wood and her husband, Gerald, 23. Slawson killed the Woods and their children, 4-year-old Jennifer and 3-year-old Glendon, in Tampa in April 1989.

He was executed in 2003.

Brian K. Rosenfeld

Authorities are sure he killed more people, but Brian K. Rosenfeld only pleaded guilty to three murders in 1992.

A nursing home nurse in the 1980s, he fatally injected patients before his arrest in 1990. Investigators found 29 people who had died in his care and were buried across the country. They examined 201 deaths at 14 nursing homes in Pinellas County.

Rosenfeld was sentenced to life in prison.

Contact Zachary T. Sampson at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson. Contact Melissa Gomez at [email protected] Follow @melissagomez004.