Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appeals court rules against Florida death row inmate who sued to get victim's truck

TAMPA — Time has not healed Michele Kroeger.

Nearly seven years after her father was slain, she struggles to cope with not having him around to see her daughter start school or her baby son walk.

His killer sits on death row, but even that brings little solace.

William Deparvine, convicted of murdering Tierra Verde residents Richard and Karla Van Dusen, has gone far beyond the typical appeals associated with a death sentence. He has burdened Richard Van Dusen's family with a lawsuit claiming the vintage Chevy pickup jurors said Deparvine killed them for is rightfully his.

Late last week, it appeared the drawn-out, costly legal battle might finally end.

Three appellate judges affirmed on Friday a circuit judge's finding that Richard Van Dusen's estate was in fact the truck's lawful owner. The 2nd District Court of Appeal did not write an opinion, giving Deparvine, 58, slim chance for further judicial review.

"I hope this is the last we hear from him, but I'm still not 100 percent convinced," Kroeger, the personal representative of her father's estate, said Monday.

Her wariness is understandable. In March, Deparvine also threatened to sue her over the refurbished red 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne her divorced father bought in the late 1990s when he was looking for a hobby.

Richard Van Dusen put it up for sale after remarrying, and Deparvine responded to the classified ad.

Authorities say Deparvine planned to rob and kill the Van Dusens while making it look like he bought the truck and someone else shot them in the head.

The St. Petersburg steel construction worker, just seven months out of prison, even typed up a bill of sale that included 58-year-old Richard Van Dusen's signature.

The day after Deparvine met the Van Dusens to purchase the Chevy, their bodies were found lying facedown in a dirt driveway near Old Memorial Highway in northwest Hillsborough County.

Despite his 2005 conviction, Deparvine continued to argue that the bill of sale proved he owned the truck.

His letter to Kroeger last spring marked the first time he contacted her personally. He accused her of stealing his truck and selling it without his permission. He gave her 30 days to send him $61,800 — three times the alleged value — to avoid another lawsuit.

She has no intention of paying. Though Deparvine's previous civil claims may have had some merit, Kroeger's attorney believes his latest move does not.

"Nothing he might continue to do would have any legitimacy at all," Clearwater attorney Richard Pearse Jr. said. "From this point forward, it would be pure harassment."

Kroeger just wants Deparvine to leave her family alone.

"All this shows that he has absolutely no remorse for what he's done," she said. "Not that it would change anything if he had remorse. But the fact that he continues to pursue us and to make life more miserable, it's just unbelievable."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Appeals court rules against Florida death row inmate who sued to get victim's truck 09/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 6:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.