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Suit targets Loggerhead Marina after pair slain there

ST. PETERSBURG — In April of last year, the bodies of Germana Morin and John Travlos were found on a yacht called the Relax Inn.

They had been tortured, stabbed and killed by a man who police said worked as a part-time handyman for the retired residents who lived at Loggerhead Marina, at 5821 32nd Way S. Workers discovered the pair on April 12, 2013.

Neighbors said Morin, 74, and Travlos, 75, had known Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, 41, for months. He rode Travlos' golf cart between his apartment complex and the marina.

They may not have seen the violence coming, but a civil lawsuit filed in Pinellas County on behalf of Morin's husband alleges that Loggerhead Marina should have.

Figueroa-Sanabria's background includes an arrest and extradition for domestic violence, as well as a warrant for drug trafficking out of Massachusetts. In 2008, according to the Department of Justice, he fled Puerto Rico because he was a suspect in four murders in three neighborhoods.

"What everybody wants is to hold Loggerhead responsible for hiring an individual who was a suspected murderer," said Thomas Cope, an attorney for Morin's husband, Frank.

In a brief statement, attorneys for the marina said their clients are not responsible for the deaths and said the marina never employed Figueroa-Sanabria.

• • •

In the months leading up to her killing, Germana Morin was healing from a series of family tragedies.

She and Frank moved to Odessa from New York to care for their oldest daughter, Adrianna, who was dying of pancreatic cancer.

While their daughter was undergoing chemotherapy in March 2012, her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. She followed a month later, leaving their 17-year-old son in her parents' care.

"Germana needed a break," Cope said.

So she turned to Travlos, a longtime friend with a houseboat docked at the Loggerhead Marina, off Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg.

She lived there with him for 18 months. But near the end, Cope said, she began to meet up with family more frequently. She was planning to move back to New York, he said, to the home where she'd lived with her husband for more than 52 years.

"Unfortunately she just never got a chance to follow through with that," Cope said.

• • •

Figueroa-Sanabria was arrested a day after the slayings when a highway trooper pulled over his rented car outside Raleigh, N.C.

In 2011, Figueroa-Sanabria was working for a boat brokerage on Loggerhead property when he was extradited to Puerto Rico to serve time for a domestic violence charge from 2008.

Police in St. Petersburg can't specify the details of those crimes, and it's not clear whether or how much time he served in Puerto Rico after his extradition. It's also unclear why a bulletin was posted by U.S. Marshal's Office about his suspected involvement in killings there, but he was never charged. At some point before the spring of 2013 he returned, and the marina, Cope said, hired him as a night security officer. Cope said the marina never conducted a background check.

"They let this guy stay there, they let him work there, they introduced him to all these retirees who were there and said, 'Hey, let him be your handyman,' " Cope said.

Attorneys for Loggerhead's parent company, Seven Kings Holdings, said that characterization was incorrect.

"Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria was never employed by Loggerhead Marina, and any information to the contrary is inaccurate," attorney Erin C. Slattery said in an email.

The company refused to give further details "out of respect to the families of the deceased and the judicial process," the statement read.

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty for Figueroa-Sanabria.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Suit targets Loggerhead Marina after pair slain there 05/15/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:32am]
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