Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man convicted in 1987 Largo murder

LARGO — After 21 years and one mistrial, a jury has convicted Jeffrey M. Lobik in the murder of Susan Heyliger, a bartender who was killed while closing up shop.

"It's huge," said Bill Heyliger, who had been married to Susan for 12 years at the time of her death, and has waited another two decades for this verdict. He said Susan was the mother of five children and her death "just ripped the family apart."

Lobik, 42, was immediately sentenced to life in prison after the jury issued its verdict Friday.

Susan Heyliger had been closing up shop at the Country Club Lounge in Largo in 1987 when someone descended from the drop ceiling, hit her in the head with a trophy, strangled her and slit her throat with a knife. The killer also stole money from a cash register.

Largo police had identified Lobik as a suspect, but he denied the crime and denied ever being in the crawl space above the ceiling. Prosecutor Jim Hellickson, who was involved in the case early on, said it was "really disheartening" to realize at the time there was not enough evidence to proceed.

Largo police, however, never dropped the matter. Detective Jim Coyle picked it up in 2004 as a "cold case," and managed to get Lobik to talk to him as he tape-recorded the conversation. Lobik admitted he had sneaked into the crawl space of the lounge to smoke crack, but continued to deny killing Heyliger.

That's when Coyle knew he had a case. Lobik had just been caught in a lie, because he had previously denied being in the crawl space.

Hellickson, the prosecutor, said that was a key part of the evidence he and fellow prosecutor Glenn Martin used in the case that was presented to the jury last week.

Lobik's attorney, Kandice Friesen, from the public defender's office, told jurors that the case was circumstantial. Not only that, but some circumstantial evidence pointed toward guilt and other evidence pointed toward innocence, and under the law that means a jury should find a defendant innocent, Friesen said.

Bill Heyliger says that for years after the killing, "I was the biggest critic of the Largo Police Department."

He pushed for more aggressive investigation, and wanted prosecutors to at least attempt the case.

But now, he says, he is deeply impressed with the work of prosecutors and Largo police over all these years.

"Frankly, they've astounded me in their persistence on the case," Heyliger said Monday.

Man convicted in 1987 Largo murder 10/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 7:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man crashes into parked cars, gate at the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque

    Crime

    A Tampa man intentionally drove his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Shaun H. Urwiler, 42, was arrested July 16 for intentionally driving his pick-up truck into two parked vehicles before smashing through the locked gate of the Islamic Society of Tampa Mosque, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  3. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  4. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]