Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco man found incompetent to stand trial in murder, arson

NEW PORT RICHEY — A man accused of strangling a woman and setting her house on fire last year has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Charles Edward Dear has been ordered to a mental hospital after a psychologist examined him and a judge this month concluded he is incompetent to face charges of arson and second-degree murder.

In legal terms, incompetency means the defendant lacks the mental capacity to understand the court proceedings or assist in his own defense.

A defendant's competency can be restored through mental health treatment. Once found competent again, a defendant can then face trial.

On June 17, 2008, a house on Darlington Road in Holiday went up in smoke. Firefighters found no one inside.

Almost two days later, a 13-year-old boy went to the charred property looking for his friend, the son of the woman renting the house. The boys had been building a motorbike together.

There, the 13-year-old found a body under a fresh patch of dirt in the back yard, with flies circling around it. Firefighters had missed it while they fought the blaze.

Medical examiners determined it was Theresa Jones, 46, the home's tenant. She had been strangled. The house most likely was burned to hide evidence, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.

This June — one year after Jones' death — sheriff's detectives arrested Dear, 45, who had briefly rented a room from her.

Dear was originally booked on burglary and stalking charges. He had been a suspect in Jones' death, so a detective interviewed him about the case, the Sheriff's Office said, and Dear confessed.

Dear was convicted in 2005 of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Pinellas County and served more than two years in prison.

He also faces other charges unrelated to Jones' death, including several counts of auto burglary and one count of indecent exposure.

A status review in Dear's case is set for June 2010.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco man found incompetent to stand trial in murder, arson 12/23/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott for President?


    Reubin Askew tried. So did Bob Graham. And Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. When you've shown an ability to win statewide elections in America's biggest swing state, you're almost automatically a credible contender for president.

    Rick Scott
  2. The next step in a sex abuse survivor's recovery: Erasing her tattoo


    TAMPA — Even after 20 years, Sufiyah can't escape the memories of being sexually exploited by gang members as a teenager.

    The tattoo makes it impossible.

    Sufiyah, an aAbuse survivor, prepares to have a tattoo removed  at Tampa Tattoo Vanish  on Thursday. During her teen years, she was sexually exploited by a gang. The tattoo is a mark of her exploiters. 

Tampa Tattoo Vanish is a new tattoo removal business run by Brian Morrison, where survivors of human trafficking get free tattoo removal.  [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  3. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  4. St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has put the legal fallout from the sewage crisis behind it.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city recently learned that no employees will face charges as a result of that crisis. The St. Petersburg City Council also agreed to spend $326 million fixing its sewer system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. Epilogue: Tony Scaglione served Ybor delicacies and laughs


    Tony Scaglione's childhood dream was to own his family's restaurant.

    Tony Scaglione - the longtime owner of Tony's Ybor Restaurant - has died.  He was 87. Credit: Larry Scaglione