Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Victim recalls brutal stabbing in neo-Nazi murder trial

NEW PORT RICHEY — The first Christmas after his son was stabbed next door to a neo-Nazi compound, Guy King received a card from John Ditullio, the man in jail accused of the crime.

On the front was a tombstone that said, "Rest in peace" and "Here lies dead f--."

The message inside: "I hope your Christmas is full of memories of your dead gay son. Merry f------ Christmas."

It was signed "Syn," Ditullio's nickname, according to prosecutors.

During the opening day of Ditullio's trial on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, the prosecution offered the testimony of the surviving victim and said it has DNA evidence linking Ditullio to the 2006 double stabbing. But Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis said Ditullio's own writings may be most damning of all.

"These letters authored by the defendant are so incriminating," Halkitis told jurors, they could "convict this defendant based on his words alone."

In a letter Ditullio mailed to his own father from jail, Halkitis said, Ditullio declared, "It's high time I stand up and face the music."

Don't be upset, he told his father. "All this is my fault. These are my actions."

On March 23, 2006, Pasco authorities say, Ditullio put on a gas mask and broke into the home of Patricia Wells and stabbed her in the face and neck. Then he attacked 17-year-old Kristofer King, a friend of Wells' son. Wells was slashed in the face and hands but recovered from her injuries. King died.

Authorities have described the case as a hate crime. Wells told authorities the neo-Nazi group next door harassed her for weeks before the stabbing, shouting racial epithets and threatening her life. She had a black friend who sometimes visited her home, which infuriated them. In addition, King and Wells' son were gay, Halkitis said, and open about their sexuality, which also drew the neo-Nazis' ire.

Wells, 48, testified Monday that she was lying on her couch, dozing in front of the TV, when a man in a gas mask burst in and charged at her with a knife. She scrambled to a back bedroom, where King was sitting at a computer.

The masked man cornered Wells between two pieces of furniture, slashing at her with a 6-inch blade. When King tried to run, the masked man went after him.

As she fled the house to get help, Wells said, "The last words I heard from him (King) as I ran out the door were, 'Why are you doing this to me?' "

Wells said she never saw her attacker's face because it was concealed behind the gas mask. But when she saw a photo the next day of Ditullio being led away in handcuffs, she believed she was looking at the man who stabbed her, based on his height and build.

None of the others from the neo-Nazi compound, she said, fit the description.

But Bjorn Brunvand, Ditullio's attorney, told jurors that some of the evidence points to another neo-Nazi member as the attacker.

He said the clothing description Wells provided — white T-shirt and khaki pants — matched what Shawn Plott, another neo-Nazi member, was wearing when the attacker was seen running from the house that night. Ditullio was wearing a red T-shirt and black pants when he was arrested the next morning.

The state plans to present blood samples taken from the mask and Ditullio's boot that contain Wells' DNA. Brunvand said the DNA from the boot was tainted and that the blood could have gotten on the boot when Ditullio was being led away by deputies through the street where Wells left a bloody trail. And the sample taken from the mask, Brunvand said, also contained Plott's DNA.

He acknowledged that his client had motive to commit the stabbings because of his association with the neo-Nazis. But so did the others in the group, of which Ditullio was a prospect and not yet a full-fledged member.

"It is reasonable that the individuals who fled (after the stabbings), fled because they had been involved in a gruesome murder and they were all using young John Ditullio as the fall guy," Brunvand said.

He asked jurors not to jump to conclusions based on Ditullio's admitted bigotry. And he said they'll get to hear from Ditullio himself, as the defendant plans to testify later in the trial.

"At the end of this case, we're going to ask you not to like my client but to render a verdict based on the evidence and the lack of evidence," Brunvand said.

The state will seek the death penalty if Ditullio is convicted.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail in Land O'Lakes, has a policy to screen all outgoing mail, except for inmates' correspondence with their attorneys, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said. It's unclear how the letter to Guy King slipped through.

"That's one we should have caught but did not," Doll said.

Before he ever went to jail, Ditullio started documenting the events of March 23, 2006. In a notebook found inside the neo-Nazi compound, Halkitis said Ditullio wrote to the other group members on the night of the stabbings.

As he sat holed up in the Teak Street mobile home with a SWAT team surrounding him, he wrote: "I'm ready to die for what I believe in. I now know what it means to die for my race."

And: "I'm ready to shoot these cops until my hand stops working. … I'd rather be killed than to live with those n------ forever."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6245.

Victim recalls brutal stabbing in neo-Nazi murder trial 12/08/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921