Monday, May 28, 2018
News Roundup

Former convict gives to fallen detective's ailing daughter

TAMPA —Eric Frazee's wild teen years led him to state prison at age 20 for armed burglary. He was still locked up when he lost his mom to organ failure in 2012.

Now 28, he has been free since August. Last week, his name showed up online, not for criminal activity, but for benevolence.

The Clearwater man donated $500 to help pay for a liver transplant for Demetra Bell Jones, daughter of a fallen Tampa police officer. Frazee is unemployed, but his mother left him some money.

"I spent almost eight years in prison," he posted at a website where Jones' aunt is collecting contributions, "and if I can find it in my heart to help, then we can raise this money."

In 12 days, such generosity has pushed Jones $40,000 closer to having a new liver to replace one failing from a life-threatening immune system disorder. She needs $179,600 — the balance not covered by insurance — before the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville will put her on a transplant list, her family says.

"Him coming out of prison and thinking of me just makes me feel very honored and very grateful," Jones told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday. "I know God puts people in our lives for a reason and he's put him in my life. I will forever be grateful and I hope that his life continues to be well."

The 38-year-old Fort Myers woman is the daughter of Tampa police detective Randy Bell, who was killed with his partner, Rick Childers, on May 19, 1998, when a felon in custody, Hank Earl Carr, unlocked handcuffs and grabbed a gun. Carr had already killed a little boy and went on to kill a state trooper.

Jones, who has struggled with immune and blood disorders since age 9, has autoimmune hepatitis and learned nearly two weeks ago that her immunosuppresent regimen of 30 pills a day is no longer working.

Mayo Clinic, where she has been treated off and on for five years, is her hospital of choice, but considered out of network on her husband's BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee health insurance plan.

The Times and Tampa Bay area television stations described her situation last week, and Frazee saw one of the reports.

"Has she not been through enough?" he said Sunday. "Has she not had a hard enough life?"

He donated to an account at the website, GoFundMe.com, set up by the late detective's sister. A second account, the Demetra Jones Medical Fund, has since been opened at Wells Fargo. Checks, made out to the Demetra Jones Medical Fund, may be mailed to Wells Fargo, 4776 Windsor Commons Court, Jacksonville, FL, 32224.

The online site shows close to 500 contributions. People leave notes, offering prayers, encouragement and gratitude.

"Your dad served us and protected us," one donor wrote.

Daran Abella gave. Her nephew, a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy, died in a 2004 car crash while responding to a call.

Julia Massucci gave. The retired Tampa police sergeant worked in the homicide unit with Jones' father.

"The thin blue line is strong," wrote Cheryl Hurley, retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "We will get you what you need."

Frazee, who attended Northeast High School and worked as a welder before he went to prison, has been watching the fund online, hoping it would grow faster. He didn't seek publicity for his gift. A reporter tracked him down through his father.

But during Frazee's interview with the Times, he issued this challenge. He said if the Tampa Police Department organizes a fundraiser, he will match up to $3,000. If it's a car wash, he said, he will help wash cars.

Frazee said prison made him grow up and appreciate life. He laments that he was just a year away from release when his mother, Angela Hoover, died at 50. A respiratory therapist, she worked in hospitals, including Largo Medical Center.

"She was a very caring person," he said. She would be happy with him for doing this, he knows.

"In the end, I just want to know that I tried to do something right in my life," he said.

Jones said she would like to thank "every single solitary person" who has helped so far.

"I just think to myself that so many people love me," she said. "So many are anonymous and I don't know who they are, but I have so many friends out there."

They include a woman who, a few days ago, posted this:

"We are all your family."

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at (813) 226-3382 or [email protected]

Comments
PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Putnam oppose putting troops on the border using the National Guard?

PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Putnam oppose putting troops on the border using the National Guard?

In Florida’s Republican primary for governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis challenged Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s credibility on illegal immigration.DeSantis cast Putnam as not being conservative enough on immigration in a chat May 2 with radio ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough’s film incentive has attracted $1.17 million in local spending, audits show

Hillsborough’s film incentive has attracted $1.17 million in local spending, audits show

TAMPA — When Steve Matzkin agreed to serve as executive producer on a movie project titled Not Alone, he set a condition: It had to be made in Tampa.For starters, the community is a fitting backdrop for the independent horror film about a family who ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Unflinching sentinel stood and walked to honor the fallen at Arlington’s tomb

Unflinching sentinel stood and walked to honor the fallen at Arlington’s tomb

Monday morning, thousands of people will make their way to Arlington National Cemetery for the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many more will watch on TV.The cube-shaped marble monument high on a grassy hill is...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Alberto takes aim on Panhandle; how local Starbucks handle trespassing; Arlington National Cemetery’s Sentinels; Shania Twain here this week

The Daystarter: Alberto takes aim on Panhandle; how local Starbucks handle trespassing; Arlington National Cemetery’s Sentinels; Shania Twain here this week

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• As Subtropical Storm Alberto continues on its north-northwest track to the Panhandle, today’s forecast for Tampa Bay calls for scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms, accordi...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hooper: Putnam should do Publix a favor and give money back

Adam Putnam should give back the $670,000 Publix and its executives donated to his campaign. People far wiser than me about politics say I’m wrong (that’s not a first). They insist such a move would make Putnam appear weak, capitulating to the so-cal...
Published: 05/28/18
Meteorologists are calling Alberto a 'subtropical storm.' What the heck is that?

Meteorologists are calling Alberto a 'subtropical storm.' What the heck is that?

The governor declared a state of emergency. Local marquee events for Sunday were canceled. The threat of bad weather brought by a subtropical storm named Alberto loomed over Tampa Bay for much of the weekend. But, in the end, the area dealt with on...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Crews were engaged in multiple water rescues and buildings collapsed in historic Ellicott City on Sunday evening as floodwaters raged through its streets following torrential thunderstorms, Howard County, Maryland, officials said.Maryland Gov. Larry ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 10 hours ago