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At year's end, no arrests in 2 Tarpon Springs homicide cases

TARPON SPRINGS — Tarpon Springs police are still working to solve two homicides that occurred in the city in 2012.

As of Friday, no suspects have been arrested. Police are not releasing any new information on the two open investigations, said Sgt. Michael Trill.

"We're still working some leads," he said.

The two cases are the only homicides that the department recorded this year. That's a drop from a spike in 2011 of seven homicides. Tarpon Springs saw one in 2008, none in 2009 and one in 2010, according to the Police Department.

A body in the street

Early in the morning on July 31, police found 48-year-old Luther T. Shaw shot dead on Safford Avenue, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Next to him was a white sport utility vehicle with its driver's door open.

As investigators examined the scene near the Pinellas Trail, a man and a girl emerged from a house across the street. Police called the man a person of interest in the case.

A search warrant executed the same day shows that a police dog followed a trail from the body to the house. The girl inside said the man was "acting weird inside of the house," the warrant said.

Police searched the home and found a gun, shell casings and bullets.

Trill declined to comment on the status of the seized items. The man named in the search warrant has not been arrested or called a suspect.

A caretaker's discovery

On Dec. 6, a caretaker found the body of 73-year-old Eddie Dixon inside his apartment in North Ring Village, across the street from Tarpon Springs City Hall. Police didn't say how the former city worker and Vietnam veteran died, but said they were investigating it as a homicide.

At the time, police said Dixon likely knew his killer. Dixon's children said he was friendly with everyone and often didn't lock his doors at night.

'Unrebuttable self-defense'

There is one more death case in Tarpon Springs that police didn't count in their homicide numbers. On Jan. 22, authorities say Mary Kay Sprad-lin Hill, 52, called 911 and said she had just shot her husband.

The shooting apparently ended an argument between the couple: She told authorities that she was packing to leave their home at 2107 Alexis Court when her husband pointed a gun at her.

She pulled a gun from her purse and shot him once in the chest, killing him, authorities said. Police discovered a gun next to Willard "Bill" Newton Hill's body in the couple's bedroom.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office closed the investigation in May without filing charges.

"We couldn't proceed based on an unrebuttable self-defense theory," said assistant state attorney Evan Drodsky. He explained: "She claimed self-defense, and there was no evidence that we could counter it with."

Drodsky declined to label it as a "stand-your-ground" defense, calling it "more of a straight-up self-defense type of an issue" because Mary Kay Spradlin Hill was in her home.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or swang@tampabay.com.

At year's end, no arrests in 2 Tarpon Springs homicide cases 12/28/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:51pm]
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