Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Public safety

16-year-old charged in Clearwater slaying was angry after argument with parents

CLEARWATER — A 15-year-old boy enraged after an argument with his parents vented his fury by stabbing a stranger to death in January, police said Thursday.

"No robbery. No drugs," Clearwater police Chief Anthony Holloway said during a news conference. Mychal King "was upset, and he just decided that he was going to kill the first person he saw."

King, now 16, faces a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of 22-year-old Jason Paul near Crest Lake Park. Police will request that the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office charge him as an adult.

The night of Jan. 5, Paul was riding his bike to his duplex on Franklin Street after work when someone stabbed him multiple times in the 100 block of S Glenwood Avenue east of downtown. A driver passing by discovered his body.

Detectives had recently learned that King, a Clearwater resident, might have been involved in the stabbing. They conducted interviews. Someone turned in the military-style knife allegedly used to stab Paul.

On Wednesday, detectives interviewed King at the Pinellas County Jail, where he was being held on unrelated charges.

King confessed to killing Paul, Holloway said. He told detectives that on Jan. 5, he had argued with his parents and left his home with a knife in his hand. He spotted Paul as he turned left on his bike onto Glenwood Avenue. King confronted Paul and stabbed him, police said.

"This was a very senseless crime," Holloway said.

King has a lengthy criminal record and has been arrested this year on several charges, including aggravated battery, cocaine possession and vehicle theft. Because he is a juvenile, police would not disclose Thursday why he is currently in jail.

Renee Langfritz, Paul's mother, still remembers the morning officers told her she had lost her only son.

"My first thought was that somebody had hit him on his bicycle," she said. "I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that someone would have killed him."

The Clearwater woman saw her son for the last time on Christmas Day last year. She gave him a gift card to purchase lights for his bike.

After working two part-time jobs, Paul had been hired full time as a sales representative at TigerDirect. He wanted to be a veterinary technician. He lived with his 60-pound boxer mix, Marley. His girlfriend was going to move in soon.

"They were all excited," Langfritz said. "They were planning how they were going to decorate their yard for the summer."

Marley misses him, Langfritz said. The dog often lies on the floor next to the shelf displaying Paul's urn.

King's arrest brings some closure for her family, Langfritz said. But that a stranger without a motive killed her son, she said, "just makes it so much harder to swallow."

"We were always afraid that there was a chance that no one would ever be caught," she said. "Now that we have an answer, it doesn't make it any better."

Times staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

 
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