Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

911 call released for body buried in Spring Hill yard

SPRING HILL — "My brother killed my brother,'' a sobbing woman tells a 911 dispatcher. "And he's in the f---ing back yard, in the dirt.''

The seven-minute call to the Hernando County's Sheriff's Office on Monday from the sister of Sean and Stanley Eckard was the first indication authorities had of an unfolding family tragedy at 8456 Peoria St.

Deputies arrested 21-year-old Stanley Elias Eckard on Monday night on a charge of second-degree murder. He is accused of strangling his 19-year-old brother Sean and burying the body in a shallow grave in the family's back yard.

The woman on the phone, whose identity is protected by Florida public records law, said her father was still digging into the dirt.

"He is digging him out of the ground," she said in a cracking voice. "Oh my God. He's screaming. He's over the body."

The dispatcher frequently begged her to slow down. The woman spoke several times to people in the background.

"No, don't call the police!" a male voice shouted in the background.

"You can't scare me," the sister, who does not live at the Peoria Street house, replied. "They're already on the way."

She told the dispatcher to send deputies quickly because Stanley Eckard was still talking to her mother inside the house.

"My brother's here, and if he sees us digging up the body he's going to f---ing kill us all."

• • •

According to Hernando County Sheriff's Office records, Stanley Elias Eckard admitted Monday to strangling his brother Sean.

The arrest affidavit states he planned to move the body when his parents went out of town in a few weeks. Authorities have not released information about what motivated the killing.

Deputies booked Eckard into the Hernando County Jail at 10:30 p.m. Monday, where he is being held without bail.

Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent said the mother, Donna Eckard, saw Stanley digging a hole in the yard at 3 a.m. Saturday. When she asked him what he was doing, he said he was burying his ex-girlfriend's clothes because he was tired of seeing them, Nugent said.

But then Sean Eckard didn't come home.

"The last time anybody saw him was Friday night," the sister said in the 911 call. "I said, 'Mom, we need to dig up that hole. What's in that hole?' "

Samuel Eckard went out back, the Sheriff's Office said, and dug into the hole, where he first uncovered his son's arms and legs. The remains were not dismembered, said Sgt. Donna Black.

Deputies exhumed the body Tuesday. They waited a day so they would have enough daylight to dig up the body and collect evidence. The autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Friends and relatives set up a small memorial outside the yellow crime scene tape Tuesday, including a dozen red roses and a neon-green poster that read: "Our Angel."

Another poster said: "Sean Eckard was our everything" and listed qualities he would be remembered by. It said Eckard was an animal lover who wanted to be a therapist and help patients in rehabilitation.

"He had many friends that adore him," the poster said. "He will be missed."

Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino, the county's chief homicide prosecutor, said he planned to review the evidence to see whether the case merits a charge of first-degree murder. A charge of second-degree murder indicates the crime was neither premeditated nor occurred during the course of another felony.

A grand jury will determine charges within the next month.

Stanley Eckard could face the death penalty if charged with first-degree murder. A charge of second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In 2007, Stanley Eckard was arrested on a felony fraud-related charge, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.

Both brothers dropped out of F.W. Springstead High School, said family friend Christian Quinones.

School records show Stanley Eckard was enrolled from August 2005 to May 2006. Sean Eckard was enrolled from August 2005 to September 2007.

In February, Sean enrolled in the district's adult education program.

Samuel and Donna Eckard both work at Grace Presbyterian Church. Samuel is a custodian, and Donna works in the nursery.

Earlier in his life, a severe brain condition left Sean Eckard in a coma, said Quinones, 18. Eckard recovered late last year, Quinones said, though he'd lost weight.

Sean briefly worked a maintenance job with Quinones at Texas Roadhouse in Brooksville but had to stop because he often fell ill.

The Eckard's home number has been disconnected, and relatives declined to comment.

Staff writers Tony Marrero and Joel Anderson contributed to this report.

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or [email protected]

911 call released for body buried in Spring Hill yard 06/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 2:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'


    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day


    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event


    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking


    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.