Friends: Victim in Pasco execution-style slaying was kind, laid-back

Published January 24 2018
Updated January 24 2018

HOLIDAY — AJ Smith inched down the quiet street in his pick-up truck, staring at the home of his friend Edward Lee Tudor. He thought seeing it again Wednesday could help him deal with the events of the last 24 hours.

"It’s still unbelievable," he said, tears welling in his eyes.

Tudor, 37, was executed in his own front yard the day before, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, by neighbor Qiu Feng Ke.

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The 60-year-old man planned Tuesday’s slaying in advance, deputies said. He had his will notarized beforehand, carefully chose which caliber handgun would inflict the most damage, then burst into Taylor’s home at 3519 Richboro Drive at about 12:20 p.m., according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Tudor was holding his chihuahua when deputies said Qiu shot him with a 9mm pistol. Tudor managed to make it outside, deputies said, and was on his knees, begging for his life when Qiu delivered the fatal gunshots.

"The defendant said he does not regret shooting the victim and has been planning on killing the victim for a long time," the arrest report said.

The only parts of the plan Qiu didn’t carry out, deputies said, was killing a woman named "Jen" whom he did not find at the house, then hanging himself. Deputies said there was a woman in the home at the time who was unharmed. They did not release her identity.

Nor would deputies elaborate on the dispute that so enraged Qiu, the one he told deputies he had to end lest "the victim would have laughed at him."

Neighbors were mystified, too, shocked to learn Wednesday there was any tension between them.

"I didn’t have a clue," said Randy Nelson, 69, who lives two doors down from Qiu’s house at 3527 Richboro Drive.

Tudor’s friends said they could never imagine him even seeking out an argument. They called him kind and laid back. A history of health problems, including cancer and open heart surgery, sometimes left him frail and weak.

"He would never try to get into a fight," said friend Bobby Stellfox, 48. "I would protect him. When we went out, I would look after him."

Stellfox met Tudor, whom friends called Lee, through a New Port Richey motorcycle shop called Modo Sports. Tudor was the head of the parts department. Stellfox said Tudor’s stepfather owned the small business.

The shop sponsored Stellfox, who was a road racer. He and his ex-wife, Cindy Stellfox, would ride their motorcycles around Tampa Bay with Tudor until they moved to California a decade ago.

"I just can’t imagine what Lee would have done to provoke him," Cindy Stellfox said, "because he is such a nice guy."

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Smith, 32, also met Tudor through the racing world, when Tudor worked for Vortex Racing, a parts manufacturer. The two became friends a few years after Tudor had moved to the area from Kentucky, where he studied business at the University of Kentucky.

Then Tudor moved on to another career: nursing. Florida Department of Health records show he was issued a registered nurse’s license in November. Neighbor Patricia Tipton said Tudor wanted to become a physician’s assistant — and deputies said he was studying when Qiu stormed his house.

"Lee was so smart," Smith said. "Just being around him — it was a treat."

Tudor wasn’t married and had no children, Smith said. He lived by himself after his roommates moved out.

Smith wasn’t aware of any fight between Tudor and Qiu, who also goes by Joe Ke. But Smith said he had his own run-in with Qiu a few years before. Smith arrived at Tudor’s house on his motorcycle through the backyard. When he got to the front, he said Qiu came at him with a rake. Tudor, in the garage, intervened and defused the situation.

"He wasn’t in a confrontational mindset, ever," Smith said.

Neighbors knew little about Qiu, who is facing a first-degree murder charge and is being held in the county jail without bail. In an interview with WFLA-Ch. 8 there, Qiu said Tudor had bullied him for two years and that Tudor and his former roommates kept him awake with loud noises.

Tipton said his relatives lived in China, where Qiu was born. He kept a fruit and vegetable garden in his backyard with bins to catch rain water.

"He was very in tune with Mother Nature," Tipton, 74, said. "I never dreamed he would do this."

She was home at the time and heard the gunshots ring out. It took just a few minutes for deputies to swarm the neighborhood.

By Wednesday afternoon, they were gone. The only sign left that their neighbor had lost his life was a line of yellow crime scene tape in his backyard.

Above Qiu’s front door was a security camera which deputies said captured the entire attack.

The camera was pointed toward Tudor’s yard.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at [email protected] Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

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