Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg boy's brutal slaying agonizes relatives

Dorothy Whipple remembers the first time she met Tasha Trotter.

Trotter was visiting her daughter, now 3. The child had been living with Whipple's family in Naples after the mother lost custody.

Mother and child were riding together in the back of a car, Whipple recalled.

The child would not stop screaming until the two of them were separated.

The incident recalls the troubled history of a woman who on Friday, authorities say, walked into her mother's St. Petersburg home and fatally stabbed her 4-year-old son, Joseph Artis IV.

Relatives on both sides are struggling to understand what drove Trotter, who has a history of mental illness, to commit such an astoundingly brutal crime.

"Nobody could have stopped her?" Whipple asked Monday. "They didn't protect their baby, and look where he's at now."

The boy had been living with his grandmother, Carolyn Trotter, since his mother lost custody in 2011.

That arrangement came after two years of upheaval documented by the Department of Children and Families and Pinellas County courts, including a domestic violence injunction filed against the boy's father, Joseph Artis III, when the son was 9 months old. That injunction was later dismissed.

Joseph Artis III's record with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement includes arrests for robbery, aggravated battery and grand theft.

Trotter's family said the woman suffers from various mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Whipple said Trotter and Artis III met in a Boley Centers facility for people with mental disabilities.

They had two children. The youngest, Kristian, 3, was in foster care for a time and now lives with Whipple's sister Gwendolyn Rose in Naples.

Whipple now wishes she had somehow assumed custody of the young boy.

"We just hate that we didn't make that decision to go ahead and keep him, but we thought we were doing the right thing by leaving him with the grandmother," Whipple said.

Whipple remembers that Joseph loved his mother. When Whipple spoke to him over the phone, he was happy, she said.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

St. Petersburg boy's brutal slaying agonizes relatives 03/31/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)