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As husband surrendered to Plant City police, family discovered dying mother

PLANT CITY — While Lawrence Dickey gave himself over to authorities Sunday, a newly released 911 recording revealed other family members were left to discover his wife, Beatrice Dickey, unconscious and bleeding in their Plant City home.

"I don't know who was in my house," a young man, his voice frantic, told a dispatcher. "Someone came into my house and (redacted) on the head with a baseball bat and they left.

"Can you please hurry, please hurry!"

The 911 call came from inside the Paddock Drive house where police say Lawrence Dickey used an aluminum baseball bat to beat his wife to death, the top civilian in the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

The recording released Tuesday censored names and relationships, but in a moment of the nearly seven-minute conversation, the young caller can be heard saying this:

"Mom, can you talk?"

Just after midnight Sunday, Lawrence and Beatrice Dickey returned home from a concert.

On a couch near the couple's bedroom, a son slept. The Dickeys, married in 2007, each brought two children from previous relationships into the family.

Police say 44-year-old Lawrence Dickey woke the son, hugged him and said, "I love you." The son told police he heard Lawrence Dickey drop an aluminum baseball bat. Then, he heard three thumps.

Lawrence Dickey drove to the Plant City police station, where police say he told the officer at the gate, "Lock me up. I just beat my wife with a bat. She is hurt real bad."

Police logged Dickey's statement at 12:52 a.m. Four minutes earlier, the communications center had taken a 911 call. With a girl screaming in the background, the caller sobbed and screeched for help. Beatrice Dickey was unconscious but breathing.

"Do you know who it was?" the dispatcher asked about the attacker.

"I don't know," the caller replied, then asked the girl in the background: "Was it (redacted)?"

The girl shouted, "He just drove off!"

Beatrice Dickey was "bleeding all over the place," the caller reported, mostly from a forehead gash. As the caller and the girl repeated that they didn't know what happened, the young man whimpered, "Who did that?"

•••

Beatrice Dickey, 44, was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where she died. In the days since her death, her family has declined to comment.

At the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Beatrice Dickey held the title of executive officer of business affairs: the top civilian and third overall on the executive chain, behind the sheriff and chief of staff.

"We always say she broke the glass ceiling here," said friend and sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Eleazer.

Beatrice Dickey's office sported photos of her children and trinkets of bees; her nickname was "Bea." Though accomplished at work, she put family first. Her two sons, one in college and the other in high school, played football, basketball and baseball. She tried to make it to every game.

Beatrice Dickey had survived breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy and the disease was in remission, Eleazer said.

"We all saw her as this dynamic, successful, confident woman that could do so many things," Eleazer said. "But she would call herself 'soccer mom' all the time — 'I'm just a soccer mom.' But she was so much more than that."

On Sunday, the Sheriff's Office had to call nearly all its 1,800 employees, Eleazer said. Everybody knew Bea.

•••

Shortly after Lawrence Dickey turned himself in to police, he invoked his rights. He was charged with first-degree murder and denied bail, remaining in Hillsborough County Jail.

Jail records don't list an attorney for him, and his family could not be reached for comment.

Police say they have yet to identify a motive. Authorities and friends have said they were unaware of any history of domestic violence between the couple.

"Quite frankly, we were all surprised," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

By the family's accounts, he said the house was peaceful when the couple returned from a Journey concert: "There was no arguing, no fighting, nothing to arise the suspicion, nothing at all."

Times researcher John Martin and staff writers Jessica Vander Velde and Danny Valentine contributed to this report. Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Services for Beatrice Dickey

A visitation for Beatrice Dickey will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Gentry-Morrison Funeral Homes' Southside Chapel, 1727 Bartow Road in Lakeland. In coordination with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, funeral services will take place 11 a.m. Thursday at Resurrection Catholic Church, 3720 Old Highway 37 in Lakeland, followed by a burial at Oakhill Cemetery.

As husband surrendered to Plant City police, family discovered dying mother 09/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 12:59am]
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