Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Authorities identify 'key players' in Lutz triple slaying

LUTZ — Lisa Freiberg's mom worried after she heard nothing on Mother's Day.

She broke into her daughter's locked mobile home Monday morning to find her daughter and two grandchildren, Heather Savannah, 2, and Zachary, 7, and the family's dog dead, mutilated and dismembered.

One person was decapitated.

Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee released this information about the gruesome slayings on Tuesday afternoon.

No one has been charged, and officials have not mentioned a motive, but Gee said all the "players'' have been identified and investigators are confident no killer remains on the loose.

Deputies found Freiberg's live-in boyfriend under a pile of clothes in a closet at the home. He told them he had ingested something and remains under guard at University Community Hospital, Gee said.

Gee said the killer used more than one weapon, and the slayings occurred early Sunday.

Freiberg shared the mobile home at 1918 Mobile Villa Drive S with her boyfriend, Edward Covington, according to his father, Ronnie Covington, a Hillsborough sheriff's detention deputy at Falkenburg Road Jail.

Edward Covington, 35, told his probation officer about his relationship with the young mom. His father said the couple met online.

Covington was serving one year's probation for drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance, according to the state records.

He also was previously hospitalized under the provisions of the state Baker Act after officers found him in his kitchen with three dead, mutilated cats.

Before his DUI conviction, Covington had worked as a state prison corrections officer for a decade and interned at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in 1999, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter.

In his time as a corrections officer, he received a 15-day suspension for using unnecessary force on an inmate and another suspension for failing to comply with handcuff procedures.

Covington left his job with the prison system in January 2006. Since then, he has been arrested three times, most recently in December on a worthless check charge, state records show.

In February, he told his probation officer, Stephanie Phelps, that he needed to stay overnight with Freiberg, his girlfriend, to get a ride to work. At the time, he was living in a trailer.

Covington moved in with the family in April. He was unemployed and had been laid off from his job because he missed work and was slow, according to his probation file.

Just two days before the bodies were discovered, a probation officer inspected the home. Freiberg was making lunch for the kids in the messy home. Covington told the officer his girlfriend was a "pack rat and they were working on cleaning the house."

The report ends with this observation: "No problem or concerns noted at present time."

On Monday afternoon, Covington's father told the Times his son was an "ordinary person."

A Tampa police report, however, outlines accusations that he mutilated and killed three cats, smashing one's skull.

In January 2005, Tampa police went to his home after receiving a worried call from his father.

Officers found Edward Covington on the living room floor. "I don't want to die like this," he told them, crying, a police report said. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital under the Baker Act.

In his kitchen, police wrote, they found three dead cats that "appeared to be mutilated.'' He was never prosecuted. Prosecutors would not comment, and Covington's family declined to discuss the incident.

In the report, Ronnie Covington told police his son was manic depressive and bipolar.

Freiberg's parents, who live near the mobile home, also have declined to speak with reporters.

Friends and neighbors say she was close to her parents, who visited often to help with yard work and to play with their grandchildren.

Freiberg doted on children and animals. She brought home dogs, cats, rabbits and even frogs. And she loved her horse, Skyler, building her own horse stall in the back of the house.

She helped organize neighborhood barbecues, hauling in bounce houses and ball pits, supplied through her parents' party rental business.

The family was popular at Learning Gate Community School in Lutz, where Zachary was a first-grader.

"They were good people," said Lisa Arias, Zachary's teacher. "His mother worked so hard, and his grandmother loved him so much."

Freiberg volunteered in the lunchroom and organic garden.

The family wasn't wealthy, yet Zachary repeatedly brought in coins for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life drive.

"I have it in a bucket," Arias said. "None of the other children did that."

On Tuesday morning, after finding their daughter and grandchildren brutally killed, Freiberg's parents were concerned for the school.

"They were here this morning, at five after 7," said principal Patti Girard. "They wanted to make sure we had heard about it."

Times staff writers Dong-Phuong Nguyen and Bill Coats and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at [email protected] or 813-226-3373.

Authorities identify 'key players' in Lutz triple slaying 05/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2008 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Buckhorn, Kriseman team up in Tampa Bay pitch to Amazon

    Economic Development

    Across the United States, cities and metro areas are in a frenzied bidding war to convince Amazon their regions are the best fit for its new headquarters, HQ2.

    The Tampa Bay area is no exception. …

    The first  video, rolled out on Oct. 19, 2017, features Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman welcoming Amazon and talking about why Tampa Bay would be a perfect fit for the second Amazon headquarters.
  2. Dirk Koetter sounds Bucs alarm: 'They're the players that we have'


    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) takes the field for the start of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
  3. Police seek public's help as they investigate third death in Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police are seeking the public's help in their investigation of three suspicious deaths in southeast Seminole Heights during the past two weeks.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  4. Listen: Soldier's widow shares her call with Trump


    Natasha De Alencar had just returned home on April 12 after making T-shirts and pillowcases in her husband's memory when the Army casualty assistance officer told her there was someone on the phone for her. It was President Donald Trump.

    Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed during a firefight with Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan on April 8, 2017. His widow, Natasha De Alencar has shared the condolence call she had with President Donald Trump on April 12. [Image from video via Washington Post]
  5. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations


    TAMPA — His voice, a perpetually scratchy bellow, betrays conviction. USF coach Charlie Strong has been asked if he believes he has the 16th-best team in America. Hesitation doesn't precede his response. Resolution fuels it.

    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)