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Body found in Tierra Verde canal leads to another body in Snell Isle home

St. Petersburg police investigators gather at 1927 Brightwaters Blvd. NE where a body was found Friday. Investigators suspect a connection between this death and one at Tierra Verde.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

St. Petersburg police investigators gather at 1927 Brightwaters Blvd. NE where a body was found Friday. Investigators suspect a connection between this death and one at Tierra Verde.

ST. PETERSBURG — Investigators late Friday were trying to solve a mystery surrounding two bodies that were discovered seven hours and 15 miles apart — one in a Tierra Verde canal, the other in a $1.5 million waterfront home on Snell Isle.

Officials said the deaths — a man and woman — are likely linked and could be a murder-suicide.

The first body — the man — was found about 12:30 p.m. floating fully clothed in a canal in the 1100 block of Second Avenue S in Tierra Verde.

Pinellas sheriff's deputies saw the man had a gunshot wound. A neighbor reported hearing two gunshots the night before — followed by the sound of a boat motor. Detectives thought they had a murder on their hands.

Authorities later identified the dead man as William Brown Wood Jr., 53. They would come to learn Wood actually had taken his own life.

While investigating, sheriff's officials learned Wood had been living with his girlfriend in a home near where the body was found. His car also was parked there.

At some point, someone told investigators that they should check on a woman who lived at 1927 Brightwaters Blvd. NE on Snell Isle.

About 7:20 p.m., police arrived at the 3,800-square-foot home. Inside, they found the body of a woman in her 50s.

Property records list the owner of the home as Donna Wood, 54.

Court records show that William and Donna Wood have filed for divorce four times since 1997. They each have been the plaintiff twice, records show. Their last divorce was filed in 2004, and it was unclear late Friday whether it went through.

Donna Wood also has sought domestic violence injunctions against William Wood three times: in 2002, 2005 and 2007, records show. The first two of those cases involved children.

Records show William Wood has been arrested three times in Pinellas County: in 2000 for criminal mischief, in 2004 for domestic battery and in 2007 on another charge of criminal mischief. All three charges were dropped.

Late Friday night, police declined to say how the woman in the home died. Vehicles from the Medical Examiner's Office arrived at the home — which has a large archway in front and a horeshoe-shaped driveway — after 10 p.m.

William Wood's body was found by Herb Eng, a retired New York police officer.

He and his wife, Patricianne, are used to finding things in the canal behind their house.

The home at 1105 Second Ave. S, which the couple built in 1990, is nestled in the corner of a peaceful neighborhood. Objects often wash up to their dock — from dead dogs and pelicans to boat equipment and brand new kayaks.

Herb Eng saw the body Friday as he went to get his boat ready for a fishing trip.

"I looked down and I saw feet sticking out," said Eng, 65. "I said, 'Boy, this doesn't look good.'"

When Eng looked further, he saw ankles and the back of a face-down body. He went inside and told his wife and called authorities.

The incident seemed out of place for the neighborhood, which remained peaceful even as detectives shuffled back and forth from the scene. Several passing joggers and motorists were clueless about what was going on.

The incident reminded Patricianne Eng about another oddity from the night before.

The 62-year-old said she heard two gunshots and what sounded like a powerboat motor around 2 a.m. The couple was in bed and it was hard to distinguish from where the shots came, but the woman said it sounded "close."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Body found in Tierra Verde canal leads to another body in Snell Isle home 05/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 25, 2009 5:44pm]
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