Cabdriver found slain in St. Petersburg is identified

ST. PETERSBURG — The cabdriver found slain near Azalea Middle School on Saturday morning has been identified as Linda Faison, 39, who police say was going through a divorce and might have been staying in a local motel.

Sunday night, St. Petersburg police investigators said Faison was divorcing Thomas Faison of Orlando, who has been notified of her death. The Police Department would give no further details at that time. Thomas Faison could not be reached.

The homicide was the latest of four recent attacks on cabdrivers in St. Petersburg, and the second fatality.

A neighbor discovered Faison's body while walking near the school at 7855 22nd Ave. N. Faison was on a one-lane road between the school and the Science Center of Pinellas County at 7701 22nd Ave. N.

Police got the call about 8 a.m. and later found Faison's abandoned cab in South Pasadena. They say she picked up a customer after 5 a.m. Saturday but provided no additional detail about that person.

Police spokesman Bill Proffitt would not say how the woman died, but he said a preliminary investigation does not show a link to recent cabdriver robberies. Yellow Cab officials also declined to comment Sunday.

Nationally, 46 cab drivers died on the job in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And nearly 70 percent of those fatalities were homicides.

Locally, in two incidents Thursday, cabdrivers dispatched to pick up customers had guns pointed at their heads and one was shot.

The first attack took place about 2:50 a.m., when William G. Kelly went to pick up a fare at 2535 Union St. S, police said. A juvenile in a dark blue T-shirt approached the passenger side of his Independent Cab, pointed a black handgun through the open window and demanded money.

When Kelly, 53, hit the gas, the gunman shot him in the right collarbone and a bullet pierced his throat, company president Joe Rosa said. His condition could not be determined Sunday night.

Thirty minutes later and nearly 4 miles away, Michael Solt, 56, was called to pick up a fair at 1826 18th Ave. N in St. Petersburg. He told police that when he got there a juvenile in a black long-sleeve shirt approached the driver's side window and put a gun to his head. Solt told police he thwarted the attack by driving away and flagging down a police car.

Nigeria-born Cyril Obinka was fatally shot in May. His cab veered out of a parking lot at the Palm View Apartment Complex at 5420 26th St. S in St. Petersburg and drove into a building.

Though he had been robbed on the job at least three times, Obinka continued to drive his cab so his wife could stay home with their first child.

In a 2004 case, the body of Eric J. Stanton, 26, was found in his cab in the parking lot of the Eckerd Drug store at 1605 Missouri Ave. S in Clearwater. The killer had stabbed Stanton, cut his throat, then set the car on fire.

Genghis Kocaker, 44, was convicted of first-degree murder a month ago and the jury has recommended the death penalty.

In the case of Linda Faison, police ask anyone who saw suspicious activity involving a Yellow Cab in the western part of St. Petersburg around the time of the crime Saturday to contact them at (727) 893-7780, or anonymously at (727) 892-5000.

Times Staff Writer Catherine Shoichet contributed to this report. Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Cabdriver found slain in St. Petersburg is identified 07/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:06pm]

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