Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater police: Murder/suicide leaves two dead in Countryside home

CLEARWATER — If you visited the Pier 60 sunset celebration at Clearwater Beach over the past decade and walked past the tables of tchotchkes sold by vendors, you probably walked past Robert Polukoff.

The Clearwater man sold handmade jewelry, which he guaranteed for life. He was a self-titled "Lapidary Genius Extraordinaire and Master Craftsman … the Coolest Human To Do Business With," according to the business cards he gave customers.

At night he returned to his home in the upscale Countryside area of Clearwater, where he lived with his wife, Irene, a state correctional probation officer who worked at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center, and their two sons.

Neighbors knew the couple were going through a divorce. They knew the police had been called to the house several times recently. But no one suspected what happened Monday morning.

At 6:44 a.m., one of the Polukoffs' adult sons called Clearwater police after finding their bodies in the garage of their home at 2532 Sweetgum Way W. Police say Robert Polukoff, 48, shot Irene, 49, several times, and then shot himself.

The couple had continued to live in the same home during their divorce proceedings, which started in July. Robert Polukoff was scheduled for a deposition in the case at 2 p.m. today.

"They were good neighbors. Quiet," said neighbor Bill Schwob, 85, who has lived on Sweetgum Way W for 31 years. Schwob said he felt bad for the Polukoffs' two college-age sons.

Police had been called to the house five times since last August, according to Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Beth Watts, including two calls on Feb. 22 for an argument between the couple over money. There had been no history of physical violence between the Polukoffs, though, Watts said.

Money was a central issue in the divorce case. In court filings, Irene Polukoff said her husband hid information from her and refused to put her name on any property they bought — apparent fallout from watching his father go through a contentious divorce. She also said Robert spent four nights per week gambling at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.

When listing the couple's assets in court filings, Irene Polukoff put her husband's gambling winnings as "unknown." Robert Polukoff won $50,000 at a blackjack tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in December, according to the casino.

Robert Polukoff also inherited a large sum in early 2010 from his father, said Jean Hagan, manager of Sunsets at Pier 60, the public-private partnership that contracts with vendors who sell their wares at the beach sunset celebration. The father, Leonard Polukoff, died in a January 2010 fire in his On Top of the World condominium in Clearwater. Hagan thinks the inheritance is the reason Robert Polukoff stopped selling his jewelry; he hadn't been out on the pier since last summer.

In July, a few weeks after Irene Polukoff filed for divorce, Robert filed a handwritten response with the court, before he hired an attorney. He wrote in legalese, writing "affirm" next to items in Irene's petition he agreed to, and "denied" next to things he disagreed with.

One of the few things Robert disagreed with was the status of the marriage. Irene's lawyer had written: "The marriage … is irretrievably broken."

Times staff photographer Jim Damaske and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or

Clearwater police: Murder/suicide leaves two dead in Countryside home 04/02/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 12:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea


    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  2. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]
  3. How should St. Pete make up for dumping all that sewage? How about a street sweeper?


    Every crisis has a silver lining.

    In the case of St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis, which spawned state and federal investigations and delivered a state consent decree ordering the city to fix a dilapidated sewer system, the upside is figuring out how to satisfy the $810,000 civil penalty levied by the Florida …

    City Council chairwoman Darden Rice said it was important to chose carefully because residents will be paying attention.
  4. A boy and a girl stare at the camera from their house after Hurrciane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Prss]
  5. Tampa poll rates streets, flooding, police-community relations and transportation as top public priorities


    A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.

    Survey results