Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Arrest made in death of woman found on Pinellas Trail

CLEARWATER — After a disagreement with her boyfriend, Lydia Ann Tross left their second-floor apartment on Highland Avenue and went for a walk.

She never returned.

Four days later, her body was discovered in a grassy ditch north of Fairmont Street near the Pinellas Trail, more than a mile from her home.

Detectives determined that Tross, 41, was killed by a stranger as she walked alone on the trail. Dewayne Xavier Jones, 18, faces a first-degree murder charge in connection to her slaying, police announced Tuesday.

The source of their tip: a member of Jones' family.

"We're thankful," said Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter during a news conference Tuesday, "that they did the right thing."

According to police, Tross wandered onto the Pinellas Trail sometime after dusk Aug. 5. That's when she encountered Jones, who lives less than a mile away in a house on Betty Lane.

Jones confronted Tross, snatched her purse, ripped her clothing off, and inflicted "sharp force injuries to her neck and throat," according to an arrest affidavit.

On Saturday, a man picking flowers near the trail with his grandson discovered her decomposing corpse and called police.

Detectives recalled Tross' boyfriend, Lawrence Staley, had reported her missing and identified her through the scattered belongings that remained in the ditch, Slaughter said.

On Sunday after police released her name, Jones' relative found her wallet, including Tross' I.D., inside his house. The relative, whom Slaughter did not identify Tuesday, called police.

During interviews with detectives on Sunday and Monday, Jones "made conflicting and incriminating statements," Slaughter said, declining to go into detail.

The medical examiner's office had not released Tross' cause of death Tuesday. Her family and boyfriend could not be reached for comment.

Tross' slaying is not an indication of an uptick in crime on the trail, Slaughter said.

"Crimes can happen anywhere," Slaughter said. "I think the trail is a safe environment and we're going to increase our (bike) patrols to make it even safer and to reassure people that it is safe."

In St. Petersburg, officials are moving forward with a plan to install cameras along stretches of the trail where a string of robberies occurred in southern parts of the city.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said discussions of installing cameras here have not emerged.

"We're obviously going to have to take a look at this," he said, noting the trail is a county park.

Jones has previous convictions, records show. He was found guilty on burglary and vehicle theft charges last year when he was 17. Last month, Pinellas deputies arrested him on charges of drug possession and resisting arrest without violence.

Jones was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he remained Tuesday without bail.

Times staff researcher Caryn Baird and Times staff writer Mike Brassfield contributed to this report. Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel.

Arrest made in death of woman found on Pinellas Trail 08/12/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead

    Crime

    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  2. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  3. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct'

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  4. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  5. World's plastic waste could bury Manhattan 2 miles deep

    Environment

    WASHINGTON — Industry has made more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and there's enough left over to bury Manhattan under more than 2 miles of trash, according to a new cradle-to-grave global study.

    Plastic trash is compacted into bales ready for further processing at the waste processing dump on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus.