HUDSON — A father and son went into the woods near Old Dixie Highway on July 17, 2005, to hunt with a bow and arrow. Near an area known for people dumping unwanted things, they spotted a rolled up blue carpet with what seemed to be a leg jutting out. Flies swarmed.
The man inside had been dead for two days. He was tall and thin, balding with long gray hair. He wore jeans and a white T-shirt. He had no scars, marks or tattoos. Several teeth were missing and others were rotten.
He had been shot in the back of the head.
It took authorities a few days to identify him. His name was Jeffrey Fix, a 48-year-old transient from Michigan who was convicted three times for indecent exposure, as well as shoplifting and grant theft.
Stories at the time said Fix hadn't had contact with his family for many years before his death.
Fix had been living in a 720-square-foot mobile home at 6633 Candice Lane in New Port Richey. His roommate was James C. Reynolds, who is now 61.
When detectives went into the home with a search warrant two weeks after Fix's death, they discovered blue fibers similar to the carpet the body had been wrapped in, blood in a washtub, on the floor and on the walls of the kitchen and dining room, according to court records.
Blood had soaked into the plywood floor, but someone had recently painted over it. A paint can and rollers sat nearby.
When they came back to the house in late August 2005, they found what appeared to be blood spatter inside the back hatch of Reynold's wood-paneled 1990 Plymouth minivan, which was parked in front of the home, according to court records. There also was a drill bit holder inside with an empty slot. A drill bit had been found with the body wrapped in the carpet.
At the time, Reynolds told detectives he knew nothing about blood being in his home.
And then four years passed.
On Thursday, Reynolds confessed to murdering Fix, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
It is not known why, after all this time, Reynolds confessed. He declined an interview with the Times.
Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said detectives have continued working the homicide investigation and kept talking with Reynolds. He wouldn't comment on why there was no arrest earlier.
"He's been a suspect from the beginning," Doll said.
According to his arrest report, Reynolds' version of events went like this:
He came home and Fix was there, saying their mobile home was "his house" and had Reynolds' gun in his hand. He waved it around.
Reynolds said he was upset because Fix wasn't paying his rent and didn't help out with chores. Reynolds said he used his "prior military training" to disarm Fix.
He made him get on his knees.
Then Reynolds stood behind him and shot him in the head.
Doll did not say what Reynolds' prior military training was.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Reynolds' only other arrest in Florida was for driving under the influence in Brooksville in 2000.
Reynolds is charged with first degree murder. As of Friday, he was being held without bail at the Land O'Lakes jail.
Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.