Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deputies take estranged husband into custody in Land O'Lakes woman's death

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco sheriff's deputies have taken into custody a former Tampa International Airport police officer in connection with the killing of his estranged wife, whose body was found in the back yard of the couple's quiet, lakefront home Wednesday morning.

Theodore Charles Diller, known to friends as Ted, is under involuntary mental health observation under the state's Baker Act, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said. Diller, 67, is not under arrest, Doll said, but is considered the "sole suspect" in the death of Rhonda Sue "Nikki" Diller, 58.

Authorities would not say how Mrs. Diller was killed.

Doll said the family dynamics at 5439 Julia Lane were "well known" to neighbors.

"We knew it was going to happen," said Lily Lopresto, who lives close to the property. "We knew it."

Lopresto said the Dillers had been separated for years but still lived on the same quiet, wooded property. They slept in separate buildings and, according to neighbors, tried to avoid each other. Mrs. Diller told neighbors she only left the house at night. She was thin and shook. She was always nervous.

"What are you still doing here?" Lopresto said she asked Mrs. Diller many times. She said her friend said she didn't want to forfeit their property and money. "It's mine," Lopresto recalled Mrs. Diller saying. "Why should I have to move?"

Lopresto said she had known the couple for several years. She could not remember a time when they were happy, even before the divorce proceedings began. According to Pasco court documents, the Dillers filed for divorce in 2008, but the case was dismissed voluntarily. They filed again in 2010, and the case remains open.

A brother of Ted Diller, seen leaving the Julia Lane property Wednesday afternoon, declined to speak to the Tampa Bay Times.

Lopresto and another neighbor, Debbie Green, said Mrs. Diller fought with her husband. They remembered a time when she smashed all the glass in a greenhouse that her husband built for her on their property.

"They both battled," Green said. "There is no doubt about it."

Lopresto said Mrs. Diller was fixated on a rumor that her husband buried $160,000 in cash to keep the money from her.

"She searched for it," Lopresto said.

Lopresto and Green said Mrs. Diller made money selling antiques. Records state that Ted Diller worked as a police officer for Tampa International Airport from 1974 to 2000. The couple owned Sundial Clocks N' Tiques in Land O'Lakes, but the business is now inactive, according to the Florida Division of Corporations.

Neighbors said Ted Diller closed the clock and antique store. They leased property to American Balloons at 4906 Land O'Lakes Blvd.

Green couldn't understand why, if the divorce was so bitter, one of them didn't leave.

"They should not have been on the same piece of property," Green said. "They shouldn't have been in the same town."

Neighbors heard two gunshots about 9 a.m., but gunfire from hunters is frequently heard in this wooded area. Lopresto said the Dillers' maintenance worker stopped by the property just after 11 a.m. and found Mrs. Diller's body in the back yard, steps from her car, and found Ted Diller in the house in some physical distress. The worker called 911. Lopresto heard sirens and went to the house to find out what happened. She said she saw Mrs. Diller's body.

"We all knew this was coming," Lopresto said she told the worker.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6229.

Deputies take estranged husband into custody in Land O'Lakes woman's death 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 3:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manhattan Casino controversy resumes after taking a break for Irma

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration has once again found itself defending its controversial choice of the Callaloo Group to open a "Floribbean" restaurant in the historic but currently empty Manhattan Casino.

  2. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Carlton: The cross atop the church that moved, and other strange tales from Hurricane Irma

    Hurricanes

    Down in Miami, the famous tan-don't-burn Coppertone Girl on the side of a building lost her head — part of it, at least, the top of her blond hair lopped off in the fierce winds of Hurricane Irma. ("At least her tan line and doggie weathered the storm," the Miami Herald noted optimistically.)

    Hurricane Irma partly decapitated the Coppertone Girl in Miami. [Miami Herald]
  4. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]