Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

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 [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.

Comments
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — A 17-year-old student looking forward to celebrating his family's new swimming pool and a substitute teacher whose home frequently hosted family gatherings were among the 10 people killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high sch...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18
Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

LARGO — Police are searching for a person of interest in the January disappearance of a 24-year-old man.The missing man is Timothy Patrick Cullen, 24, who Largo police said was last seen Jan. 22 at his home in the 500 block of Seventh Ave NE. His veh...
Published: 05/18/18
Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

BAYONET POINT — A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated child abuse and accused of fracturing an infant’s skull, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Brandon Scott Madrishin told deputies that a 3-month-old infant ...
Published: 05/18/18
20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

When her school bus pulled up to her house that day, Ashley Bell spotted her mom’s car in the driveway and wondered why it was there. A 14-year-old latchkey kid, Bell usually got home before her mother Carolyn arrived from her job as a nurse at St. J...
Published: 05/18/18
Teen held in Texas attack is said to have used father’s guns

Teen held in Texas attack is said to have used father’s guns

SANTA FE, Texas — The Texas student charged in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School posted an image on Facebook of himself wearing a "Born to Kill" shirt and used his father’s shotgun and pistol in the attack that left 10 dead and 10 wounded, ...
Published: 05/18/18