Sunday, February 18, 2018
Public safety

Sheriff's Office identifies pair in High Point deaths

LARGO — The call was extraordinary even for dispatchers. Justin Sean Tucker phoned 911 to report he had just stabbed his mother to death.

Then he hung up.

Moments later, just after noon on Friday, three deputies swarmed the two-story home at 2917 Pine Cone Circle in the High Point area. Cpl. Pete Doyle approached the front door and announced he was with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

"When that happened, all the deputies started hearing loud yelling and screaming from somebody that was on top of the staircase," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. "It was all incoherent, just ranting … he was just totally out of control."

Tucker, 36, charged down the staircase and outside the front door toward Doyle with a "dark object" in his hand, Gualtieri said. Doyle ordered him to stop several times. When he continued advancing toward him, Doyle fired multiple rounds, killing Tucker, Gualtieri said.

Deputies found his mother, Kathryn Marie Clark, 67, stabbed to death inside the home. Investigators found a butcher knife near her body, Gualtieri said.

Tucker's motive in killing Clark remained unknown Friday, but court records reveal he has lashed out at his mother in the past.

In March 1998, Clark filed a domestic violence injunction against her son after he arrived at her house drunk and asked her and her then-boyfriend, Richard Clark, several times for money. When they refused to give him cash, Tucker began slamming the furniture into the walls. Richard Clark and Tucker scuffled on the staircase.

"I tried to intervene," Kathryn Clark wrote in the injunction. "The three of us almost went over the railing."

She also noted that she had previously kicked Tucker out, and that he often exhibited "irrational behavior" that included yelling threats of physical abuse at her and breaking into the house, according to the injunction.

But Clark later withdrew the injunction, citing that her son, who had drug problems, was now "employed, productive, and respectful."

"He, some months ago, did a week in the hospital due to his drug indulgence, which brought the reality 'front and center' of what he was doing to himself," she wrote. "He is no longer drugging. I now envision good things for him."

But state records show Tucker was arrested several times after 1998 on charges of cocaine, heroin and drug paraphernalia possession. He was most recently arrested on a DUI charge in May 2013.

The Sheriff's Office didn't say Friday what object Tucker was holding as he charged at Doyle.

Neighbors near the townhome Friday said they heard five gunshots.

"It was just a steady stream of them," said Michael Caldwell, 36, who lives across the street.

According to neighbors, Kathryn Clark was a retired nurse who lived at the townhome with Richard Clark, whom she married in 2001, as well as her son and two cats. She bought the home at the Eastwood Pines Townhomes subdivision in 1997, property records show.

Her family could not be reached for comment Friday.

"A great person. Did anything for anybody," said another neighbor, Jean Cunningham, 83. "It's hard to believe. She is going to be missed, that's for sure, because we talked a lot."

Caldwell said he had spoken with Tucker, who always appeared calm, on several occasions near the subdivision's pool.

"This is insane," he said. "It's kind of hitting me now."

Donna Mason, 68, said she never met Tucker, but became friends with Clark a few weeks ago when she picked up a painting of a seascape that Clark was giving away.

"Great lady," Mason said. "Very nice people."

On Friday afternoon, she walked over to Clark's house to chat. Then she noticed the crime scene tape across the entrance.

Times staff writer Mike Brassfield, as well as Times staff researchers Carolyn Edds and Natalie A. Watson, contributed to this report. Laura C. Morel can be reached at [email protected] or (727)445-4157. Follow her on Twitter @lauracmorel.

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