Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Detectives follow clues to find suspect in woman's slaying in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Wherever Thomas Hampton Frederick went for the last week and a half, the detectives were not far behind. They watched him go to work. They watched him as he slept. They watched him when he went out at night.

They waited patiently for Frederick to give them something. Last week, he gave them a cigarette.

The smoldering butt he flicked from the passenger window of a car at the intersection of Belcher and Ulmerton roads gave forensic technicians a sample of his DNA. They sent it for testing.

On Wednesday, authorities said, test results confirmed what they suspected: Frederick was the man who raped and killed Adrianne Robert in her Clearwater apartment.

Frederick, 23, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on charges of first-degree murder and grand theft auto in connection with Robert's July 14 death. The two did not know each other before the crime, making the case particularly alarming.

"We got a real bad guy off the street," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a news conference announcing the arrest. "This is the most dangerous kind of crime, because he was willing to take somebody he didn't know and rape and kill her."

Authorities had released few details regarding the investigation of the 29-year-old graphic designer's death before Wednesday, even declining to say whether the case appeared to be a homicide. The decision was a strategic one, Gualtieri said. They didn't want Frederick to know what they knew.

"We were very concerned," Gualtieri said. "This was the No. 1 priority for the Sheriff's Office since July 14."

It all began the night before.

Robert and her male roommate, Jay Leffue, had gone to Diamond Dolls, a strip club about a mile from their apartment at 2958 Pinecone Circle.

When they arrived at the club, they struck up a conversation with Frederick, who had been lingering in the bar area since late afternoon, the sheriff said.

Robert left about 1:30 a.m. and planned to walk home. Leffue stayed behind at the club.

A surveillance camera captured images of Robert leaving the club alone before a man ran up to give her a black shawl she left on a chair, Gualtieri said. The two then walked off together.

Leffue returned to the apartment about two hours later and noticed the bathroom door was closed. He called out for Robert and got no answer.

When he opened the door, he saw her on the floor, clad only in a bra, a single stab wound to her chest.

There were signs of a struggle, Gualtieri said. She had bruises on her body and the toilet seat was broken.

When deputies searched the apartment, they found that a section of a sheet on Robert's bed had been cut out, Gualtieri said. Detectives suspected the killer had tried to remove his DNA from the scene.

But they located DNA on Robert's body and on a mattress.

Robert's orange Jeep also was missing. It was later recovered near East Bay Drive and U.S. 19.

Detectives initially had no idea of the identity of the man with whom Robert left.

"This was a hard one," Gualtieri said. "This very easily could have been a whodunit."

The first break in the case came when detectives learned that the man seen with Robert had arrived at Diamond Dolls earlier in the day in a taxi. The cab company gave detectives the phone number from which the man had called.

The same number was found in a Sheriff's Office database as belonging to Frederick. The number had been entered into the database after a Clearwater police officer had questioned Frederick when he spotted him walking alone in the early morning of June 11, Gualtieri said. The officer got his cell phone number.

Once detectives identified Frederick, they placed him under constant surveillance. He was arrested Wednesday at Hit Promotion Products, a Largo company where he worked.

In interviews with detectives, Frederick "made admissions," Gualtieri said. He also told detectives where they could find the murder weapon and Robert's car keys. A search for those items was ongoing Wednesday evening, Gualtieri said.

Frederick has no prior criminal history in Florida. Sheriff's officials described him as a transient whose last known address was in New York.

News of the arrest was welcomed by Robert's parents, Mark and Lori Robert of Greene, Maine.

"Today is their 25th wedding anniversary," said Cindy Boisvert, Adrianne Robert's aunt. "I think my brother said this is the best gift they could have received."

Robert had moved from Maine to Florida in 2007 and had attended the University of South Florida, her family said. She had planned to move out of the apartment she shared with Leffue and move in with her boyfriend.

Her family is planning a celebration for Saturday to honor her life.

"They're doing as good as can be expected," Robert's uncle, Ron Boisvert, said of the family. "I don't think it will fully hit home until the service has been completed."

Reach Dan Sullivan at (727) 893-8321 or

Detectives follow clues to find suspect in woman's slaying in Clearwater 07/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    Music & Concerts

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  2. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  3. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
  4. Gregg Allman, iconic Southern rocker from Florida's Allman Brothers Band, dies at 69


    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

  5. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Virginia special agent


    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death.

    This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows law enforcement investigating the scene of a shooting early Saturday in Richmond, Va.   Special Agent Michael T. Walter, a Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death. Virginia State Police said in an emailed statement that Travis A. Ball of Richmond is being held without bond on charges that include malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Virginia State Police via AP)