SEFFNER — Sunday evening, Karen Deas discovered her 24-year-old son Joshua Austin Deas and his 34-year-old roommate Kenneth Simmons dead in their mobile home.
The killer likely used an ax or a hatchet, authorities believe.
Tuesday evening, a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy called Deas to tell her authorities had arrested a suspect in the double murder: Charles Anthony Foster, 23, also of Seffner.
She knew the name.
"I knew him very well," she said late Tuesday, after the Sheriff's Office announced murder and robbery charges against Foster. "He was like a brother to my son. He was one of my son's best friends. I don't understand this, and a lot of people are not going to understand this."
Foster faces two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a weapon, the Sheriff's Office said. He tried to fraudulently cash a check from Simmons' checking account and withdraw money using Joshua Deas' debit card, the Sheriff's Office said. He was also caught on a surveillance video driving Simmons' green Isuzu Rodeo and pawning things that belonged to Joshua Deas after the killings.
Deputies arrested Foster about 11:20 p.m. Monday at his home on Lindenview Lane — not on the murder counts but rather on a charge of violating an earlier probation for providing false information to a metal recycler.
Homicide detectives executed a search warrant at his home about 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Sheriff's Office, and murder and robbery charges were added after consultation with the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.
Foster remained held without bail Tuesday night at the Hillsborough County Jail.
Jail records show Foster has been arrested three times before, including a 2010 arrest for dealing in stolen property and providing false information to a metal recycler.
Foster and Joshua Deas met about 10 years ago, Karen Deas said Tuesday, when they both were teenagers. They played basketball together and later lived together. When asked if Tuesday's news came as a surprise, Karen Deas said: "Yes and no. I suspected him."
It's still unclear just when Deas and Simmons were killed. Karen Deas started worrying Sunday morning when her son didn't return text messages and phone calls. She drove to the Walmart in Valrico where he worked, but he hadn't shown up for his shift that day. Then she drove to the mobile home on N Parsons Avenue, where she found the bodies.
Joshua Deas and Simmons met at the Valrico Walmart, and Simmons later transferred to the Seffner location. Foster regularly visited the men at the mobile home where he later killed them, authorities said.
"I hope he gets what he deserves for what he did," Karen Deas said. "They didn't deserve this. Nobody deserves to die like this."
Times reporter Caitlin Johnston and news researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (813) 226-3400 or [email protected]