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Hernando man took photo of two he killed with baseball bat, deputies say

SPRING HILL — After Craig Aaron Lede beat his victims to death with a baseball bat, authorities say, he photographed their bodies.

The image, he told investigators, was a trophy.

Lede was charged Friday with two counts of premeditated murder, accused of killing John W. Ketsemidis and Dana D. Nelson. Hernando County sheriff's detectives say he confessed.

It started about 11 p.m. Wednesday, reports say, when Ketsemidis and Nelson drove to Lede's house at 4272 Gondolier Road to collect a debt.

Lede couldn't pay and, for some reason, he became enraged, authorities say. Investigators say he grabbed the bat and bashed Ketsemidis in the head. Then, they say, he struck Nelson. Both lay helpless on the floor as Lede slammed the bat over and over into their heads and upper bodies, according to investigators. At the Sheriff's Office, he showed detectives how he swung the weapon.

Lede, 40, told detectives he killed the two because he was tired of being "screwed over."

After the slayings and the photograph, detectives say, Lede pulled Ketsemidis' 2001 BMW into the garage. He bound Nelson's hands, wrapped her head in a cloth and dropped her in the trunk, detectives say. They say he tied Ketsemidis' feet with an extension cord, dragged the body into the garage and covered him with a blanket.

Then, authorities say, he took a gold Bulova watch off Ketsemidis' wrist and slipped it on.

Less than two hours after the killings, Ketsemidis' father, Zafirios, heard the garage door open at his Spring Hill home. Then, someone knocked at the door. He assumed it was his son.

When Mr. Ketsemidis opened the door, he said, Lede was standing in front of him, and his son's car was parked outside.

Lede told him his son had fallen down, cut his leg and gone to the hospital, Mr. Ketsemidis said. Then, something even stranger happened: Lede requested money.

"He killed my son," Mr. Ketsemidis said. "And then he came in my house to ask me for $40."

At that moment, and throughout the day as Lede ran errands, authorities say, Nelson's body remained in the trunk.

John Ketsemidis and Nelson were dating and had lived with his parents for about 18 months. When the parents didn't hear from their son for two days, they reported the 29-year-old missing.

Ketsemidis, who has a long criminal history, was on felony probation and wore an ankle monitoring device. The tracking bracelet led deputies to the house, the bodies and Lede.

When they found him, reports say, blood stained his clothing.

His father-in-law, David Stenger, said Lede has a temper. Lede has a history of domestic violence and a September 2010 battery charge.

Lede once hit Stenger's daughter, prompting her to leave the marriage, file a restraining order against him and begin the process of divorce, Stenger said.

Neighbors said they've heard loud, intense arguments come from Lede's house for years.

Lede's behavior worsened about a year ago, after he was in a devastating car accident and became addicted to painkillers, Stenger said.

The stark difference between Lede's two most recent mug shots — one from late last year and the other from Friday night — illustrate his dramatic deterioration. In the photo taken Friday, his hair is tousled, his face is swollen and his eyes look hollow.

Ketsemidis' mother, Magdalena, acknowledged that her son and Nelson, 28, took painkillers. Ketsemidis had four injured disks in his back. Nelson told her she took medication because she had once been hit by a bus and was in constant pain.

Lede, Nelson and Ketsemidis were all patients of Hope Pain Management Clinic, which was shut down last month after authorities accused its owner of practicing medicine and writing prescriptions for pain medication without a license.

Nelson showed up for an appointment at the clinic the day of the raid. She told a Times reporter she had been in several car accidents, including one in which she was run over. Nelson acted jittery and confused that day. She wore a white hoodie backwards, but seemed to be unaware of it.

Mrs. Ketsemidis described Nelson, who was unemployed, as quiet and kind. Her son, she said, loved technology and had intended to start his own computer repair company.

Like Ketsemidis and Lede, Nelson had a history of domestic violence. Her record also includes some minor charges for retail theft, criminal mischief and marijuana possession.

Ketsemidis' criminal past was much more serious. In 2000 and again in 2004, he was found guilty of DUI charges. In 2008, he was convicted of burglary, possession of a firearm by a felon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Just two weeks ago, he was again charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and violation of a domestic violence injunction.

Still, the Ketsemidises said their son was a good person and a loving son.

"He just got mixed up with the wrong people," Mr. Ketsemidis said. "The guy who killed him was supposed to be his friend."

Mrs. Ketsemidis only met Lede a few times. He was "a little weird," she said, adding that he often spoke about his obsession with guns and of the time he had served in the Army.

The couple are still in shock, especially at the gruesome nature in which detectives say Lede committed the murders. Someone from the morgue told Mrs. Ketsemidis that Nelson was beaten so badly she was unrecognizable.

"I'm in a big dream or something," she said. "It's like I'm a vegetable. You have no feelings."

Hernando man took photo of two he killed with baseball bat, deputies say 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 9:01pm]
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