TAMPA — They met at a strip club. She was 26. He was pushing 60. He thought it was a date. Authorities say it was a robbery.
The bizarre turn of events netted the arrest Tuesday of Heather Michelle Philippus, who set up 59-year-old Francis Offer to be the victim of a home invasion robbery, according to Hillsborough County deputies.
It all started at Thee Crazy Horse, a club at 8831 W Hillsborough Ave., where Offer was a regular patron, according to a sheriff's report. He had seen Philippus there a few times.
On Sunday, she agreed to go back to his $400,000 home in the Sweetwater subdivision, a gated community off Memorial Highway, deputies said. When they got there, Philippus walked around unlocking doors while the man fired up his Jacuzzi.
As he was about to dive in, two men and another woman burst into the home with guns.
They grabbed Offer and beat him about the face with the butt of a gun, deputies said. Then, they bound his arms with cable ties. The gang moved Offer from room to room, forcing him to reveal the location of a safe, then forcing him to open it, deputies said. They made off with a set of watches and $1,500 cash.
Bruised and bleeding, Offer managed to get to a phone and dial 911, sheriff's officials said.
Detectives tracked down Philippus at her home in Clair-Mel. She admitted in an interview that she set up Offer to be robbed, deputies said. She was arrested on charges of home invasion robbery and kidnapping and held in jail without bail.
Authorities were trying to identify the three others involved. The two men were both described as being in their mid 20s. One was about 6 feet tall and balding with a large build. The other was about 5-feet-8 with a thin build, short brown hair and a mustache. The woman was described as in her late teens or early 20s with a thin build. During the robbery, she covered her face with a gray hoodie.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.