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Holiday man arrested in year-old arson, murder

HOLIDAY — Almost one year after authorities found Theresa Jones dead in the back yard of her incinerated house, a man has been charged with her murder.

Charles Edward Dear, 45, was booked Tuesday by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office on charges of second-degree murder and arson. He was briefly Jones' tenant, but deputies do not believe they were dating.

Upon his arrest, Dear gave his address as 1131 U.S. 19, which is the Crystal Inn in Holiday.

Jones, 46, was renting the home at 4635 Darlington Road in Holiday when the house was destroyed in a fire in the middle of the night on June 17, 2008.

More than 36 hours after firefighters snuffed out the blaze, a 13-year-old neighbor came by looking for a motorbike he was building with Jones' son, then 14. Instead he found Jones' body under a fresh patch of dirt in the back yard.

Medical examiners determined Jones had been strangled. The house most likely was burned to hide evidence, sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

Dear had been arrested Friday on other charges: four counts of burglary and one of stalking. He had been a suspect in Jones' death so a detective interviewed him about the case, Doll said, and Dear confessed.

Doll did not release information Tuesday on what might have prompted the killing.

After working out the details with the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office, the Sheriff's Office booked Dear for murder. He is being held without bail at the Land O'Lakes jail.

Dear was convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Pinellas County in 2005, for which he served more than two years in prison.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Isaac Arnsdorf can be reached at iarnsdorf@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6232.

Holiday man arrested in year-old arson, murder 06/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:53pm]
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