Monday, December 11, 2017
Public safety

Hudson homicide victim lived risky life

HUDSON— The woman across the street reckons she called authorities more than 100 times on the people living in the brown stucco home. She once witnessed a man strangling his girlfriend in the front yard. Cars pulled up to the house at all hours of the day and night. The sheriff says it was a known drug house.

"One of these days," Joyce Parkinson, 69, remembers telling deputies, "you're going to pull a body out of that house."

Sunday night, that's what happened.

About 8 p.m., someone came to the door at 12206 Bear Claw Loop, said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Francis "Frankie" Soto invited the person inside. Soto and the other person went into a private room to talk. A few minutes later, two other people in the house came running out. Neighbors, again, called deputies.

Deputies found Soto, 26, dead with a gunshot wound. No one has been arrested in connection with his murder. Nocco said detectives are gathering information on possible suspects, whom he declined to name.

"Mr. Soto, he's a high-probability victim," Nocco said, "which means when you're involved in drugs, when you're dealing, when you've had several arrests and you're in the game, you have a higher probability that you're going to be a victim at some point in your life than somebody who was just innocent and minding their own business."

One thing was for certain, Nocco said: Frankie Soto was well acquainted with his killer.

By midmorning Monday, police tape ringed the yard around the home where three cars sat in the driveway and a sheriff's cruiser parked on the sidewalk. Neighbors in the tidy Beacon Woods golf course community emerged from their homes to congregate in driveways, gesturing toward the home that didn't quite belong.

Dana Deane, 48, leaned against the sheriff's cruiser trying to get a deputy's attention. She thought the sheriff's description of Soto was harsh.

Soto grew up with her children and dated her daughter. He'd come to her home, a few streets over, for dinner and birthday parties. He'd lived in the house on Bear Claw Loop his whole life. Frequent seizures left him with the mental capacity of a 16-year-old, she said. Other kids poked fun at him.

Soto's grandmother died a few years ago, then his mother in April. Nocco said the home fell into foreclosure. He was left with a home and no family. He was sweet on the inside, Deane said, but life made him hard on the outside.

Illiteracy kept him out of a job, Deane said. He couldn't drive, either. In his free time, he'd become swept up in cult followings the way a child takes to costumes. One day, he'd be a wrestler, the next a gangster.

Notably, he belonged to the Juggalo Family.

Nocco described the Juggalos as a gang and said his detectives aren't sure whether Soto's affiliation played a part in his murder. The FBI classified the contingent as a gang in 2011. More commonly, though, the term just means a fan of the Insane Clown Posse, a carnival-themed rap group. Juggalos are known for donning clown face paint and drinking Faygo soda.

The last five years of Soto's life are logged in police reports with as many arrests. Courts found him guilty of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, carrying a concealed weapon and misdemeanor marijuana possession. In a mug shot from 2009, where he was charged with drug possession, Soto's face appears smudged with signature Juggalo face paint.

Soto's home turned into a drug den about four months ago, after his mother died, Deane said, though Parkinson suspected drugs there for years. His maxim, she remembers, points to Soto having a relationship with his killer: "If you don't know them, don't let them in the house."

Parkinson and her husband walked outside Sunday night to find Bear Claw Loop full of patrol cars. Six people from inside the home sat spaced out on the sidewalk, being questioned by deputies. Parkinson recognized them as the people who'd come to her door to ask for food and money. She handed them water at the curb and asked what happened.

Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

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