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Husband is arrested in 15-year-old killing

SEFFNER — It took 15 years for deputies to gather enough evidence to arrest Reubin Mongee and charge him with the murder of his wife, Barbara, who disappeared in 1993.

The thin, tall and blond 37-year-old woman was last seen in October 1993 at Hillsborough Community College's Brandon Campus before a scheduled one week break.

Over the years, Reubin Mongee told some people she was visiting relatives out of state, and others that she died of carbon monoxide poisoning, or in a car accident, or divorced him, according to a Hillsborough County sheriff's news release.

But in 2007, construction workers unearthed her remains at a site on Parsons Avenue and Windfield Lane in Seffner — just a mile from the home she once shared with Mongee at 218 Gay Road.

And the Hillsborough County medical examiner found that a bullet to the back of the head killed her, not carbon monoxide.

So deputies joined forces with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to build a case against Mongee, and acted on that Thursday, arresting the 73-year-old man at his home.

Though the gun hasn't been found, physical evidence at the construction site as well as Mongee's contradictory statements gave deputies what they needed to make an arrest, said sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway.

"A case like this isn't just solved overnight, it takes months of investigation and interviews," he said of the months that have passed since the body was discovered.

Barbara Mongee's father, Cheston Walton of Plant City, declined to comment about the arrest.

Mongee has been in trouble only twice since his wife's disappearance. In 1994, his then 4-year-old daughter was taken from his home, and deputies never explained why.

Later that year, he was charged with uttering a forged instrument after he signed his wife's name in an attempt to cash a $1,553 U.S. Treasury check.

After that year, neighbors told the St. Petersburg Times, he was a recluse and rarely had visitors other than his daughter.

He left his home on Gay Road for 5530 Briny Breeze Drive in Dover, after deputies searched the house in 2007 for evidence in the case of his wife's murder.

Mongee was charged with second-degree murder and taken to the Orient Road Jail, where he was being held without bail.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Husband is arrested in 15-year-old killing 10/02/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:03am]
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