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Immigrant's marriage of convenience turns deadly

Sheriff’s deputies say a double stabbing Sunday began with a fight at 3400 Tarbolton Way. A Land O’Lakes man was arrested in the slaying of his wife late Sunday; her son is hospitalized.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Sheriff’s deputies say a double stabbing Sunday began with a fight at 3400 Tarbolton Way. A Land O’Lakes man was arrested in the slaying of his wife late Sunday; her son is hospitalized.

LAND O'LAKES — It was a marriage of convenience, at least on his part. Orane Glen Ferguson, a Jamaican citizen, had overstayed his visa and needed help to stay in the States. He got it by marrying Lenora Neal, a single mom and a nurse, in 2005.

Sheriff's deputies said they fought from the get-go. He wanted a divorce. She didn't.

On Sunday evening, their troubled arrangement ended with the 35-year-old woman stabbed to death in the bathroom of her home at 3400 Tarbolton Way and her 15-year-old son, Gabriel, stabbed in the chest.

Ferguson, 29, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. He also faces an attempted murder charge. He was being held Monday in lieu of $100,000 bail and will be required to give up his passport.

Sheriff's detectives said the couple argued about food. The verbal battle rapidly escalated to a fistfight.

Lenora Michelle Ferguson yelled for her son to call 911. He saw the violence in the living room and grabbed a kitchen knife. Orane did the same.

Lenora ran into a bathroom and closed the door. Sheriff's reports say Orane kicked in the bathroom door and stabbed his wife multiple times. Gabriel tried to get inside the bathroom. He was stabbed once and ended up on neighbor Luis Rivera's front lawn.

Gabriel L. Neal, whose wound was so bad Rivera said he could see his lungs, was taken to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. His condition was upgraded from critical to fair Monday. His family issued a statement saying they hope for a full recovery. They thanked everyone for their support and requested privacy.

Joseph Perera, who lives two doors down, described Gabriel as "a nice kid" who was often seen helping his mother with yard work.

Orane Ferguson was arrested. During questioning, he told Detective Greg Hinnant about the circumstances surrounding his marriage to Lenora.

"He said he was not attracted to her at all," Hinnant said.

At an initial appearance Monday, Circuit Judge Stanley Mills noted the unemployed handyman's clean record.

"Well, you picked a whopper to start with," he said.

Lisa Buie can be reached at (813) 909-4604 or buie@sptimes.com.

Immigrant's marriage of convenience turns deadly 07/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 28, 2008 5:05pm]
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