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Largo police take fresh look at 1987 murder of Alexander Winspeare

Alexander A. Winspeare — 93 years old and just 100 pounds — could not have been more alone or more harmless in life.

A widower for more than 20 years, the retired machinist took breakfast every morning at the Fireplace Restaurant on Seminole Boulevard. He stayed there for lunch and often dinner, visiting with customers and napping at his table.

But on Oct. 26, 1987, someone broke into his mobile home and killed him.

Twenty-one years later, this case is still unsolved, but Winspeare has not been forgotten in death. His is the only cold case homicide in the city of Largo, and it falls to Detective Keith Barton to close it.

Barton took over the case in 2002 and ordered a new set of forensic tests. Then he and his partner, Detective Joe Coyle, started interviewing witnesses.

"On a cold case you're starting from ground zero," Barton said. "Identify the people you need to talk to. Identify the evidence available to you. You start from scratch."

In six years, he and Coyle have interviewed 60 people, some of them two and three times. Leads in the case have taken them to six states: Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island.

So far police have an idea of how the murder happened, but they need someone to come forward with the specifics.

Winspeare was born in England in 1894 and came to the United States in his late teens or early 20s. Along with his sister, Winspeare settled in Michigan. He worked as a machinist for Pontiac Motors for his entire career and then retired to Largo in 1962 with his wife, Adda, according to his nephew, Jack Dundas.

In 1966, Winspeare's wife died, leaving him alone in his converted Airstream trailer at 519 Fourth Ave. NE near Largo High School.

He had a few friends who looked after him, but at night there was no one around.

Five weeks before Winspeare's murder, someone broke into his mobile home while he was asleep and stole his wallet with $250 cash, police said.

Barton said there were a lot of juveniles in the area committing burglaries at the time. One or more of them likely burglarized his house the first time and returned for a second try.

"Maybe he woke up and recognized them?" Barton said. "I don't have any reason to think they had any intention of doing it."

Nothing was stolen from the house on the night of the killing and no witnesses have come forward, but Barton thinks there are people from the neighborhood who know what happened and have kept it to themselves.

He's hoping that someone's conscience results in a call to police or that someone gets tired of keeping another person's dirty secret.

"My main goal," he said, "is to give Mr. Winspeare and his family some peace and let them know the Police Department did everything it could to solve it."

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Largo police take fresh look at 1987 murder of Alexander Winspeare 04/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2008 10:06am]
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