RIVERVIEW — The two men questioned in connection with Wednesday's stabbing death of a Riverview 7-Eleven store clerk have been released while a third man remains jailed on a first-degree murder charge.
Hillsborough County sheriff's detectives determined that there is not enough evidence to link Russell Travis Beasley, 25, and Brandan Garret Green, 23, to the killing of Kenneth Lee Redding, 54, deputies said.
The pair was released without charges early Thursday morning after hours of questioning.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Bongiovanni, 20, remains in jail without bail in Charlotte County, pending extradition to Hillsborough.
It was Bongiovanni, deputies said, who walked into the 7-Eleven store at 11015 Bloomingdale Ave. just before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and hid in a bathroom for several minutes before crouching in an aisle, then attacking Redding. Surveillance video from the store recorded Bongiovanni stabbing Redding more than a dozen times, deputies said.
After the attack, Bongiovanni stole a pack of up to 500 scratch-off lottery tickets and fled, leaving a trail of blood through a nearby parking lot, deputies said. Those tickets were what led detectives to him.
Investigators tracked the ticket serial numbers with the help of the Florida Lottery, spotting them as they were cashed at various convenience stores south of Tampa Bay, authorities said.
Beasley and Green did not go into the Riverview store, but surveillance cameras at other convenience stores later recorded the trio together.
Thus far, deputies said, only Bongiovanni is believed to be involved in Redding's slaying.
The 20-year-old already has a long arrest record. He has been booked 12 times on burglary, trespassing, grand theft, battery and probation violation charges, according to state records. In 2011, he was sentenced to five years of community supervision for an aggravated battery arrest.
He was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he was seen walking in Charlotte County.
Beasley and Green were detained after they were spotted driving a Toyota Solara on Interstate 75 in Sarasota County. Both men cooperated with detectives during questioning, deputies said. They are considered material witnesses in the first-degree murder case. Investigators are still trying to determine what role they might have played in cashing the stolen lottery tickets.
Business operated as normal at the 7-Eleven in Riverview on Thursday, with several cars fueling up and teenagers inside getting Slurpees.
Bryon Pippin crouched before a makeshift memorial outside the store, picked up a piece of white chalk and scrawled a farewell to Redding.
Pippin, 42, would chat with Redding every morning when he came in to deliver newspapers for the day.
"He always had a smile on his face," Pippin said.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.
Times staff writer Caitlin Johnston contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.