Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Public safety

Man wanted in St. Pete killing found hiding in baby crib

ST. PETERSBURG — A man accused of killing a 21-year-old woman last month tried to hide in a baby's crib Tuesday when authorities came to arrest him, police said. A police dog found Morris Vernell Hires III in the crib and bit him on the arm before officers and members of the U.S. Marshals Service took him into custody.

Hires, 18, was arrested at his home at 535 26th Ave. S, the same address where Felicia Celeste Vickers was shot March 15.

He was accused of the killing a few days after Vickers died and authorities issued an arrest warrant. Detectives think he left the area, but recently returned home, police said.

"Apparently they developed some information that he was back in town," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Authorities came to Hires' home about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday and began a search. The dog found him in the crib, police said, but Hires tried to resist arrest and the dog bit him.

He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

Vickers, who had recently moved to St. Petersburg from her native Tennessee, was in a group of people who drove to Hires' house to buy drugs just after midnight March 15, authorities said. When they got there, one of the people in the car argued with Hires.

He then pulled a gun and fired into the car, police said. A bullet hit Vickers.

The group drove to Bayfront Medical Center, where they dropped off Vickers and sped away, police said. She was taken into the hospital, but died later that day.

Detectives later identified the people who had accompanied Vickers to the house and zeroed in on Hires as a suspect. He was charged with her death March 18.

Police did not know where Hires fled immediately after the shooting or what prompted him to return, Puetz said. He faces a charge of second-degree murder.

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