ST. PETERSBURG — On Saturday morning, Pinellas deputies were called to the Sunshine Mobile Home Park for a brutal double shooting apparently fueled by unrequited love.
The next night, they were called to another mobile home park — this one just down the street — for a brutal animal cruelty case involving kittens individually wrapped in sandwich bags in a freezer.
By the third day, authorities had uncovered a bizarre twist: The suspects in the two cases were roommates.
They all lived in the same mobile home, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Monday. Two of them were father and son.
• • •
Sheriff's investigators say Francis James Bahr, 55, shot a man and woman at the Sunshine Mobile Home Park early Saturday morning. Bahr wanted a relationship with the woman, but had been rebuffed.
Bahr had help, deputies said.
They arrested Damian William Blanchard, 24, late Monday after he returned to the home he shared with his father and Bahr in the Vagabond Mobile Home Park.
Blanchard was "directly involved" in the shootings and called the victims out of their home before they were shot, said Pinellas County sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda.
It is unclear whether Blanchard knew that less than 24 hours earlier, someone had found a bunch of kittens in his freezer — or that his dad was jailed because of it.
• • •
The kittens were wrapped individually in sandwich bags, tucked on the bottom shelf of the freezer inside Rodney J. Blanchard's trailer.
Three orange and white ones — all males — were alive. A fourth, a calico and white female, had stopped breathing.
It isn't clear how long the cats, estimated to be about 6 weeks old, were there before Rodney Blanchard's friend Eva Mulder found them.
Mulder, 38, was visiting Rodney Blanchard, 49, on Sunday evening at his place, 7570 46th Ave. N, lot 175. At one point, Pinellas deputies said, he asked her to grab him a beer from the freezer.
Mulder found the kittens instead.
"She tried to take them out of the freezer," Barreda said. "He wouldn't let her."
In fact, Rodney Blanchard kicked her out. Deputies soon arrived.
They heard meowing as they approached the freezer. They gathered the shivering, flea-ridden kittens and wrapped them in a blanket.
The SPCA took custody of the kittens, as well as an unharmed adult cat found in the home.
Rodney Blanchard was arrested on charges of animal cruelty and misdemeanor battery. He told deputies "he didn't know what he was thinking," Barreda said. "Then he said some statements to the effect of putting the cats in timeout."
Jill Purl, an investigator with SPCA Tampa Bay, said it's likely the kittens weren't in the freezer for that long.
Ironically, she said, the plastic bags may have protected them. Besides being chilly and having fleas, authorities haven't discovered any serious health issues.
"They will go up for adoption before Christmas," Purl said.
Rodney Blanchard was in the Pinellas County Jail on Monday in lieu of $8,500 bail.
• • •
The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate Saturday's shooting. They said Monday that the victims, both shot in the upper body, remain in critical condition but were well enough to talk to detectives.
Bahr and Damian Blanchard are both charged with two counts of attempted murder and were being held without bail Monday night.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8643.