Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Man with kittens in freezer rooms with double-shooting suspects, authorities say

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 [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

Comments
New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

A 49-year-old woman died early Saturday in a single-car crash on State Road 580.Kristin Carlin, of New Port Richey, was driving in the eastbound lanes of SR 580 when she failed to round a curve and veered off the road near Charles Avenue, a Clearwate...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

The first time deputies arrested Samuel Morrissey Jr., he faced charges of possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed firearm. He plead no contest in September, and the judge gave him a break by withholding adjudication. Ten days later, the 20-...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Deputies arrested a man they said tackled a woman in February and removed her shorts before fleeing.Robert Mark Hembree Jr., 31, was arrested late Friday. He faces charges of sexual battery and petit theft.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Detectives seek man who a...
Published: 04/21/18
Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

A Pasco County man was struck and killed in an apparent hit-and-run early Saturday, police said.Thomas Michael Burdeshaw, 53, who lived on Sundance Drive in Dade City, was hit about 1:45 a.m. on the 36000 block of Blanton Road, police said.Witnesses ...
Published: 04/21/18
Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

CLEARWATER — Police are looking for a person who shot and killed a man late Friday at the Melrose on the Bay apartments on Bolesta Road. Ricardo Guzman, 32, called 911 just before midnight and told the operator he had been shot, said Lt. Randall Chan...
Published: 04/21/18
Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

TAMPA — A motorcyclist driving north on Memorial Highway died after he crashed into a guard rail late Friday, police said."The man failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck a guard rail," said Lt. Brett Owen. "No other vehicle was involved i...
Published: 04/21/18
Cops used dead man’s finger in attempt to access his phone. It’s legal, but is it okay?

Cops used dead man’s finger in attempt to access his phone. It’s legal, but is it okay?

LARGO — Most people agree what the Largo detectives did at the funeral home was legal.What they diverge on is whether it was appropriate."I just felt so disrespected and violated," said Victoria Armstrong, whose fiance, Linus F. Phillip, was shot and...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA — Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG — Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Published: 04/20/18

Deputies: 19-month-old child found in New Port Richey pond has died

NEW PORT RICHEY — The 19-month-old child that was found in a pond on Thursday afternoon has died, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.The incident took place at about 12:31 p.m. Deputies and firefighters were called out to a home in the 47...
Published: 04/20/18