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Manhunt ends when authorities find wanted pair in Tampa hotel

TAMPA — A pimp set up for work in a Howard Johnson Hotel amid the strip clubs and pawn shops of Dale Mabry Highway.

In Room 228, the pimp kept his 8-month-old daughter and a bag of marijuana. In Room 129, men lured through the Internet visited a prostitute.

On Monday evening, local and federal law officers raided the rooms and busted the pair. But the arrests were for far more than pimping and prostitution.

They marked the culmination of a yearlong manhunt, including a segment on America's Most Wanted, for two fugitives wanted for a killing in Georgia.

A tip to the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Atlanta led investigators to Emma Hope Grant, 27, and Derrick Paul Holmes, 29.

Federal marshals and Tampa police arrested them at the hotel, 2055 N Dale Mabry Highway, based on a tip from the show.

A tattoo on Grant's neck, "DP" for Derrick Paul, gave her away, according to America's Most Wanted.

Business was apparently still going strong. Authorities seized a ledger filled with names of clients, prostitutes and dollar amounts. They found a duffel bag filled with cell phones and about $10,000. Condoms and sex paraphernalia were scattered over the room used for clients.

"He was running it like a Fortune 500 company," said Ron Lindback, a deputy U.S. Marshal.

The state Department of Children and Families took in the couple's 8-month-old daughter.

Holmes and Grant were charged with murder and are being held for extradition to Georgia.

In 2008, police and federal agencies began investigating people running a Southeastern crime ring they said included murder, prostitution and trafficking minors across state lines.

Holmes was among those under investigation. Authorities identified him as a pimp who recruited girls younger than 18.

Holmes is accused of killing one of them, Nekeisha Rawls, then 31.

Rawls quit being a prostitute and returned home to Stone Mountain, Ga. But in 2008, Holmes and Christopher Pressley staked out her mother's house, police said. When Rawls got into a car there, shots were fired into it and killed Rawls.

FBI agents arrested Pressley in 2009. Police said Grant drove the getaway car.

She was charged with murder but was released on bail and was ordered to wear an ankle monitoring device. She cut off the monitor last year and fled with Holmes, authorities said.

The couple doesn't have ties here. They were in Tampa about a month, authorities said, after stopping in Orlando.

A manager at the Howard Johnson said a woman paid the daily $57 rate for a room.

Rosalyn Lumpkin, Rawls' mother, was elated by the arrest.

She said her daughter was sweet, beautiful and doing well until she met Holmes. She said she can live easier now.

"I couldn't live the way I was living," she said. "I hope he gets the max. I hope he rots in jail. He won't be terrorizing people on the face of this earth."

Holmes' grandmother cried when she heard he had been arrested. Northa Holmes last talked with him five years ago, and he said he was in Atlanta.

She'd been worried because it had been so long since she heard from the grandson who grew up in Louisiana and attended church with her when he visited. She didn't know he had been connected with criminal activity.

"That's bad news," Northa Holmes, 83, said. "But it's still better news than him being dead."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Ileana Morales can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or imorales@sptimes.com.

Manhunt ends when authorities find wanted pair in Tampa hotel 12/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:10pm]
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