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Murder suspect arrested in Masaryktown robbery

MASARYKTOWN — With a Band-Aid, detectives say, they found their suspect.

Three masked men had broken into a Masaryktown home earlier this month and robbed the occupants, Michael John Pfeifer and Cliff N. Kearney.

Pfeifer fought back and in the struggle, the 27-year-old was shot in the knees, authorities said. The gunmen fled, and Pfeifer died before emergency personnel arrived.

As investigators combed the scene for clues, they spotted a bloody adhesive strip on Pfeifer's shoe. Detectives sent it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for DNA testing.

Soon, the analyst found a match: Richard Denard Harris, a 24-year-old wanted on five warrants, including possession of crack cocaine and possession of marijuana.

Pfeifer's father, George, said from what authorities told him, he believes detectives have already identified two other suspects in his son's killing. "It was a little bit of relief," he said. "I'm glad they got somebody."

Mr. Pfeifer said he learned from investigators that one of the men involved in his son's killing may have also been the subject of another murder or attempted murder investigation.

Authorities still haven't told him what they believe prompted the robbery or the killing, Mr. Pfeifer said, but he believed it may been over his son's watch.

"It's sad," Mr. Pfeifer said. "He died for nothing."

Investigators have not said whether they've identified or detained any other suspects in the case.

When Hernando County Sheriff's Office detectives approached him Thursday at his home off Hale Avenue in Brooksville, Harris ran, according to an arrest report. Moments later, he was captured.

Harris had a Newport cigarette box packed with 41 Alprazolam pills, the report said. Detectives say they also found two Ecstasy pills inside a clear plastic baggy.

During an interview Thursday, authorities said Harris admitted being involved in the Aug. 16 robbery and death.

He and two other men broke into the home about 11:30 p.m. armed with an assault-style rifle, shotgun and several handguns, according to a sheriff's report. They demanded money and drugs.

Kearney was struck on the head and Pfeifer was shot in both knees, the report states. An autopsy found he died from multiple gunshot wounds to the legs.

Harris, investigators say, matched the description Kearney gave them. Kearney said Harris had carried the assault rifle.

Harris was charged with first-degree murder, home invasion robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm and a host of drug-related counts. He was being held with no bail set.

Since 2005, he has been arrested six times on charges including possession of cocaine, resisting arrest without violence, loitering and prowling, felony fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement, and battery. The outcomes of those cases were not available Friday.

Deputies said the investigation into Pfeifer's death is continuing.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Murder suspect arrested in Masaryktown robbery 08/26/11 [Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 9:09pm]

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