Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Neighbor who cut Jeffrey Norton's grass is arrested, charged in his death

ST. PETERSBURG — Police say the man who mowed the lawn of actor and theater teacher Jeffrey Norton has confessed to his killing.

Thomas J. Lafoe, 58, of 333 43rd Ave. N was arrested Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder. He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail and will be held without bail.

Lafoe became a suspect when police learned he had used Norton's credit card to buy two pairs of shoes on Saturday.

Norton, 55, was found dead in his home Sunday night. A friend found his body when she went to check on him after he didn't answer calls. Police said he had suffered upper body trauma and had been dead for up to 72 hours.

Wednesday, police arrested Lafoe on a warrant for failing to appear in court to face a June citation of owning an inoperative vehicle. Once in custody, police found Lafoe had Norton's identification on him.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said they believe the motive for the homicide was money. Puetz said Lafoe told investigators that he killed Norton with a sword. Police have not recovered a weapon, he said.

Lafoe does not have any previous arrests in Florida, public records show.

Norton was a prolific actor who appeared in productions throughout the Tampa Bay area, including the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac and David Mamet's Oleanna.

He taught acting, movement and voice at USF from 1991 to 2005. Lately, he was working as the theater manager at Shorecrest Preparatory School.

Lafoe lived around the corner from Norton and mowed his lawn, police said.

Monday morning, Lafoe pedaled a bicycle by Norton's house, which was surrounded by yellow police tape. Lafoe told a St. Petersburg Times reporter who was on the scene that he had last mowed Norton's lawn two or three weeks earlier but had yet to be paid.

Lafoe said he had been cutting Norton's grass for about a year and a half. He also said he had been knocking on Norton's door recently because "he owed me for the last cut." Norton never answered, he said.

Lafoe said he was fishing Sunday night when a friend called and told him something was going on at his neighbor's house. Lafoe came back and "everything was all chaos," he said.

Wednesday, Lafoe's next-door neighbor, Cindy Tergesen, described him as weird and said she wasn't surprised to hear police think he's responsible for the killing.

She said Lafoe stopped her in her yard Monday evening and asked if she had heard how Norton died. When Tergesen said she hadn't, Lafoe told her Norton had been killed with a sharp object and had nearly been decapitated, she said.

Times staff writer Katie Sanders contributed to this report. Contact Sara Gregory at (727) 893-8785 or sgregory@sptimes.com.

Neighbor who cut Jeffrey Norton's grass is arrested, charged in his death 07/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Navy expected to relieve admiral in charge of 7th Fleet in response to deadly disasters at sea

    Nation

    The Navy will relieve the senior admiral in charge of the service's 7th Fleet based in Japan in response to four embarrassing accidents this year, two of which killed sailors at sea, two U.S. officials said.

    Tugboats assist the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain on its way to Changi Naval Base in Singapore on Monday. [U.S. Navy]
  2. Trump chides media over Charlottesville

    National

    President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Va., protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counter-protester.

    Trump met service members before the rally.
  3. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  4. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed by another police union

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement