PORT RICHEY — In a line of chairs on the front porch, five children watched the fire Tuesday evening. The belongings of the man who killed their mother smoldered in two grill basins in the yard. Orange light flickered in the shadows of Albert Lane's face as he told the story about the woman he loved.
He and Tina Diane Lane, who went by Diane, divorced last June. Albert, 56, took up living with his friend Rex Shelton at a small house 5 miles away. About two months ago, he said, Diane started dating Shelton.
Diane, 37, broke it off three weeks ago, said her daughter, Ann Lane, 21.
Diane and Albert went to lunch at a McDonald's in Tampa two weeks ago. They talked. He said they fell back into love.
In the meantime, Shelton, 56, began writing her notes, texting repeatedly and harassing her. Albert caught wind of it and told Shelton to pack his bags and leave.
Shelton planned to move to Atlanta, but he'd need money. He asked Albert for help with one last painting job to help raise the funds.
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On Monday morning, they were scheduled to paint a house on Ranch Road.
Diane called Albert at 6:45 a.m. and asked him over for coffee and to talk. He said he kissed her and told her he loved her. She told him to get a move on and help Shelton with the job so he'd leave.
He and Shelton were painting the house until 9:15 a.m., when Shelton announced he needed 5 more gallons of paint to finish the garage door. Albert watched him pull out of the driveway in his truck. Shelton should have been gone only a few minutes.
Albert waited there for six hours.
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Just before 2:30 p.m. Monday, Ashley Lane, 15, walked from Gulf High School to her home at 6018 Maplewood Drive. She and her older sister, Ann, noticed something strange through the window to the garage.
Shelton's body hung by the neck from a rope in the rafters. He wore only boxers. He was up to his elbows in blood.
They called 911, but couldn't get into the house.
New Port Richey police officers would later break in to find Diane bludgeoned to death in her bedroom.
Emergency crews arrived and flooded the small street. The family huddled in a driveway across the street from their house and wept in each other's arms. Albert heard from a friend about the news and was taken to the home he shared with Shelton.
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On Tuesday night, they sat on the porch and burned Shelton's belongings and remembered Diane, their mother, his former wife.
"She was a beautiful woman," Albert said. "She could just touch me with her fingers and I would melt. Her smell would just reverberate in me."