Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

Pasco authorities: Man tied up wife, then holed up in house with kids

ZEPHYRHILLS — An armed man who tied up his estranged wife and then holed up for hours in a home with their three kids inside gave himself up Sunday morning, deputies said.

Joseph Lee Stafford, 52, was booked into the Land O'Lakes jail, facing charges of kidnapping, aggravated battery, battery and obstructing justice, records show.

Stafford is a registered sex offender with a lengthy criminal past, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

FDLE records show that about six months ago, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of violating a domestic violence protective order. Details of the circumstances were not available, but records show prosecutors later dropped the charge.

This weekend's episode began Saturday night when Stafford tied up his estranged wife at a home where he lived at 40741 Woodtrail Lane, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

She was able to free herself and ran to neighbors to get help. The Sheriff's Office did not identify her.

Investigators learned that Stafford had left the scene to go to a home where she lived at 4919 18th St. He was inside with their three children — two sons ages 3 and 5, and an 18-year-old daughter.

A SWAT team was called out to the home at 1:17 a.m. Stafford surrendered at 5:08 a.m., the Sheriff's Office said.

No one was injured.

The Sheriff's Office said its preliminary investigation showed Stafford had threatened to harm himself and his estranged wife, but not the children.

Florida Department of Corrections records show that Stafford has served two stints in state prison — the first in February and March 1989, and the second from August 1989 to July 1994.

On May 7, 1989, records show, he was accused of attempted sexual battery by force in Pasco County. He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Details of that incident were not available Sunday, and records do not explain why he did not serve the entire prison sentence.

Because of that crime, he appears as a sex offender in the state's registry.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

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