Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Plant City police find dead man in yard

PLANT CITY — The man lay at the edge of his driveway beside his wife's black Volvo, its front end toward the street, its driver's door still hanging ajar. It isn't clear how long he lay there or if anyone may have passed him by before the morning sun shed its first rays over the miniature palms and cacti in the nearby yard.

But when a neighbor passed by and found the lifeless body of Edward Henry Lewis, there was no doubting that the man had been murdered.

Authorities were called to the 67-year-old retiree's home at 914 W Warren St. in Plant City just before 7:30 a.m. Monday. Lewis was declared dead a short time later.

Police declined to say exactly how he died, a spokesman describing him as having suffered "upper-body trauma." But residents of the small, working-class neighborhood — many of whom knew Lewis well — said he had been shot to death.

"It's a sad day," said Marvin Boyd, who had known Lewis for more than two decades. "This really didn't have to happen. He's not the kind of person that you could just walk up to him and kill him. I could think of no one in this community who would want to do that."

Detectives were investigating Lewis' death Monday, questioning those who knew him and had close contact with him. His wife, Marquito Lewis, was inside the house when her husband was killed, police said. But it wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, she heard or saw.

"Detectives are interviewing several people," said Plant City police Sgt. Tray Towles. "They're in the process of getting a warrant to search the entire residence and the vehicle. … Right now, we don't have any suspect info."

But they do have a handful of potential early leads, including one that came from a call dispatchers received about 3:30 a.m. Monday. The caller reported hearing gunshots in the neighborhood where Lewis lived, Towles said. Officers arrived to investigate the report, but apparently found nothing amiss.

"We don't know at this time if that call is related to this homicide," Towles said. "We're not saying they are related, but it's a good starting point."

Investigators swarmed the street in front of the modest single-story home early Monday. Yellow police tape blocked all street traffic in front of the house and a dozen patrol cars, marked and unmarked, sat parked with lights flashing.

A covered porch lined the front of the house, a portion of it jutting over the grassy plain that stretched south and west to where a set of four cars sat facing the street. They were expensive vehicles — a Mercedes and a Cadillac among them — part of what those who knew Lewis said was a "side business" that he ran.

"He'd buy them and fix them up and sell them," Boyd said.

It was what allowed him to treat his wife so well.

"He spoiled her," said Elizabeth Jones, who said she was a cousin to Marquito Lewis.

But the business wasn't just for his wife. It was also to keep up appearances, neighbors said. Whenever they saw him, he was always dressed up, donning fancy suits and collared shirts. He was a man who liked to look good.

And, they said, he was a man who liked to party. He went out often, buddying up with companions young and old, Boyd said. That showy nature was part of what earned Lewis his nickname.

"Everybody called him Mr. Tip," Boyd said, with a chuckle.

It was a lifestyle that one could say he earned, having retired many years ago after a career with CF Industries, at the company's phosphate fertilizer plant.

He never did anyone wrong, Jones said. When he passed by, he always greeted her with a smile.

"I just saw him Saturday night," she said. "He was in his white truck and he came by while I was at the block party and he blew the horn at me and waved."

Whoever is responsible for Lewis' death surely didn't know the man, Jones said.

"Somebody might have seen him coming home and — you know what I'm saying? — somebody wanted to take from him," she said. "He wasn't partying with no wrong person. It was just the devil was out to get him."

Comments
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE ó Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 3 hours ago
New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

A 49-year-old woman died early Saturday in a single-car crash on State Road 580.Kristin Carlin, of New Port Richey, was driving in the eastbound lanes of SR 580 when she failed to round a curve and veered off the road near Charles Avenue, a Clearwate...
Published: 04/21/18
Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

The first time deputies arrested Samuel Morrissey Jr., he faced charges of possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed firearm. He plead no contest in September, and the judge gave him a break by withholding adjudication. Ten days later, the 20-...
Published: 04/21/18
Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Man who attacked woman and stole her shorts arrested, deputies say

Deputies arrested a man they said tackled a woman in February and removed her shorts before fleeing.Robert Mark Hembree Jr., 31, was arrested late Friday. He faces charges of sexual battery and petit theft.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Detectives seek man who a...
Published: 04/21/18
Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

Dade City man killed in early morning hit-and-run, police say

A Pasco County man was struck and killed in an apparent hit-and-run early Saturday, police said.Thomas Michael Burdeshaw, 53, who lived on Sundance Drive in Dade City, was hit about 1:45 a.m. on the 36000 block of Blanton Road, police said.Witnesses ...
Published: 04/21/18
Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

Police searching for person who shot a man to death in Largo

CLEARWATER ó Police are looking for a person who shot and killed a man late Friday at the Melrose on the Bay apartments on Bolesta Road. Ricardo Guzman, 32, called 911 just before midnight and told the operator he had been shot, said Lt. Randall Chan...
Published: 04/21/18
Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

Motorcyclist dies after crash on Memorial Highway

TAMPA ó A motorcyclist driving north on Memorial Highway died after he crashed into a guard rail late Friday, police said."The man failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck a guard rail," said Lt. Brett Owen. "No other vehicle was involved i...
Published: 04/21/18
Cops used dead manís finger in attempt to access his phone. Itís legal, but is it okay?

Cops used dead manís finger in attempt to access his phone. Itís legal, but is it okay?

LARGO ó Most people agree what the Largo detectives did at the funeral home was legal.What they diverge on is whether it was appropriate."I just felt so disrespected and violated," said Victoria Armstrong, whose fiance, Linus F. Phillip, was shot and...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA ó Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG ó Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Published: 04/20/18