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Police: Pinellas taxi driver was stabbed 200 times, run over with her own cab

ST. PETERSBURG — Investigators thought they solved the mystery of Linda Faison's death a year after her slaying. That's when, in September, a grand jury indicted Louis Tillman on a murder charge.

But now other questions are emerging:

Why was she stabbed 200 times?

Why was she then run over with her own cab?

Why was she so horrendously killed by a man she had never met?

"Stabbing somebody is certainly a more personal way of killing someone than shooting them," said St. Petersburg Maj. Mike Puetz. "Utilizing a knife requires close contact, and given that she was stabbed over and over again, it does suggest a very strong level of hatred for whatever reason."

New details of Faison's killing were made public when Tillman was booked Tuesday into the Pinellas County jail on a first-degree murder warrant. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

He had been in Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton serving 10 years in prison. He was sentenced in July on unrelated Pinellas charges of armed robbery and armed burglary.

Faison, 39, was one of three cabdrivers killed during a series of violent robberies in 2008.

On July 12 at 5:38 a.m., the Yellow Cab driver was dispatched to 310 64th St. S, according to court records. The call came from the home of Tillman's family.

Faison's body was discovered two hours later on an Azalea Middle School road. She was stabbed so many times, police said, that a piece of her attacker's blade broke off into her body.

Detectives quickly focused on Tillman, 22. Two witnesses said they saw a man matching his description driving the cab in a "suspicious manner." Later, two friends told detectives that Tillman told them he killed a cabdriver, according to court records.

Police said Tillman is not a suspect in 2008's two other cabdriver killings. Both were found shot dead in their cabs, and both deaths remain unsolved. Blue Star driver Cyril Obinka, 43, was killed May 2 in St. Petersburg. Yellow Cab driver Jack LaGrand, 50, was killed Sept. 17 in Clearwater.

All three were robbed.

But the violence in Faison's death, Puetz said, is unusual in that most murders are committed quickly. Intentionally inflicting harm over a longer period, he said, can occur when an assailant knows the victim well.

But Faison and Tillman had never met. And if Tillman called for the cab, as police alleged, he couldn't have known who would be sent to pick him up. That's why Puetz suspects something psychological at work.

"You sometimes see this in cases of serial killers, where there is a satisfaction that is derived out of the murder," Puetz said, but cautioned that Tillman is not suspected in any other deaths.

"This is something that the average human being can't possibly relate to."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Police: Pinellas taxi driver was stabbed 200 times, run over with her own cab 11/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 10:46pm]
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