TARPON SPRINGS – Susie Filaretou's daughter keeps an ax by the bed.
Whoever killed an elderly couple near the Filaretaous' home on Chesapeake Drive last month is still on the loose. Filaretou said her daughter worries she could be the next victim.
Across the city, other citizens share that worry, along with frustration about a news blackout imposed by authorities.
Police Chief Bob Kochen said he is aware of public concern. But he will make no comment on the investigation. He will not even answer the question: Should residents be concerned for their safety?
"We are working real hard on it,'' Kochen told the St. Petersburg Times. "I understand you have a job to do but I ask that you be very careful on this. For us, the investigation is paramount and I can't get into all these question and answer sessions because we are not going to jeopardize our investigation."
Firefighters responded to a burning home at 504 Chesapeake Drive about 6 a.m. on Jan. 4. Later, they discovered the bodies of Steve Georgiou, 83, and his wife Flora Georgiou, 78. An autopsy determined that they had been murdered.
Police say the couple suffered trauma to their upper bodies but have not named a suspect or said exactly how the Georgious were killed.
Capt. Brandon A. Ball is the state fire marshal investigating the fire. Because of the ongoing criminal investigation, he would not disclose how the fire started.
"It was an intentionally set fire, but we will not release any details," Ball said. "We know the cause. Anybody who uses fire as an instrument of violence against our citizens is something we take extremely seriously."
Filaretou said her adult daughter is worried about her.
"Whoever did this tried to hide the evidence by setting the fire, and I was the first one to alert people that the house was on fire," Filaretou, 76, said Tuesday while standing in her driveway. "My daughter thinks that the (murderer) might come after me. I wish they would find who did it though. Someone is running loose, but I'm not afraid."
Chesapeake Drive resident Dave Winterhalter is concerned about the pace of the investigation, now in its fourth week.
"It's frustrating the length of time that has gone by and no arrest," Winterhalter said. "There is at least a murderer on the loose and I don't know what's going on. People are on edge."
Steve and Flora Georgiou were lifelong Tarpon Springs residents and longtime city business owners. They owned Anclote Marine Ways, a boat repair company, and Miss Milwaukee Fishing Co., a deep-sea fishing party boat that is one of the oldest businesses at the Sponge Docks.
Steve served in World War II and Flora graduated from Tarpon Springs High in 1950. Tuesday, the door to their ranch-style home remained boarded up.
"They were nice people but stayed to themselves and shouldn't have any enemies," Filaretou said. "They were extremely friendly and hard-working people, both of them were."
Paulette Hooper, who also lives on Chesapeake Drive, said in the past, she's never been afraid.
"But I'm concerned now," Hooper said. "I wish we could find something out. It would ease my mind. We are working on a month here."
Aleck Alissandratos said he was as "perplexed as everyone else" in the community.
"Do we have a bad guy running around our community?" he asked.
Contact Demorris A. Lee at 727-445-4174 or [email protected]