Friday, June 22, 2018
Public safety

Police: Tarpon Springs man may have researched murder methods before killing grandparents

A Tarpon Springs man accused of killing his paternal grandparents and then burning their home told a jail inmate he researched murder tactics online for weeks before the 2011 attack, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday.

George S. Georgiou, 24, is accused of fatally shooting Steve Georgiou, 83, and Flora Georgiou, 78, prominent Tarpon Springs residents, in their house at 504 Chesapeake Drive on Jan. 4, 2011.

The search warrant affidavit contains some of the first news in the murder case since spring of 2011.

Tarpon Springs police requested the search warrant so they can examine the hard drive of George Georgiou's Acer laptop computer for evidence that he had searched online for ways to kill his grandparents. The laptop has been in the possession of police since the killings, but had not been searched.

Georgiou, who has remained in jail since his arrest on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing June 18.

According to the affidavit, Georgiou talked about the killings and his online research to fellow inmate Joshua Hood, who was housed near Georgiou in the Pinellas County Jail on drug, burglary and grand theft charges.

In a January 2013 interview, Hood, 25, told detectives that Georgiou confessed to using .22 caliber and .25 caliber guns to kill his grandparents by shooting them in the head and chest. Hood said Georgiou also told him that he researched how to cover up DNA evidence with fire.

Hood's story is consistent with some of the findings of the police investigation. Tarpon police said that matches used to set fires in the elderly couple's home were the same as matches found in Georgiou's bedroom at his parents' home, also on Chesapeake Drive.

According to the affidavit, Georgiou's DNA was found on one of the matches in his grandparents' home.

The affidavit also revealed that a gunshot residue test was performed on Georgiou's hands the day the bodies were discovered. "This test came back positive for gunshot residue," the affidavit states.

Georgiou's diaries, described two years ago in court records, implied he was angry with his grandparents. He wrote that they owed his father money. Steve and Flora Georgiou owned Anclote Marine Ways, a boat repair company, and Miss Milwaukee Fishing Co., a deep-sea fishing party boat.

Georgiou told detectives earlier that he went to his grandparents' home that January morning to force them to pay up. Georgiou wrote that his family's stack of bills was "as big as a duffle bag" and that their home was in danger of going into foreclosure.

Firefighters called to the home that morning discovered the carnage: Flora Georgiou's body was found in the laundry room, where investigators believed she had attempted to hide after being shot. One of the fires was set on or near her head. Steve Georgiou's body was found inside the front door.

Their grandson's journals also revealed that the 22-year-old had lived an isolated, lonely life, closely monitored by his parents and spending most of his time in his room. He never attended school outside the home and didn't have a car or a job.

However, he wrote that he was a "survivalist" and enjoyed shooting guns. He told investigators he thought it would be cool to kill someone, police reported.

Authorities seized 13 guns and more than 16,500 rounds of ammunition from the home Georgiou shared with his parents.

According to the original arrest report from January 2011, when investigators asked Georgiou if he killed his grandparents, he twice told them he didn't remember.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

Comments
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Updated: 9 hours ago
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Updated: 9 hours ago
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Updated: 10 hours ago
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

Deputies: Cheerleading coach sent explicit images to 16-year-old

A 28-year-old cheerleading coach faces charges for engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Victor Martin Valenty faces 10 counts of traveling to meet a minor, distributing ob...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership. Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, o...
Published: 06/21/18
St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

St. Pete police: Three lieutenants lied about their work hours

ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets st...
Published: 06/21/18
Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

Deputies: Zephyrhills bank robbed, suspect flees on bicycle

A Suntrust Bank in Zephyr-hills was robbed early Thursday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.At 12:50 p.m., deputies said, the man walked into the bank at 34511 State Road 54 and presented a note demanding money, though he did ...
Published: 06/21/18
Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

Man found dead in Hillsborough Bay had a big fan in the cat world

TAMPA — To his friends and neighbors at Tampa Baptist Manor, Norman Lester Porterfield was the man who fed and spoiled Lucky, the scruffy stray calico cat in the back yard. To his friends and coworkers at the Salvation Army, he was a great athlete, a...
Published: 06/21/18