Saturday, February 17, 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.

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