TAMPA — Daniel Misla stepped across the dirt driveway Thursday morning in front of the house where he and Eric Salabirria spent their childhoods. He passed a string of crumpled police tape and slipped through a side door into the kitchen, where a puddle sat near the base of a refrigerator. A few feet away, another puddle marked the floor near the front door.
One of those spots was the place where Salabirria, Misla's brother, spent the last moments of his life.
The grim scene inside the house at 10013 N 24th St. in North Tampa was the aftermath of what police say was a double killing the previous night. It is the third unsolved double slaying in the Tampa Bay area in the last two weeks.
The victims were Salabirria, 28, and his girlfriend, 21-year-old Chelsea Sizemore. She is the daughter of David Sizemore, known on the air as disc jockey Dave "Flash" Morgan of Q105 (WRBQ-FM 104.7). The crime happened within earshot of Chelsea Sizemore's 2-year-old daughter, McKenzie, who was with a neighbor at the time, according to her family members.
Tampa police released few details about what may have led to the killings. Detectives were working several leads, they said. But as of Thursday afternoon, the killers were still unidentified.
All of it, Misla said, left both families reeling and grasping for answers.
"We were just starting to get back into a routine since my mother passed about a year and a half ago," he said. "And now this happens."
A caller to 911 reported the deaths about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Both Salabirria and Sizemore were dead when officers arrived. The home had no signs of forced entry, and police said the couple died from upper-body trauma.
Misla said both were shot to death. Piecing together the turn of events from what he heard from police, Misla said an argument broke out between two or three other people who were in the home with Salabirria and Sizemore.
"We don't really know how it started," he said. "When the altercation happened, one person took the little girl to a neighbor's house. When they got back, that's when they found them."
Misla and his father, Miguel, walked through the home near University Square on Thursday, sorting his brother's belongings. Outside, a group of Sizemore's friends and extended family paced the front lawn.
They lamented the killings. They spoke of their anger over a lack of information. But what upset them more, they said, was their suspicion that the police might have missed something important.
Misla explained: His brother had a gun. Somehow, forensic technicians missed it when they were going through the home, he said.
Salabirria had the weapon for protection, Misla said. He also had a concealed weapons permit. When the family found the gun in the house Thursday morning, it was still stored in its case along with two fully loaded ammunition clips. They reported their finding to detectives.
"You think because there is a gun in the house, you're safe," Misla said. "But you just never know when something is going to happen."
Tampa police spokesman Andrea Davis said that " we did not miss a gun," not elaborating further.
The young couple had been together off-and-on for several years, family members said. Salabirria was married in 2005 to Crissy Cardenas, court records show. They divorced in May and listed no children or assets on court documents.
About the same time, Salabirria and Sizemore moved into the 24th Street house, the same place he had called home growing up. A Wharton High School graduate, he worked several years as an air conditioning technician before getting a job as a plumber-in-training with a Miami-based company, Misla said.
The family adopted Salabirria, Misla's cousin, as a baby. The pair thought of each other as brothers.
Sizemore, according to her Facebook page, was born in Panama City and worked at a local dry cleaning business. Photos of her and Salabirria depict the couple wearing Gasparilla beads and posing for snapshots. Neither of them have criminal records in Florida.
On her page, Sizemore also posted numerous pictures of her young daughter, including one of the little girl beaming a smile, captioned: "the love of my life." The girl remains in the care of family members.
Leina Guzman, who works at McNatt's Cleaners, spent a few days with Sizemore while they were both being trained about a month ago. Sizemore would talk about her young daughter, she said. "I got to know her a little bit," Guzman said. "She was a nice person."
David Sizemore posted a message about her death Thursday morning on his Facebook page.
"It is with the saddest heart that I have to report that my youngest daughter Chelsea was killed last night in what appears to be a home invasion," he wrote. "I am living a parent's worst nightmare. … I have endured a lot of things in my life, but this is by far the most difficult thing to try to understand. My child has been taken from me, and I am broken."
Meanwhile, authorities in the region are working on the spate of unsolved killings.
On Jan. 28, Paula Witthaus, 54, and a 67-year-old man she was caring for, James Edward Rapp, were found dead in her St. Petersburg home. Police said they had been "brutally attacked." On Monday, Jessica Keith and Amber Lynn Jordan, both 24, were found dead after a house fire in Hudson. Pasco County investigators said the fire was set to cover up the deaths.
Times staff writer Jimmy Geurts and news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Dan Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.