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Second St. Petersburg home invasion has bizarre twist

Less than 24 hours after a family was held hostage in St. Petersburg, it happened again at this house. Police ask anyone with information to call them at (727) 893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or text (727) 420-8911.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Less than 24 hours after a family was held hostage in St. Petersburg, it happened again at this house. Police ask anyone with information to call them at (727) 893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or text (727) 420-8911.

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than 24 hours after a family was held hostage at gunpoint, police said it happened again — this time with a bizarre twist.

A woman was forced to melt butter, and one of two armed men rubbed it on her chest while robbing her home late Monday night, police said. She wasn't injured, police said, because the butter cooled before she poured it on herself.

The woman said the men searched her kitchen cabinets for cooking oil, but couldn't find any. They settled on butter and told her to boil it. Then, they duct-taped her mouth, hands and feet.

As one man searched for money, another removed the tape from her mouth and gave her water. He then ripped off her dress and rubbed the melted butter on her chest.

Authorities said they didn't believe there was any sexual overtone to it. Still, the St. Petersburg Times is not identifying the woman because of the nature of the attack. Intimidation is commonly used during home invasions, but using hot butter is unusual, police said.

Police think the invaders were looking for drugs, the same motive police attributed to an unrelated home invasion earlier Monday in a different neighborhood. In the earlier incident, three gunmen held a couple and their two children hostage for five hours looking for drugs, police said. They used a hot iron to torture the father, who was shot as he escaped by jumping through a glass window of the house at 3998 53rd Ave. S.

Michael E. Mells, 32, was still in a hospital Tuesday when police arrested him on a charge of cocaine possession. Police said they found "residual elements" of the drug in the house.

Police still haven't said what was taken from the house, but did reveal how the gunmen got away: They stole Mells' black 2007 Lexus RX330.

The second home invasion started when two invaders, armed with guns and a knife, forced their way into the woman's home about 11:30 p.m. as she returned from work at a rehabilitation center.

Police said the invaders have Jamaican accents and are not believed to be city residents.

Once inside the home at 2410 Kingston St. S, the two armed men woke up and bound the woman's 15-year-old son.

"They duct-taped him like a hog," the victim said.

She said she doesn't know the two men who robbed her home, but that they had called over the weekend demanding $5,000.

The men made the woman unlock her bedroom, where she kept her military brother's guns, an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and a Glock 36 handgun.

She estimates they took about $25,000 worth of gold and diamond jewelry. The men also left with $400 from her purse.

An ex-boyfriend in Jamaica called Tuesday, adding to her suspicion that the men were looking for money connected to him.

During the robbery, she said her son asked them why they were robbing them. They told him it involved his stepfather, the woman's husband, who wasn't home at the time.

She described the invaders as not taller than 5 feet 8. One had a two-inch scar lining the left side of his jaw.

The woman said the men called again Tuesday afternoon while detectives were there. They told her next time they'd be ready to kill.

St. Petersburg police ask anyone with information about either home invasion to call them at (727) 893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call (727) 892-5000 or send a text to (727) 420-8911.

Second St. Petersburg home invasion has bizarre twist 10/05/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 9:19pm]
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