Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Public safety

Couple found dead on houseboat were stabbed by handyman, St. Petersburg police say

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ST. PETERSBURG — A man and woman killed on their houseboat Friday were stabbed to death by a man they had known for months, police said Monday.

It will likely be several days before Raynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, arrested in North Carolina a day after the slayings, will be extradited to Florida.

But on Monday, police released a few more details about the crime the 40-year-old is accused of committing.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz said Figueroa-Sanabria had worked for John Travlos, 75, and Germana Morin, 74, for at least six months. His motive for killing the couple — discovered dead aboard their 72-foot-long boat Friday morning at the Loggerhead Marina — appears to be robbery, he said. "Apparently a large quantity of jewelry was missing," Puetz said.

Police said they quickly zeroed in on Figueroa-Sanabria. Neighbors said he recently moved into an apartment across from the marina and was seen driving Travlos' golf cart.

"He did odd jobs, painting and cleanup type issues around the boat," Puetz said.

Within hours, police alerted other law enforcement they were looking for the man.

A North Carolina highway patrol officer pulled over a rented 2004 gold Ford Taurus matching the fugitive alert around 1 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 95 near Rocky Mount in Nash County, east of Raleigh.

Figueroa-Sanabria surrendered peacefully, police said. He told officers he was headed to New York, where he has family.

Figueroa-Sanabria has been charged with first-degree murder. He also was wanted on a warrant for trafficking cocaine, police said.

The couple, whose boat was moored at the marina just east of Interstate 275 near 58th Avenue S, was last seen alive around 8 or 9 p.m. Thursday, Puetz said.

At about 11 a.m. the next morning, a massage therapist arrived for a regularly scheduled appointment. When no one answered the door, she got help from an electrician who also came to work on the boat. Together, they discovered the bodies.

Detectives interviewed Figueroa-Sanabria on Sunday, but have been mum on what, if anything, he said.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

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