Monday, December 18, 2017
Public safety

St. Petersburg police identify second victim in houseboat killings; suspect in custody

ST. PETERSBURG — Detectives didn't look far for the accused killer who allegedly murdered a couple found dead on a large houseboat Friday morning at Loggerhead Marina.

Authorities in Nash County, N.C. arrested Raynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria early Saturday while he was driving a rental car. The 40-year-old lived in an apartment complex across from the marina.

"We believe he did some odd jobs for them," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz. "It's not an intimate relationship."

On Saturday, police identified Germana Morin, 74, as the second victim in the double murder. John Travlos was identified Friday. Morin lived with Travlos, 75, on his yacht, near 58th Avenue S, just east of Interstate 275.

Detectives focused on Figueroa-Sanabria about four hours after learning of the killings, Puetz said. They found he rented a car Friday and could be headed to New York, where he has relatives.

No further details will be released until detectives interview Figueroa-Sanabria on Sunday in Nash County, which is east of Raleigh.

Travlos and Morin had lived aboard the boat, which Travlos owned, for a year and a half. A neighbor last saw them alive Thursday night. Their relatives did not return calls for comment.

How Figueroa-Sanabria developed the relationship remains unclear.

He rented an apartment less than two months ago in the Whitehall Gardens complex, a neighbor said. Police towed a white van from the apartment complex Friday night and a car and golf cart from the marina.

Figueroa-Sanabria didn't talk to many people at the complex, said neighbor Colleen McDonald.

Not long after moving in, he started driving Travlos' golf cart between the marina and apartment complex. She never spotted Travlos or Morin at the complex.

"I think he befriended them," McDonald said. "There was some sort of relationship."

A patrol car guarded the yacht Saturday afternoon.

A massage therapist who had a previously scheduled appointment on the boat arrived Friday morning and knocked on the door, police spokesman Puetz said. Getting no answer, she approached an electrician who had arrived to do work on the boat.

Together, they made their way inside and found the bodies.

Travlos and Morin both died from upper-body trauma, Puetz said, but the specific cause of death was not released. The motive appeared to be robbery.

In addition to murder charges, Figueroa-Sanabria also had a warrant for cocaine trafficking, Puetz said.

A North Carolina Highway Patrol officer pulled over an older Ford Taurus matching a fugitive alert around 1 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 95 near Rocky Mount. Figueroa-Sanabria surrendered peacefully.

A trooper spotted the car an hour after receiving the alert, said First Sgt. Martin Jones. The suspect told troopers he was headed to New York.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

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