ST. PETERSBURG — The man accused of stabbing a motel manager to death was high on crack cocaine, according to St. Petersburg police, and looking to buy more drugs.
Police arrested John Gregory Browning, 23, early Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of the manager of the Inn on the Hill. They say he admitted killing the manager "in a drug-induced rage," and then stole up to $100 from the motel register.
Police on Wednesday also identified the victim: 54-year-old Howard G. Floyd.
Floyd was once listed as a transient in jail records, but residents said he lived and worked at the Inn on the Hill at 275 34th St. S for the past few years. He lived in apartment No. 1 and was known for his generosity, preparing an annual Thanksgiving meal for residents and anyone else who happened to be around.
Floyd knew Browning and had given him money in the past, including Monday, according to police. Browning was seen with the victim about 9 p.m. Monday night, police said. It was the last time Floyd was seen alive.
According to police, Browning became incensed when Floyd refused to give him more money. He armed himself with a kitchen knife he found in the apartment, and repeatedly stabbed the manager in the chest, police said.
Witnesses reported seeing Browning leave the motel with bloody clothing and a cut hand. Browning later told detectives how to find the clothing he wore at the time and the knife, police said.
Floyd's death was discovered Tuesday morning, when motel staff became concerned and the owner called 911. Officers found his body at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Browning's last known address was the homeless shelter at Pinellas Safe Harbor at 1480 49th St. N, police said. His first arrest was at age 13, according to state records, for drug charges in Manatee County. He was arrested numerous times for robbery and other drug offenses in Bradenton and Palmetto. His first arrest in St. Petersburg was in 2009 for petty theft. Browning was being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.