TARPON SPRINGS — They were neighbors, but not friends. They greeted each other in passing.
But Tarpon Springs police say that on Dec. 7, Richard Lee Brockington stabbed his 73-year-old neighbor, Eddie Dixon, to death to get cash Dixon was known to carry.
On Wednesday, Tarpon Springs police arrested Brockington, 46, on a charge of first-degree murder. He is being held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail.
The two men were neighbors at the time in North Ring Village, operated by the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority. A jail booking sheet gave Brockington's current address as 3142 Darlington Road in Holiday.
Police said surveillance video shows Brockington leaving Dixon's apartment Dec. 7 carrying two wallets. He transferred money from one wallet into his own wallet and then hid the emptied wallet in a bush, police said, returning later to retrieve it.
The video shows that he was the last person to enter the apartment before Dixon, a Vietnam veteran and grandfather, was killed that day, police said.
Dixon died after being stabbed repeatedly by a sharp-edged instrument. According to an arrest affidavit, his killer rifled through his pants pockets, turning them inside-out, and pulled down his socks. Dixon, who did not trust banks, often carried money in his pockets and his socks, according to an arrest affidavit.
Police said that after he left Dixon's apartment, Brockington went into a neighboring apartment. A resident there told police that Brockington had several $50 bills and blood on his shirt.
Reward money of $5,000 didn't lead detectives to the suspect, said Tarpon Springs police Capt. Jeffrey Young. Though months have passed and police had the surveillance footage, Young said only recently did they have enough evidence to make an arrest.
Dixon's daughter said she had seen Brockington around the apartment complex in the weeks before her father's murder. He seemed like a normal, friendly neighbor.
"I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe he'd been that close to my dad the whole time," said Dena Tingling, who lives in Largo. "I'm glad he's off the streets now. He's going to pay for what he did. I'm going to be at every hearing to make sure of that."
Danielle Paquette can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4224.