TAMPA — Three years after her husband was fatally shot inside his semitrailer truck, Gloria Lee says she was shocked to learn the police have identified a suspect.
"I didn't think we'd ever know," said Lee, of Nicholls, Ga.
About 4 a.m. Feb. 22, 2008, Roger Lee, 65, waited in his truck for a Clorox manufacturing plant in Tampa to open. He sat in the sleeper cab working on a model airplane, officers say.
Then, Cedric Jermaine Barnes, 28, of Tampa, opened the driver's side door, demanded Lee's wallet and shot him once in the chest, Tampa police say.
Lee was able to climb out of the truck but died soon after.
Barnes has been charged with murder, attempted armed robbery with a firearm and armed burglary. He is currently in state prison on unrelated charges.
Police say an unidentified associate of Barnes told them that Barnes shot Lee after becoming angry that he had only $15 in his wallet.
When police made it to the scene of the crime, the wallet had been left open. Three years later, the wallet provided the breakthrough that would put authorities back on the trail.
Earlier this year, after officers resubmitted fingerprints, they came up with a match.
Investigators regularly resubmit fingerprints, in part, because the database expands when arrests are made.
"We are used to seeing crimes solved in an hour on TV, but that isn't the real-life scenario," police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.
Gloria Lee praised Tampa police Detective Eric Houston, who resubmitted the fingerprints. "They've really been great," she said. "Detective Houston has been fantastic."
She described her husband, who loved model airplanes and had a pilot's license, as a great father and husband.
"He had no enemies. He was a good person. He loved life," she said.
About his death, she said, "It's just one of these situations: It happens to somebody else, but it doesn't happen to you."
News researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.