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Tampa police locate person of interest in fire death probe

TAMPA — Tampa police say they have located a woman spotted on a South Tampa convenience store's surveillance camera at the time of a deadly arson nearby.

The Tampa Police Department has not yet identified the woman or said whether she is a suspect in the death of 65-year-old Richard Lee Blackman. He died at Tampa General Hospital after being pulled from his burning home at 6709 W Interbay Blvd.

Investigators ruled Blackman's death a homicide, but they have not said what caused the fire.

A witness called 911 from a nearby Circle K convenience store about 1:39 a.m. Thursday and reported smoke and flames coming from the home. Firefighters rescued Blackman from a downstairs living room, where he had suffered second- and third-degree burns on his body.

A witness later told Bay News 9 that someone was seen jumping over a brick wall and running from the house shortly after the fire began.

Police released surveillance video from the Circle K showing a woman driving a white, four-door car and wearing a pink shirt, pink bandana and blue jean shorts.

The video showed the woman backing the car into the parking lot and entering the store twice, once wearing the bandana and once without. She told the clerk she was from Lakeland, police sad.

Tampa police said media airing the footage helped locate the woman, who they still referred to as a person of interest on Friday night.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at tmitchell@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3405.

Tampa police locate person of interest in fire death probe 09/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 23, 2011 5:47pm]
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