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Tarpon Springs couple found in burning house homicide victims, autopsies show

TARPON SPRINGS — Autopsies performed Wednesday revealed that a Tarpon Springs couple found dead in their burning home were murdered, authorities said.

Steve and Flora Georgiou did not show any signs of smoke inhalation and were dead before the fire was set, according to the autopsies done by the Pinellas County Medical Examiner.

The Georgious were discovered on the floor of their one-story home at 504 Chesapeake Drive about 6 a.m. Tuesday when firefighters responded to a 911 call. Firefighters pulled the couple from the burning home before putting the fire out.

Steve Georgiou was 83. Flora Georgiou would have turned 79 Wednesday.

Tarpon Springs police said Tuesday the couple suffered some sort of trauma to their upper bodies, but the agency has declined to discuss the injuries in detail, citing the ongoing investigation.

The state fire marshal has not released the cause of the fire, police said.

Police said Wednesday they are pursuing leads in the case and looking for possible witnesses.

The Georgious owned Anclote Marine Ways, a boat repair company, and Miss Milwaukee Fishing Co., a deep-sea fishing party boat founded in 1947 that is one of the oldest businesses at the Sponge Docks.

"That's where all the blood, sweat and tears went," niece Chrisanphy Vatikiotis said of Anclote Marine Ways. "That man worked day and night. He would hammer on the boats till the sun went down."

Of the Georgious' three children, Stephanie, George and Art, Vatikiotis said: "They're doing the best that they can."

As the town geared up for today's annual Epiphany celebration — the largest in the United States — residents exhibited shock and disbelief Wednesday, with many saying they were still waiting to learn more about how and why the couple died.

Andy Salivaras, 70, who owns Mykonos restaurant at the Sponge Docks, said he has known the family for 30 years.

"I'm very surprised. (Steve Georgiou) was a quiet and very nice man. You never would expect it," Salivaras said as he sat in the restaurant Wednesday. "I feel sad because if someone make this crime, they must be crazy. You can't expect it."

David Gauchman, president of Sponge Docks Merchants Association, echoed what many in the community were saying.

"This is very horrible for the family," Gauchman said. "That's the worst part of it all, what the family must be going through."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157. Times staff writer Danny Valentine and Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

. Fast facts

How to help

The Tarpon Springs Police Department asks anyone with information about the case to call detectives at (727) 938-2840.

Tarpon Springs couple found in burning house homicide victims, autopsies show 01/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 7:54pm]
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