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Teen awakens to untold terror in family stabbing

TAMPA — Melissa McElroy was asleep about 4 a.m. Wednesday when she heard her mother scream. Moments later, she found her parents and twin sister bleeding profusely from stab wounds.

It wasn't a nightmare. It was the work of her 21-year-old brother, McElroy told deputies.

Her brother, James Kenneth McElroy, was apprehended at a Tampa apartment complex late Wednesday, about 18 hours after deputies rushed to his family's Carrollwood home and found James McElroy, 50, stabbed to death and Karen L. McElroy, 54, and their 18-year-old daughter, Michelle, seriously wounded.

Both remain in serious condition at St. Joseph's Hospital with stab wounds to the upper torso, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Melissa McElroy told deputies that she was jolted out of her sleep early Wednesday by the sound of her mother screaming. She jumped out of bed, walked outside her bedroom and found her twin sister, Michelle, bleeding from her arms and chest, according to the Sheriff's Office.

She then locked herself inside her bedroom, called 911 and climbed out her window. After watching her brother leave the house and speed away in his Jaguar, she fled to the home of a neighbor, who called the Sheriff's Office.

According to deputies, McElroy then returned to her family's one-story house at 11309 Hollyglen Drive in the Plantation subdivision. There, she found her father, mother and sister all stabbed and bleeding profusely from their wounds. Her father died of his injuries at the scene, while the others were rushed to the hospital for immediate surgery.

But James McElroy was nowhere to be found. By midday Wednesday, deputies had secured a warrant for his arrest on murder charges; just before 10 p.m., they took him into custody at the Camden Wood Apartments on Hillsborough Avenue.

McElroy, who was found by deputies with a small bag of marijuana in his pocket, faces charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. As investigators continued to comb through his family's home on Thursday, he remained at the Orient Road Jail without bail.

While the authorities said they have no motive in the case, neighbors said James McElroy and his father never got along. In fact, Wednesday was not the first time authorities had been called to the McElroy home.

Two years ago, an argument between father and son left the younger McElroy hospitalized and his father jailed on a domestic violence charge of aggravated battery. But the charge was later dropped because McElroy's mother told authorities that he, not his father, was the first to attack.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Thomas Kaplan can be reached at (813) 226-3404 or

Teen awakens to untold terror in family stabbing 07/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 6:03pm]
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