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Trail leading to arrest of woman in Jacksonville murder went through Tampa Bay

Nestled among socks, papers and leopard-print heels, a dead man's cellphone was sending out a signal that led investigators to a Palm Harbor apartment last week.

Using the phone and other items discovered there, authorities arrested a 24-year-old woman Thursday in the brutal killing of Daniel Somerson, whose body was discovered wrapped in a bloody rug inside his St. Johns County home.

Latoya Korren Jordan, who met Somerson through Craigslist, was found Thursday near Panama City at the home of another man she met through the website. She faces first-degree murder charges.

Somerson and the other man are among many Jordan met on Craigslist as she moved around Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, authorities said.

Somerson picked up Jordan in the St. Petersburg area in late May and took her back to his home in Fruit Cove near Jacksonville, where they lived together, investigators said.

Their relationship is believed to have been platonic, said Sgt. Chuck Mulligan of the St. Johns Sheriff's Office. "She was contacting multiple people for room and board from what it appears," Mulligan said. "But something went very wrong here."

Deputies went to Somerson's home after neighbors reported they had not seen him for many days. They found his bloodied body rolled up in a carpet inside his home July 8.

The body, which had multiple stab wounds, appeared to have been there for some time, deputies said. It was so decomposed that the medical examiner used dental records to identify it as Somerson.

Jordan, known to many of her Craigslist encounters as "Tonya," continued living in Somerson's house for several days after he was killed while she sought another place to live, deputies said. She eventually found another man on Craigslist who picked her up and drove her to the Tampa area, officials said.

From there, deputies said, Jordan bounced from place to place, staying with several people around Tampa Bay, including Richard Bradley, 63, of Palm Harbor.

Bradley told Pinellas County sheriff's deputies he picked her up from Hernando County after meeting her through Craigs­list. She lived with him for several days and left behind several storage bins containing personal effects, officials said. And Somerson's cell phone. But Bradley, who knew her only as "Tonya," didn't know her real name or anything about a murder that happened 200 miles away until deputies arrived at his doorstep.

She left his home Sunday, telling Bradley she had a job interview in West Palm Beach and would return for her things in a week, deputies said.

Instead, she made her way north, toward Panama City. Investigators used her own cell phone to track her movements.

After her arrest, Mulligan said, Jordan admitted killing Somerson. A motive was not immediately clear. Although Jordan had been arrested on prostitution charges in Miami-Dade County in 2004, she had no history of criminal violence in Florida, according to state records.

Somerson was considered quiet and reclusive by neighbors, according to news reports. In 2004, Somerson was questioned and cleared by the FBI when a letter containing a vial of poisonous ricin was found in a mail facility near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina. Somerson had been a truck driver for Mail Contractors of America, a company that brought mail to the facility.

Trail leading to arrest of woman in Jacksonville murder went through Tampa Bay 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 11:20pm]
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