Friday, November 24, 2017
Public safety

Sheriff: Fire set to cover up double murder in Brandon

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BRANDON — The homeowner's association president thought the resident in No. 1528 had tinted her windows black, a violation of the Carlisle Club Townhomes rules.

The neighbor in No. 1530 thought she smelled smoke Wednesday, but her air conditioning was acting up and she figured that caused the smell.

But when the smell persisted Thursday, the neighbor called Hillsborough Fire Rescue.

Authorities were still investigating late Thursday the circumstances surrounding what firefighters discovered at 1528 Highland Ridge Circle: two dead women in a charred townhome.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee called it a double murder, and said the fire appeared set to cover up the crime.

The causes and time of the deaths and the names of the victims were not released. But the Sheriff's Office did release the name of a man they want to interview in their investigation.

He is Charles A. Martinez, 24, who the agency said is also wanted on unrelated warrants for armed home invasion and false imprisonment charges.

"We believe Martinez was living here at least part time," Gee said outside the home.

The Sheriff's Office said that officers on Thursday evening had found near Dover the Mazda Protege that Martinez was believed to have been driving — but not Martinez himself.

"He's not a person of interest, but we are interested in speaking to him," said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

State records show Martinez has served prison time on convictions that included shooting into a building or vehicle. He was released a year ago.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts was asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200.

Carlisle Club Homeowner's Association president Joseph N. Desmarais said he recognized Martinez as someone he'd chastised for repeatedly parking in resident's spaces. Desmarais, 74, said Martinez visited the residents in 1528.

"I told him we've got open spots over there. You're a young fella, you can walk," Desmarais said. "Nothing like this has ever happened here before."

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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