TAMPA — A day after David Wynn Hope III was found dead in his east Tampa home, a friend who lives there said she doesn't know what could have happened.
Less than 2 miles away, a neighbor said David Charles Filer, also found dead Sunday night, was a happy man in a quiet neighborhood.
Police said they don't know whether the two deaths are related, but say neither appears random. Police believe each victim knew his killer or killers. Both died Sunday from upper-body trauma, police said.
Hope's body was discovered about 9 p.m. at his home at 10614 Altman St. N.
Early Monday, with a scrap of crime scene tape still hanging from the chain-link fence bordering the house, Christie Archer said she lived there with Hope, 71, for at least six months.
"We didn't know who would do it to him," Archer said. "He's a nice guy."
Archer said another friend had come by to bring him dinner when the friend found him dead.
Inside, a blanket covered where Archer said Hope was found, and where she tried to scrub the carpet. She had tried not to let her sons, ages 2 and 5, see the body.
"We were crying," Archer said. "We cried all night."
Archer said Hope was retired, and his wife, who used a wheelchair ramp at the front door, died two months ago. Hope also was disabled, records show.
Arrest records show several drug-related charges against Hope. In 2000, a charge of forgery to get prescription drugs was dropped. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to possession of morphine pills. In 2006, he was convicted for possession of prescription drugs with intent to sell.
In the 1980s, in a case that made headlines at the time, Hope was a drug dealer given probation instead of prison in exchange for a bribe accepted by former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Arden Mays Merckle.
The judge resigned in 1983 following a series of articles in the Tampa Tribune about the bribe. He was sentenced to prison.
About 30 minutes before Hope's death was reported, a roommate found Filer, 55, dead in his home at 2018 Seward St. E.
Neighbor Grashoncra Griffin said people frequented Filer's house, including a girlfriend at some point and his two daughters with their boyfriends. Griffin said she sometimes heard arguing, but never in Filer's voice.
"Every time I heard him he was just a happy person," she said.
Griffin recalled knocking on his door seeking a cup of milk. He lent her a gallon. When her boyfriend needed jumper cables for his car, someone at Filer's house was there to help.
Griffin, 24, has always lived in the house next door to Filer.
"I can count on one hand the serious situations that have happened in that neighborhood," she said. "It's a quiet neighborhood."
Police aren't naming a suspect in either case or releasing the circumstances of the deaths.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.