Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man squatting in Holiday home dies in accidental fire

HOLIDAY — When he wasn't incarcerated or living in the woods, Wyatt Vanover had a fondness for squatting in homes that weren't his, authorities said. It appears that since his latest release from the Pasco jail on Dec. 3, where the 59-year-old had been held on a DUI charge, Vanover was living at the Holiday home of a Michigan snowbird too sick to travel south for the winter.

In recent weeks, neighbors noticed the electricity turned on, the pool pump pumping. Then, on Sunday, they smelled smoke.

The house was on fire.

Vanover's body was found inside the charred home. Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin said the cause of the fire was under investigation but appears to have begun in the kitchen, perhaps by something left on the stove.

"The fire, at this point, appears accidental," Tobin said. The medical examiner will determine Vanover's cause of death, he said.

Vanover, who also went by the surnames of Vancoover, Vancouver and Vancover, had a long history of violent convictions, such as battery on law enforcement officers, resisting arrest and domestic battery, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records say. In March, authorities say, he threatened two roommates with a knife and said he would kill their cat. No one was hurt. Vanover served three months in jail.

The house at 2647 Flintwood Drive is owned by Lorraine Martin Breitkreuz, who is 79 and soon to undergo back surgery in Michigan. She bought the house more than 30 years ago with her first husband, Robert Martin. They loved the tile roof and the back yard facing quiet, beautiful woods. The neighbors became dear friends. The Martins lived there full-time and had an insurance agency. Then Robert died in 1990 and Lorraine returned to Michigan. There, she began dating Hugo Breitkreuz, an old friend. They were married 17 years and spent winters at the Holiday home. He died two years ago.

Mrs. Breitkreuz doesn't think she will rebuild. The neighborhood has changed. Part of the woods was cleared for a road behind their home. It can be noisy from traffic. Many of the neighbors have died or moved in with their children.

On Monday, she couldn't remember dates or the things she lost in the fire, photos, mementos. It was too overwhelming.

"It's very upsetting right now," she said.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Man squatting in Holiday home dies in accidental fire 01/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 7, 2013 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun


    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  2. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change


    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  3. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  4. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  5. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]