Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two of four suspects in fatal South Tampa fire arrested

TAMPA — Authorities have arrested two men on murder charges in connection with a robbery and fire last week that left a South Tampa man dead.

Kermit Lee Sanford, 34, was arrested Saturday night by Polk County deputies. Tanner Blake Harrison, 19, was arrested Sunday morning by Orange County deputies.

Tampa police had issued warrants for their arrests Saturday afternoon, identifying them as two of four suspects in the death of Richard Lee Blackman, 65.

The men entered the home at 6709 Interbay Blvd. early Thursday morning to rob Blackman, police said. They attacked him and stole items before setting the house on fire.

"It's not clear if the victim knew these two individuals," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "We believe the motive was they went there to rob Blackman, but as far as why they targeted him, that is still under investigation."

Sanford and Harrison, both of Polk County, were identified as suspects through physical evidence, witness statements and other leads, McElroy said.

Last week, police released surveillance images of a woman taken at a nearby Circle K convenience store at the time of the crime. The woman told the clerk she was from Lakeland, police said. Investigators later located her, but did not say what, if anything, she knew about the crime.

Authorities have not revealed the names of the other two people they believe are suspects. Detectives were trying to find the suspects, but had not issued warrants for them, McElroy said.

Records show Harrison was previously arrested in Polk County on drug and misdemeanor charges.

Sanford was released from Avon Park Correctional Institution on Aug. 1, according to the state Department of Corrections. In and out of prison since 1993, his arrests, most of which occurred in Polk, include felony burglary and grand theft auto.

Sanford's profile page on Facebook includes a photo of him wearing what appears to be a prison uniform while standing next to Rosealey Sanford, whom he wrote he had married in July.

The page included recent updates that appear to have been posted by someone else under his name. One posted Sunday night reads: "i love you kermit. every thing will be okay. keep your head up. we will get though this together. till death do us part."

Kermit Sanford's grandfather, William Jewell, told a reporter Sunday in a phone interview that his grandson was wanted only for questioning.

He said he heard from Sanford a week ago, and Sanford was supposed to stay at the house while Jewell underwent an operation. But his grandson never showed.

"He didn't tell me nothing," Jewell said. "He told me I was going to see him when I got back."

Asked about the warrant for Sanford's arrest, Jewell said he didn't know anything about it.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443. Dan Sullivan can be reached at dsullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3321.

Two of four suspects in fatal South Tampa fire arrested 09/25/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 25, 2011 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  2. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  4. Swan sculpture deputies say was stolen by naked man found near Lakeland pond

    Crime

    A $25,000 swan sculpture that Polk County sheriff's deputies say was stolen by a naked man last weekend was found near a pond in Lakeland on Thursday.

    A swan sculpture that was stolen in Lakeland on May 19 was recovered by the Polk Sheriff’s Office on Friday.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally