Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UF freshman from Tampa found dead by friends in Madeira Beach condo

TAMPA — Molly Ammon got great grades, went on mission trips and baked for classmates' birthdays. Friends remember her hearty laugh. Her mother can hardly recall fighting with her 19-year-old daughter.

Still, Angie Ammon worried. She knew her underage daughter drank alcohol at parties.

The mother tried talking to Molly. She made sure to record a recent episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit that depicted someone's death by alcohol poisoning. Molly and her friends watched it.

Molly Ammon was found dead Sunday morning after a night drinking with friends at a Madeira Beach condominium, where the University of Florida freshman was spending a spring break weekend.

Her parents say the group had been drinking alcohol, though authorities have not yet ruled on a cause of death.

"I think society has taught kids so well to not drink and drive," Angie Ammon said Monday night, huddled in a blanket on a couch in her Beach Park home. "But they don't realize that it can be dangerous to drink and stay at home."

Friends and family — even the mayor of Tampa, Pam Iorio, who lived near the family for years — spoke highly of a young woman who made everyone feel special.

About 200 people have dropped by the family's home and dozens more have called.

"It's such an awful tragedy that it's hard for everyone to even absorb it," Iorio said. "Molly was a beautiful young woman, full of life. This is absolutely devastating."

One of Molly's friends from Plant High School, Meredith Kelley, bought a plane ticket from Colorado as soon as she heard the news Sunday.

"Molly showed us all how to laugh at ourselves," Meredith said. "She had such energy. Everyone wanted to be near her."

Molly loved baking and would regularly whip up brownies or cookies. She would drop whatever she was doing if Meredith needed a ride to work, and she kept in touch with longtime friends, even after they moved.

She planned to wear a long, white satin dress for the upcoming Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla's annual King's Debutante Ball. "We just picked it out," Angie Ammon said. "It was beautiful."

Molly's outgoing personality followed her to Gainesville.

She chose UF, though she came from a family of Florida State University graduates, and she joined the Tri Delta sorority.

Grief counselors are on hand to speak to the sorority sisters, and the national Tri Delta Fraternity issued a statement of condolence.

Dozens of messages poured onto Molly's Facebook wall:

Molly Ammon, your laugh was unforgettable and you will never be forgotten. I love you and miss you already.

— Shelby Frantz

Molly Ammon. You are the most amazing, beautiful, and genuine person I know. You have so many people that truly love you and care for you and that is just a testimony to what an exceptional woman you are.

— Tori Kreher

And from her older sister, Katie Ammon, 21:

Sisters by chance, friends by choice. Molly you were, ARE, and WILL ALWAYS BE not only the best sister but the best friend i have ever had. i love you more than words can say molly and i'm going to love you and miss you everyday for the rest of my life.

Across UF's campus, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity repainted the base of its emblematic lion statue. It reads, "In loving memory of Molly Ammon." Another fraternity hung a banner in her honor.

Though the Ammons won't be certain of the cause of their daughter's death until a toxicology report is done, Angie Ammon wants to spread the message that alcohol can be dangerous.

"Everyone's life will never be the same without her," she said.

When it comes to alcohol, knowing when to stop drinking is not an exact science. That's what can make excessive drinking so dangerous, explained Lee Dorpfeld, a licensed mental health counselor and substance abuse adviser at the University of South Florida.

How much alcohol a person can tolerate hinges on traits such as height, weight and health conditions. Other factors include the number of drinks and how quickly they are consumed.

Even being stressed out and overly tired can affect the metabolism of alcohol, he said.

Angie Ammon said her daughter's friend who was with Molly that night blames herself, but the mother doesn't. Though Angie Ammon and her husband, Robert Ammon, are overwhelmed with grief, they say they feel no anger.

Friends and family have surrounded them and provide a distraction from the pain.

The funeral will be Thursday.

Times news researcher John Martin and staff writer Letitia Stein contributed to this report.

Funeral arrangements

A service for Molly Ammon will be held 10 a.m. Thursday at Christ the King Catholic Church, 821 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.

UF freshman from Tampa found dead by friends in Madeira Beach condo 03/14/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2011 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Drought forces tougher watering restrictions on Tampa Bay

    Water

    Homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will be limited to watering their lawns only once a week under new, tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    A fallen pine tree burns and smolders in a section of pine flatwoods earlier this month in the Starkey Wilderness Preserve in Pasco County. Drought conditions have helped spark wildfires across the state. Now homeowners in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties will face tighter watering restrictions imposed Tuesday by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Sharing extreme views, neo-Nazis sometimes convert to radical Islam

    Crime

    It sounds like an unlikely leap of faith: a neo-Nazi converting to Islamic extremism.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach

    Retail

    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Bomb experts say materials at Tampa Palms murder scene were meant to kill

    News

    TAMPA — Easily obtainable chemicals and equipment that investigators found at the scene of a double murder in Tampa Palms were assembled for one purpose, according to explosives experts: To create an improvised explosive device that could kill people and destroy property.

    Authorities search a vehicle late Sunday in Key Largo after arresting Brandon Russell of Tampa, who is not pictured. Russell faces federal explosives charges after Tampa police investigating a double homicide found bomb materials in his Tampa Palms apartment. [Photo courtesy of Kevin Wadlow, FlKeysNews.com]
  5. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall" bill

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]