Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woman found dead in canal behind New Port Richey home

Rose Vrehopoulou, right, and Carmela Gavinelli talk about the sudden death of longtime friend Vickie Petrakis. 


Rose Vrehopoulou, right, and Carmela Gavinelli talk about the sudden death of longtime friend Vickie Petrakis. 

NEW PORT RICHEY — Rose Vrehopoulou got a call from her longtime friend last week.

"What day do you want to go shopping?" asked Vickie Petrakis, 76.

"Tuesday," Vrehopoulou, 85, told her over the phone.

That was the last time they spoke.

So she was puzzled Monday morning when she saw Petrakis' car sitting in the driveway of Vrehopoulou's home at 5003 Forecastle Drive in Gulf Harbors, a west Pasco neighborhood where canals are as plentiful as streets. Petrakis was a day early. And nowhere to be found.

Vrehopoulou called Petrakis' husband, James.

"Your car is in my driveway," she told him. "Where is your wife?"

James Petrakis came to look for her. They checked across the street at Salome Prencipe's house. Prencipe hadn't seen her, either.

"Did you check the canal?" she asked.

At about 11:40 a.m., the small search party walked back to Vrehopoulou's house, to the canal behind it. From the dock, Prencipe said, they saw Petrakis at the bottom.

Authorities arrived and pulled her body from the water.

It remains unclear why Petrakis went to her friend's house that morning and how she made it into the water. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said there were no obvious signs of foul play but they were still investigating. James Petrakis declined to speak to reporters.

Vrehopoulou and Petrakis, who lived several miles away at 2624 Tottenham Drive, had been friends for years. Both Greek, they bonded over coffee and shopping trips. Vrehopoulou doesn't drive, so Petrakis would take her and her sisters on errands. Neighbors called the group the Golden Girls.

Carmela Gavinelli, 76, called Vrehopoulou to the edge of the sheriff's line tape that circled the yard so she could ask her what happened. They hugged. Vrehopoulou buried her face in her friend's shoulder.

Alex Orlando can be reached at or at (727) 869-6247.

Woman found dead in canal behind New Port Richey home 12/10/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 10, 2012 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986


    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  2. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings


    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  3. Review: More than 20 years later, 'RENT' still matters


    TAMPA — Two decades after Rent shook up Broadway with a starkly joyous musical that demanded to be recognized, a nostalgic tour is taking audiences back.

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Dennis Miller, headed to Tampa with Bill O'Reilly: 'We don't know each other that well'


    Dennis Miller often gets cast as the odd comic out these days.

    Dennis Miller will perform with Bill O'Reilly at the Spin Stops Here Tour at Amalie Arena in Tampa. [Spuffy Productions]
  5. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home.