Tuesday, August 14, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg police renew focus on 35-year-old murder

ST. PETERSBURG — The slaying of Joe Warner has been the focus of major attention twice: first, when the 44-year-old father of five and 22-year Air Force veteran was killed in 1982 and later, when it was featured on America's Most Wanted.

Now the St. Petersburg Police Department is hoping for another burst of attention that might finally lead to an arrest.

Warner, who was employed by Brink's, was shot outside Robinson's department store, now Dillard's, at Tyrone Square Mall, by two men dressed as Miami Elevator repairmen in a heist that Assistant Police Chief Jim Previtera called "what can only be described as a made-for-TV-plot."

Now Brink's is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Through new DNA technology, the police department's cold case unit has obtained information that could bring long-awaited answers.

Previtera said that over the years, the department worked with the FBI, Interpol and federal prisons in other states. He said they believe it could be linked to organized crime and the killers may not be from the area.

On Jan. 23, 1982, the two men loitered around Robinson's, Previtera said.

Shortly after 3 p.m., Warner arrived and picked up a satchel containing a deposit from Robinson's. As he was leaving, he was confronted by the men. Witnesses at the time said Warner yelled at them to "Get back!," Previtera said, before two shots were fired and Warner was killed.

The killers fled with the satchel and a black revolver and got into a white van that had been stolen two days earlier in Orlando. The van's tag had been stolen in Jacksonville. The two abandoned the van in a parking lot near the Jungle Prada boat ramp and got into a boat they rented in Indian Rocks Beach with a fraudulent license of a Canadian police officer. The boat was discovered two days later in Clearwater.

At some point the robbers must have realized the satchel contained mostly non-negotiable checks, which a fisherman found washed up near Madeira Beach.

"They killed Joseph Warner for nothing," Previtera said.

Later that year, America's Most Wanted aired the story. Brink's offered a $100,000 reward at the time for anyone with information leading to an arrest. Since then, Previtera said, the investigation has been hot and cold.

During the last year, the cold case unit picked up the case again. Through DNA-extracting technology that didn't exist at the time, the unit was able to create two new DNA profiles from the satchel and checks. The samples weren't enough to identify a suspect, Previtera said, but they did find they were of women.

Previtera said through the help of law enforcement in Santa Rosa County and in Tennessee, they've sought voluntary DNA samples of women believed to have been involved with the killers.

Previtera said police believe it could be linked with organized crime based out of South Boston. DNA samples are being compared with those who committed similar crimes, including members of the May 19th Communist Organization, the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, whose members robbed a Brink's vehicle of $1.6 million in cash and murdered three people in 1981 in New York.

Troy Kurtz, strategic marketing director for Brink's in Tampa Bay, said he hopes social media will help in asking for information.

"Joseph Warner was an honest, hardworking man who was viciously gunned down just trying to do his job," Kurtz said. "We need the help of the community."

Warner's wife, Mary, is now 79 and lives in Tampa. She never remarried.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Divya Kumar at [email protected] Follow @divyadivyadivya.

 
Comments
Hillsborough schools will begin disclosing more data about lead in drinking water

Hillsborough schools will begin disclosing more data about lead in drinking water

TAMPA ­­— The Hillsborough County School District will begin publicly disclosing all locations where it finds lead in schools’ water, not just the samples that tested highest, an official said Tuesday.Detailed results from the testing lab could begin...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

TAMPA —  It seems a little odd, but Tony Dungy is just now being installed in the Bucs' Ring of Honor, two years after his bust was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leave it to his former team.As if it matters to this man. Dungy...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shooter in Clearwater stand your ground case appears before judge

Shooter in Clearwater stand your ground case appears before judge

LARGO — Clad in orange jail scrubs, Michael Drejka made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon via video monitor, one day after he was arrested on a manslaughter charge in the shooting of Markeis McGlockton.The proceeding was brief and perfunct...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deputies: Pinellas County jail inmate died during surgery

Deputies: Pinellas County jail inmate died during surgery

ST. PETERSBURG — A jail inmate died Monday while undergoing surgery, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.Cesar Gonzales-Espana, 43, had suffered a medical episode at the Pinellas County jail on Saturday, the agency said, and was taken t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

State Vacuum and ‘Bernie Apestein’ may be waving goodbye to longtime location

For nearly 40 years, while wearing an eclectic mix of fashion, a mechanical gorilla has stood outside State Vacuum of Tampa, waving hello to Kennedy Boulevard motorists.His name is Bernie Apestein. "That gorilla has been a mainstay" said David Epstei...
Updated: 3 hours ago
MagneGas reports 200 percent hike in revenue for second quarter

MagneGas reports 200 percent hike in revenue for second quarter

MagneGas Corp., a Pinellas Park firm that makes a gas product used in metal working, reported a 201 percent spike in quarterly revenues on Tuesday. Its net loss increased from $2.2 million in the year-ago quarter to $3.5 million. Magnegas had $2.9 mi...
Updated: 3 hours ago

United KingdomCrash outside U.K. Parliament treated as terrorismPolice flooded central London streets and cordoned off the city’s government district Tuesday after a speeding car plowed into cyclists and crashed outside Parliament in what authorities...
Updated: 3 hours ago
A judge saw this video before denying stand your ground claim by Hillsborough sheriff’s son

A judge saw this video before denying stand your ground claim by Hillsborough sheriff’s son

TAMPA — George Zachary Chronister may have feared embarrassment when he used a knife to slash and stab another man during a 2017 brawl.But he wasn’t in fear for his life and well-being, a judge ruled Tuesday.Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nas...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 4 hours ago
After Maryland, FSU’s Walt Bell excited to be in ‘family atmosphere’

After Maryland, FSU’s Walt Bell excited to be in ‘family atmosphere’

BRADENTON — New FSU offensive coordinator Walt Bell approached reporters Tuesday morning at IMG Academy seemingly resigned to the fact two subjects would arise: the Seminoles' quarterback derby and the ugly allegations surrounding Maryland...
Updated: 4 hours ago