Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa slaying victim was on road to recovery, spent life helping others

TAMPA — It was a cool, breezy night Jan. 14, so William "Bill" Denham decided he would take a walk down the familiar tree-covered streets of his Old Seminole Heights neighborhood.

He walked alone to a nearby Walmart and bought a few frozen dinners, stopped by his old house on E Paris Street, then headed toward the small, white wood-framed house on E Crenshaw Street he bought in November with Dan Kane, his partner of 30 years.

He never made it there.

On the way, sometime after 10 p.m., the 53-year-old Denham was punched and beaten to death by two men and a woman at the intersection of N 15th and E Elm streets, police said.

Just blocks away, Kane was at his home on Hilton Place, preparing to move in with Denham.

"I've always felt safe in that neighborhood and have walked down those streets myself, but now it's very scary to know something like this happened when he was just walking home," said Kane.

A passing motorist called Tampa police to report that a man had been left unconscious in the road with no identification, his Walmart bags at his side, Kane said. It was about 2:30 a.m. when police finally identified Denham and knocked on Kane's door.

"His whole life was helping other people," Kane said. "He didn't deserve this."

Denham was light-hearted and kind, a prankster with a great memory who loved Boston Kremes at Dunkin' Donuts and his two chihuahuas, Ava and Paco. In the late 1980s, he left his three sisters and mother in Pennsauken, N.J., and moved to Florida with Kane and his best friend since seventh grade, John Layer.

With a degree in social work from the University of South Florida, Denham spent most of his life working as a counselor at agencies including the Tampa AIDS Network and DACCO, as well as local methadone clinics. But the work was stressful and Denham burned out, Layer said. He made money flipping houses and waiting tables, recently on an overnight shift at Three Coins Diner on Nebraska Avenue.

His struggle with addiction led to a string of arrests in Hillsborough County, but he found success in faith-based recovery programs and was a devout Christian. The Friday before he died, Denham said he wanted to return to social work and asked for help updating his resume, Kane said.

"He was such a ray of sunshine, and would call me up to talk about spiritual matters and what the Bible has to say about life and his love for life and the Lord," Denham said. "I'll really miss that."

Tampa police said they are still searching for the three assailants, who were seen walking south on N 15th Street after the attack. Witnesses described them as white or Hispanic. One man was in a black short-sleeve shirt, appeared to be in his 20s, and was just under 6 feet tall with a stocky build and brown, scruffy facial hair. The woman had long black hair, witnesses said.

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to arrests; call 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously at crimestopperstb.com or use the P3 Tips mobile app.

Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

Tampa slaying victim was on road to recovery, spent life helping others 01/20/17 [Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2017 8:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.