A 24-year-old Michigan man has been charged with killing an Invernesswidow who authorities think recently had befriended him.
Citrus Sheriff's investigators arrested Michael Owen Saffell Wednesday in his hometown of Coloma, Mich. Citrus authorities had followed him to Michigan and met him in a local tavern, where he admitted to an undercover investigator that he ran over the widow, Glenna Whipp, and left her for dead.
Saffell, a tree trimmer, had lived off Bow-N-Arrow Loop in Inverness since 1988. He has been charged with first-degree murder, and investigators will bring him to Citrus County on Saturday.
The 66-year-old Mrs. Whipp, called the "Dog Lady" by neighbors because she kept 11 dogs in her Inverness home, was known to help people down on their luck. "She catered to the underdog, as some people say," Lt. Henry Wilkins explained.
Sheriff's officials say Saffell was one of the people she had befriended. Saffell apparently did work for Mrs. Whipp at her home, 3723 E Beck St., but it was unclear how long the two had known each other.
Three boys found Mrs. Whipp's body Jan. 28 in an illegal garbage dump north of Hernando. The boys said that the body was clothed, but that the woman's head had been severely injured.
Wilkins declined to give a detailed description of what happened, other than to say Saffell allegedly drove Mrs. Whipp to the dump, ran over her with her own car, then drove back to Inverness. The car was found several blocks from Mrs. Whipp's house.
Investigators have physical evidence that links the car with the death, Wilkins said.
Robbery was the apparent motive for the killing, officials said.
Relatives said Mrs. Whipp recently received about $20,000, perhaps from a land deal, and she had spent all but about $4,000 of it.
Investigators say Saffell took an undisclosed amount of money.
Investigators suspected Saffell because he was the last person seen with Mrs. Whipp on Jan. 24. Saffell left town Feb. 3, before investigators could talk to him, Wilkins said.
On Feb. 8, the Sheriff's Office sent investigators Michael Joyner, Marvin Padgett and Jerry Thompson to Michigan. With the help of the Berrien County Sheriff's Office and the Michigan State Police, the investigators met up with Saffell.
Joyner talked to Saffell twice in a Coloma tavern. During those
conversations, Wilkins said, Saffell boasted that he ran over Mrs. Whipp and left her for dead. Joyner was wearing a hidden microphone both times.