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Man is charged with killing recruiter

The man charged with killing an Air Force recruiter in a Tampa motel last February moved in with the victim's widow two months after the slaying, police said. Theodore John Bass, 25, of Davie, was arrested Tuesday and charged with the Feb. 3 shooting death of Donald Spaide, 30, as Spaide waited for an elevator at the Ramada Inn in Tampa.

Bass, who knew the Spaides and had babysat their two children, persuaded Dominique Spaide to let him move in with her near the end of March, Tampa police Sgt. Harold Sells said.

"He convinced her that she could put her past behind her and that he'd take care of her," Sells said.

Bass stayed with Spaide occasionally and kept some of his belongings on her porch, Sells said. Other times he would live out of his car, a 1986 Hyundai, because his parents had kicked him out of their house, he said.

His father, Leslie J. Bass, a former Broward County sheriff's deputy, said his son had moved about a month ago. He said he didn't know where he was staying.

Davie police arrested Bass as he walked home from his all-night cashier's job at a Mobil mini-market just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The arrest came after a car repossessor found a letter in Bass' car implicating Bass in Spaide's death, police said.

Although she has a relationship with Bass, Dominique Spaide does not appear to be an accomplice to the killing, Sells said.

Detectives will look into any correspondence between Bass and Dominique Spaide before the murder, but police are not trying to build a case against her, he said.

Police said they believe Bass followed the Spaides to the Ramada Inn at Busch Boulevard and Interstate 275. The family was staying the night in Tampa on the way to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, where Donald Spaide had accepted a job as the base's publicity director.

Just before 1 a.m. that night, Donald Spaide was returning to the motel room with medicine for his wife, who was sick. As he waited for an elevator on the first floor, he was shot once in the back of the head with a handgun, Sells said.

Investigators knew about the connection between Bass and the family soon after the killing, but they were unable to rule robbery out as a motive, Sells said.