Blood stains found in the home of a missing St. Petersburg Times employee and in the trunk of her car have led authorities to believe she might have been dumped somewhere between Ocala and New Jersey before a man suspected of abducting her committed suicide in front of New Jersey police Tuesday.
Investigators who searched Dorothy "Dottie" Grant's home in Silver Springs said they found blood on the nightstand in her bedroom, on the bedroom carpet, in the master bedroom closet and on the walls in the hallway. An 18-square-inch pool of blood was found in the living room.
Grant, 54, supervised 14 newspaper carriers and was a district manager for home delivery in eastern Citrus County. She was reported missing Oct. 8, when she didn't come to work and employees became worried.
Marion County Assistant State Attorney Jim Phillips said the prime suspect in Grant's disappearance, Russell "Charlie" Miller, 34, shot himself in the chest with a rifle early Tuesday as Piscataway, N.J., officers approached him in a rural area. Miller was in Grant's red Nissan Sentra at the time.
New Jersey officers searched the car and found the front and back seats stuffed with clothing and boxes of what appeared to be Miller's personal belongings. The trunk of the car was empty except for a pool of blood, Phillips said.
"He was so cramped in that car he could barely drive," Phillips said. "So, something was apparently in the trunk while he was packing, which he later took out, which left blood.
"It's conceivable she (Grant) might have lived. He might have dumped her out and she might have crawled back to the road and gotten help if she didn't lose too much blood. We're hoping for the best, but assuming the worst," Phillips said.
Miller was a guest at Grant's home at the time she disappeared. Friends say Grant was allowing Miller to live with her as a favor to Miller's mother, a longtime friend who lives in New Jersey. But Grant was preparing to make Miller leave, because she said he was on drugs and alcohol. None of Miller's belongings were found in the house, according to police.
Phillips said someone had tried unsuccessfully to clean the large bloody spot in the living room carpet. Someone also tried to clean much of the blood that was smeared on the walls. But detectives sprayed the chemical Luminol throughout the house at night, and all areas where blood had been turned blue, he said.
"She might have fallen or leaned against the walls and he may have dragged her throughout the house, but she certainly laid in the living room for a while and lost a lot of blood," Phillips said.
"It (the house) had been cleaned up a lot, but there was certainly enough blood to know it wasn't an accident where she fell down and hit her head or something. Technically she could be alive, but it's not likely," he said.
Marion County sheriff's officials had said earlier that one of Grant's dogs was found locked in a kitchen closet and the other two were loose in the kitchen with a supply of food and water. Authorities initially also said the house was found immaculate.
Miller was wanted on two counts of grand theft and one count of forgery. Police say Miller's driver's license was suspended and he also had put West Virginia license tags on Grant's Nissan.
Grant's relatives said she owned three guns, which she kept in the house, according to an affidavit for Miller's arrest warrant. Police found no guns inside the house.