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Friend of slain Hyde Park decorator found dead

Raul G. Lopez was the elegant and charming decorator who thrived in the whirl of south Tampa society.

Ronald G. Hypes was the calloused and tattooed roofer with a brief rap sheet of petty crimes.

All they had in common was an eight-year relationship and very bloody deaths.

Sometime Saturday, Lopez, 58, was savagely murdered, beaten repeatedly in the head with a roofer's hammer while he slept in the second-floor bedroom of his exquisite Hyde Park home at 816 S Delaware Ave.

His throat was slashed, Tampa police said, most likely by someone he knew well enough to invite into his home for a drink.

His body wasn't discovered until 9:30 a.m. Sunday, by which time Hypes, 33, had most likely shot himself to death in a forlorn motel room in St. Petersburg.

Hypes left a note to his estranged wife, Lisa, saying he was sorry. It made no mention of Lopez or the killing, authorities said.

Police could offer no substantial motive and were vague about the relationship between the two.

"They had a close personal relationship over eight years," Tampa police Maj. Ken Taylor said.

Hypes' body, still clutching the 20-gauge shotgun, lay in Murphy's Motel Rooms & Efficiencies at 4900 34th St. N, until about 5:40 p.m.

Sunday when an assistant manager called the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, saying he was having trouble rousing a guest.

The assistant manager unlocked the door but couldn't budge it because Hypes had jammed a chair under the handle. Deputies broke down the door and found Hypes lying on the bed. One shell was missing from a new box on the floor between the beds.

Although the detectives were not yet aware of the connection, Hypes, of 3310 Jackson St., was wearing a gold Cartier watch belonging to Lopez.

Several pawn tickets for other jewelry, also belonging to Lopez, were found in the room, police said.

The murder and the suicide weren't connected until Monday morning, when Lopez's stolen gold Mercedes-Benz 190 was found near the motel.

The robbery puzzled detectives.

"What motivates children to kill their parents and then pawn their things?" Taylor wondered. "What motivates a husband to kill his wife and then pawn some of her things?"

Hypes, who had tattoos of eagles on his biceps and a shark on his hip, had a record that included possession of marijuana and petty theft.

In July 1992, Hypes was arrested on charges of punching his then-girlfriend, Lisa Kim Goodale. The state attorney dropped the misdemeanor battery charge.

On Oct. 19 of that year, the couple married. The marriage did not last.

Goodale's brother, Brent, said Monday that they were separated and were living apart.

Nonetheless, "she's devastated by this whole thing," Goodale said.

Saturday's murder is a much more violent echo of a robbery at Lopez's home on June 27, 1993.

That evening, Lopez answered a knock at his outside gate to find a young man who had done some landscaping for him and a woman he didn't know. They asked for water to drink, and he invited them in.

When the woman asked directions to the bathroom, Kevin Landy, 26, grabbed Lopez from behind and stuck a knife to his throat. Lopez tried to resist, but Landy overpowered him, roughing him up in the process. Landy and his girlfriend cut the phone lines and bound Lopez's wrists with the cord. They tried to push him under the bed, but he wouldn't fit, so they lashed him to the leg of the dresser.

They stole his jewelry, including a gold Cartier watch, and pawned the items. They also stole Lopez's Mercedes-Benz.

Until they were caught in Corpus Christi, Texas, in a drug round-up, Lopez told detectives he was afraid for his life.

_ Times staff writers Jane Meinhardt, Craig Pittman, Wilma Norton, Stephen Hegarty and Mike Mahan contributed to this report.

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