Zephyrhills retiree Leo Cote spent most of his life on the road, traveling the United States and driving a truck for a living.
His last road trip to visit relatives with girlfriend Lucy Burke turned tragic early Sunday when Cote, 65, was clubbed to death on rural U.S. 80 in Montgomery, Ala.
On Monday, police arrested Homer Lee Sellers, 36, of Montgomery, at 3:25 p.m. after tips from people who saw his picture and the weapon he is accused of using on television, said Montgomery police Lt. D. T. Marshall.
Sellers faces a capital murder charge, which is punishable by death in the electric chair or life in prison without parole. Sellers, who was on parole for burglary and theft convictions, is being held in Montgomery County Jail without bail.
Police say Sellers was driving a Cadillac when he bumped Cote's burgundy Oldsmobile just before 2 a.m. Sunday. When the drivers pulled over, Sellers approached Cote's car, jerked open the front door and bludgeoned him with a three-foot club. Burke, who had dated Cote about five years, was not harmed.
"I can't believe he fell for it," said Roger Cote, the Shreveport, La., brother Leo planned to visit first. "It was just one moment when he was caught off guard and this happens."
Sellers took money from Burke's purse and Cote's wallet and sped off, leaving the whittled tree limb next to the car. Police say Sellers, traveling the wrong direction on U.S. 80, almost hit a truck driver, who called 911.
Cote, who lived in a Zephyrhills retirement community, was dead by the time he was taken to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery.
Marshall said the four-lane highway where Cote was killed would not have been busy at that time of night. Coincidentally, Marshall said, a state capital police officer was inspecting a state building and saw Sellers driving the wrong way. The officer thought Sellers was drunk and tried to catch him but couldn't.
Roger Cote said his brother planned to stay in Shreveport for a couple of days and then drive to Washington state to visit more relatives for the rest of the summer.
The Cotes grew up on a farm in Limestone, Maine, where the wake and funeral will be held later this week. Leo Cote, who had lived in Florida about three years, was the oldest of 22 children.
_ A version of this story was published Tuesday in some editions.