Man charged in slaying of beach hair stylist

Published May 28, 1997|Updated Oct. 1, 2005

A hair stylist who has cut hair in beach communities for years was found dead Tuesday afternoon in the apartment above her beauty salon.

Late Tuesday night, authorities arrested a resident of the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines and charged him with first-degree murder.

Jon Anthony Owens, 36, was being held without bail in the fatal stabbing of Ernestine Baker Demonge, 65, authorities said.

He told authorities in an interview that he had been dating Demonge for about seven months. They got into an argument and she started calling him names, he said, so he picked up a knife, Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said.

It was a roundabout way that deputies found Demonge and Owens.

After 11 p.m. Monday, a man living at the VA center called his mother to tell her he had hurt or planned to hurt someone at Tina's Beauty Salon in Madeira Beach. The mother, who lives out of state, called Bay Pines police Tuesday afternoon.

Bay Pines police called the Sheriff's Office, whose deputies discovered Demonge dead in her utility room, with what they think was the murder weapon, about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Pinellas sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha declined to release the cause of death or to say when Demonge, 65, was killed.

Soon after the body was discovered, the man who had called his mother was found at Bay Pines. He was taken into custody for questioning and apparently was coopering with authorities.

Pasha said the suspect and Demonge knew each other. Several neighbors reported hearing an argument Sunday night. To them, it was not that unusual.

"She was a lonely old soul, but she had a good heart," said Loretta Nauth, who added that Demonge gave her a permanent last week.