Beryl White had taken out a restraining order she hoped would keep her husband away. But as she slept in her apartment last week, police say, he shattered a back window and climbed inside.
She ran out the front door in her nightgown, making it as far as the sidewalk before her husband caught her. She told police Dennis White said three words _ "I love you" _ before he stabbed her in the throat and back. She collapsed, saying, "Help me," as neighbors called 911.
Dennis White fled from the North Boulevard Homes apartment to nearby Riverfront Park, where he stood near the soccer field and slit his own throat. He lived. He and his wife were taken to separate hospitals after Thursday's early morning incident. She is recovering, police said. White was booked into jail Friday.
There was more. On Sunday, neighbors of the nearby apartment where Dennis White, 34, had been staying while separated from his wife called police to say they had not seen his roommate, Robert Weaver, for several days. Police officers, smelling a strong odor, called the Fire Department to break down the door.
Neighbor Tameka Gant, 24, said as soon as the door opened, she could smell death.
"I said, "No, no, not Pop!' " Gant said, giving the nickname she used for the 58-year-old Weaver, a man she described as a nice person who looked after neighborhood kids.
Monday, police charged Dennis White in Weaver's death, saying he confessed to stabbing his roommate in the neck some time after midnight Wednesday, about three hours before he attacked his wife.
White told police he and Weaver were talking inside Weaver's apartment at 1135 W Main St. when White "just snapped," said Tampa police spokeswoman Katie Hughes.
After killing Weaver, White went to his wife's apartment on Green Street shortly after 3 a.m. Thursday, Hughes said.
He climbed up a back stairwell and shattered a rear window, cutting himself badly as he crawled through.
White's two children, who were home, were not hurt.
Neighbors said Thursday's incident was not the first time White had broken into the apartment of his wife, 45.
The couple were married Dec. 15, records show. Five days later, he beat her with a closed fist, she alleged in a petition for a temporary restraining order. Dennis White, who was unemployed, beat her when she objected to his taking money that was a Christmas gift to her children, she said.
Records show the temporary order was served on Dennis White on Jan. 31. White, who has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions for burglary, grand theft, battery, robbery and possession of cocaine, was ordered not to have contact with his wife.
Yet on Feb. 4, police said, White broke a window to his wife's apartment, and she and the children fled out the front door. They made it to the apartment of their downstairs neighbor, Martha Lewis, who let them in.
"After that, she stayed gone a month," said Lewis, 75. "She had just started coming back" to her apartment when he attacked her Thursday, Lewis said.
A week after the Feb. 4 intrusion, a judge extended Beryl White's restraining order against her husband for a year, but Dennis White had not yet been served with the second order.
When she heard the crash of breaking glass Thursday, Lewis again opened her front door and urged her neighbor, whom she described as a quiet woman, to come inside.
Instead, she said, Beryl White collapsed on the ground. Lewis ran for towels, one to stanch the flow of blood, and one to cushion her neighbor's head as she lay on the concrete.
_ Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Amy Herdy can be reached at 226-3386 or herdysptimes.com.