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Motive for man's slaying gets murkier

Detectives say robbery probably was not the motive behind the mysterious slaying of a 56-year-old man who lived in a quiet, palm-tree-lined neighborhood near Lake Tarpon.

That opens the possibility that David J. Lunz might have known his attacker, said Pinellas County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita.

Investigators "are reconsidering the motive was robbery because there were valuables left in plain view that were not taken or touched," Tita said Monday. "So far, it's a whodunit."

Forensic investigators spent the day looking for clues at Lunz's home at 3279 Parkway Place in the Sunshine Estates neighborhood. At one point, two investigators focused on Lunz's front door and appeared to be looking for fingerprints. Detectives also talked to friends and co-workers, Tita said.

Lunz was found dead in his home at 8:30 p.m. Saturday after neighbors became concerned when they noticed several newspapers in his driveway. There were no signs that anyone had forced his or her way into the house. Investigators say Lunz died of trauma to his upper body.

Neighbors say Lunz was muscular, lifted weights in a room at the back of his house and spent nearly every weekend doing lawn work. His front yard is neatly landscaped with plants, a decorative fountain and a small street lamp.

"He spent a lot of time on that yard," said neighbor Claude A. Henley, 81. "He was a heck of a nice fella."

During the week, Lunz usually left his house on his way to work before the newspaper was delivered, residents said. On the weekends, he would pick up a neighbor's paper from her driveway and bring it to her front porch.

Lunz worked in the machine shop of Aerosonic, a company in Clearwater that builds aircraft instruments. The company had a moment of silence for Lunz on Monday about 11 a.m., said Mark Perkins, the company's executive vice president.

"He always seemed to be working hard and very dependable," Perkins said. "It was a real shock to us and a real loss."

Neighbors and friends say Lunz had spent a lot of time caring for his wife, Laura, who died in February after a long battle with cancer. She had retired as an insurance claims adjustor after 33 years and had worked for Travelers Insurance in New York and First Floridian Insurance in Tampa.

The couple moved to Palm Harbor in 1998 from Delevan, N.Y., and belonged to St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Palm Harbor.

When Lunz moved into the neighborhood, he put weightlifting equipment in a room at the back of his new home, said Donald LaBarge, 62, of Spring Hill, who sold Lunz the house.

"When he first came in, I thought he was 20 years old," LaBarge said. "He had a body and a half. They came to the house real polite. They were just nice people."

After the neighbors noticed several newspapers in Lunz's driveway, a neighbor went to check on him. She heard the television and the barking of his dog, Max. The front door also was unlocked.

News of Lunz's death unsettled the neighborhood. Some neighbors said they were worried that the attack was random.

"It's always been quiet here," Henley said. "Until this happened."

_ Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4185 or quiocosptimes.com.

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