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Man's pent-up rage cited in murder-suicide

Elgin Boykin stewed for four years.

Upset about a business deal gone sour, Boykin harbored resentment against his former partner, Lawrence Goodwin.

Boykin also became paranoid, thinking that Goodwin was following him and spreading lies about him, police said.

Boykin ultimately reached a breaking point. He got a shotgun. He scribbled notes saying goodbye. And it appears he went looking for Goodwin.

Boykin found Goodwin on the morning of Feb. 28 near the Clearwater post office at Cleveland Street and Belcher Road. Witnesses reported seeing Boykin ramming Goodwin's Cadillac, at one point pushing it through a red light. Boykin then forced Goodwin off the road at Cleveland and Jupiter Avenue.

He got out of his truck, the shotgun in his arms. He pumped three rounds into the driver's side window, shattering the glass and killing his former partner. Boykin then turned the gun on himself, taking his life with a single blast to the head.

"I haven't found one person who said anything bad about this guy," Detective Steve Bohling said of Boykin. "He was a very even-keeled guy in the past, easy to get along with. He would walk away from a problem. It's totally unlike his nature."

The detective said Goodwin, 63, and Boykin, 34, met in the 1980s. Boykin attended Clearwater High School with Goodwin's son. Goodwin and Boykin became family friends, even after Boykin transferred to Dunedin High School.

Goodwin had made money in business. A retired attorney, he also wrote a book on his view of varied social issues.

In 1997, Goodwin helped Boykin launch a business, Lawn Groomers Inc., in Clearwater. Though Boykin was listed as the president of the company in corporate records, Goodwin was the brains of the business, handling all the books. Boykin supervised work crews in the field.

Bohling said there are conflicting stories as to why the business collapsed, but it was not amicable.

After Boykin walked away, he worked a couple of jobs, and also ran a part-time landscaping business.

Goodwin, meanwhile, launched a number of corporations in Florida, but didn't appear to be having much success.

Bohling said Boykin thought Goodwin was stalking him.

"He felt he was trying to make his life miserable by telling anyone he had contact with, like other employers, that he wasn't a good guy, that he screwed up the business and just wasn't trustworthy," Bohling said.

Bohling said he doesn't know where Boykin got the shotgun. No one close to him knew he had it. He didn't typically carry a gun in his truck, which makes Bohling think the act may have been premeditated. Then Bohling found the notes Boykin left.

"Parts of those letters indicated he was saying goodbye," he said.