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Couple dead for several days identified

Police on Wednesday released the identities of the couple found dead in their mobile home the day before and turned their attention to finding the third member of the household: the dead man's son.

Zephyrhills police worked with law enforcement from Georgia, where the son, Kyle Thomas, 27, lived before he moved to Florida some months ago. His father, Craig Allen Thomas, 54, was found dead in the mobile home at 38059 Lawanda Loop on Tuesday morning along with Irene Rita Martin, 45.

Kyle Thomas was described by Zephyrhills police Chief Russell Barnes as a "person of interest."

"He could be a suspect; he could be a witness; he could be an unfound victim," Barnes said. "But first we need to find him."

Barnes said there was a warrant out for Kyle Thomas' arrest in Georgia, but that it was not for a violent crime. The younger Thomas was convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana offense and received probation, Barnes said. A criminal traffic offense resulted in his violating his probation and that resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest.

Kyle Thomas lived in the Zephyrhills area for at least two months and worked for a time at the Clock Restaurant in town, Barnes said. He stopped showing up for work around Christmas and effectively got fired.

Though police have not determined the exact date of death, it appears likely that the couple was dead perhaps since a day or so after Christmas.

In addition to looking for Kyle Thomas, police are looking for the gray, two-door 1979 Oldsmobile Toronado missing from the home. The Florida license tag reads 61149 with the wheelchair icon on it, indicating the driver is eligible to park in a handicapped space.

Police still have not disclosed the cause of death in what is apparently the city's first double homicide in memory. Barnes said that was simply because the cause had not been determined, despite the fact that an autopsy was performed Wednesday.

The bodies of Thomas and Martin were found in the bathroom of the mobile home. It appears they had been dead for several days when they were found on Tuesday morning after one of Martin's relatives called the local police and asked them to check on her.

The neighborhood south of downtown Zephyrhills was peaceful Wednesday. Television news crews took footage of the house throughout the day for their newscasts. Curious local residents drove by slowly and pointed at the house. Except for the telltale yellow crime scene tape at the back and dark smudges on windows where detectives dusted for fingerprints, the off-white home looked like any other house in the quiet neighborhood.

Police and neighbors puzzled over the deaths Wednesday.

"We knew them as well as anyone in this neighborhood," said next-door neighbor Dick Dieffenbach, 65. "You didn't even know they were there half the time."

Dieffenbach and some of his neighbors made it clear that they weren't in fear for their own safety.

"It doesn't look random like that, or like a robbery," Dieffenbach said.

Barnes agreed.

"Very preliminary; we're not looking for strangers or a random home invasion," Barnes said. He added that his department had never been called out to the house on Lawanda Loop for any kind of disturbance before.

Zephyrhills police are asking that anyone with information on the deaths or the whereabouts of Kyle Thomas or the car should call the Police Department at (813) 780-0050.

Police are seeking Kyle Thomas, left, after finding his father, Craig Allen Thomas, 54, and Irene Rita Martin, 45, dead in a mobile home on Lawanda Loop. "He could be a suspect; he could be a witness; he could be an unfound victim," Zephyrhills police Chief Russell Barnes BBarnes said.

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