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HERNANDO BROTHERS SHOWED FEW SIGNS OF STRIFE

Friends of "the nicest family" can't imagine the motive for a younger sibling's strangulation and burial in the yard.

Friends said Sean Eckard and his older brother Stanley Eckard often bickered and fought, as brothers sometimes do.

Only one time did the battling turn serious, when Stanley began choking his younger brother during a heated argument earlier this year, said Aaron Jasiak, who saw the fight.

That particular fight has now taken on a special significance: Stanley, sometimes called Eli or Stan, is accused of strangling his 19-year-old brother last weekend and burying his body in the family's yard.

"Sometimes, Sean didn't know when to stop talking," said Jasiak, 20, who has lived in the Eckards' 8456 Peoria St. home for the past six months. "And Eli got mad over the stupidest things."

Jasiak said he moved to the Eckard home in January after he didn't pay rent to his father and he shut off his electricity. Calling the Eckards "the nicest family (he'd) ever met," recalling the day he showed up in their driveway in his pajamas, a bag of clothes in one hand, and they took him in, only charging him $50 for rent.

The atmosphere in the house was friendly and welcoming, Jasiak said. He sensed no escalating tension and no indication of what was to come.

He lived with the family until Monday afternoon when Samuel Eckard unearthed the body of his son, Sean, from a shallow grave in the family's yard. Because the home is a crime scene, neither the family nor Jasiak can live there now.

Within an hour of a chaotic 911 call from a woman reporting that crime, the dispatcher with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office who took the call was counseled on how she handled the situation, officials said Wednesday.

Jessica Vore, a veteran dispatcher, received the lowest level of disciplinary action for not making it clear early in the call that officers were responding to the scene and for having an impatient tone.

Stanley, 21, has been arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said he admitted killing his brother and said he planned to move the body when his parents went out of town in a few weeks. Autopsy results are expected to be released today.

"The question I keep asking myself is, 'Why would he do something like that?'" Jasiak said, rubbing the dark circles under his eyes. "Believe me, I have no idea why this happened."

The Sheriff's Office said Donna Eckard saw Stan digging in the yard about 3 a.m. Saturday, and he told her he was burying an ex-girlfriend's clothes.

Jasiak said he last saw Sean on Thursday night at a Spring Hill Drive Walgreens with Samuel Eckard. Jasiak said he returned to the house about 1 a.m. Sunday and found Stan asleep on a couch in the garage. He asked Stan if he'd seen Sean, who had been missing for 48 hours.

"He said, 'He packed all his stuff and he went on a road trip this morning,'" Jasiak said.

Friends, family and authorities are still grappling with motive. Hernando sheriff's Chief Mike Maurer said there were indications a relationship between Sean and a girl caused the fight, but friend Juan Quinones, who used to live behind the Eckards' house, and Jasiak both said that didn't make sense.

Sean liked "cute white girls," Quinones said. He and Jasiak said Stanley only dated one non-Asian girl while they knew him. Sean's girlfriend is white.

"That just doesn't make sense that it was about a girl," Quinones said. "They weren't even attracted to the same type of person."

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or at lnelson@sptimes.com.

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