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Published May 11, 2011

Robert Bingel was out of work and had few possessions. His live-in girlfriend told him he would have to find a new place to live. They were finished.

So on Saturday night, Bingel, 58, wrote his girlfriend a note and left it in the mailbox. "I'm gonna haunt you for the rest of your life," he wrote.

Then he set fire to their Seminole home, drove her golden Cadillac to the top of the Sunshine Skyway, crossed two lanes of traffic and jumped to his death, authorities said.

A passer-by called 911 around midnight.

His body was found about 500 yards from the bridge. Florida Highway Patrol troopers found a wallet and a note on the dashboard of the Cadillac.

Firefighters were putting out the blaze he started at the home at 8591 Forsyth Drive when Bingel's girlfriend, Dawn Abbott, 51, arrived at 2:15 a.m.

It was almost 3 a.m. when Bingel's brother Floyd got a call from Abbott looking for him.

Police already had told Bingel his brother was dead, and when he broke the news to Abbot, she got hysterical, he said. Their relationship was confrontational throughout the 20 or so years they lived together, but on Sunday she still said she loved him.

"And that's why she put up with him all of those years," Bingel said. Their arguments grew worse last week when Abbott lost her job, said Bingel.

His brother used to paint cars at auto repair stores, but for some reason stopped a couple of years ago. He'd awake around noon and spend all day on the computer.

Bingel said Abbott worked as a supervisor at Bic, the pen company, but broke her foot a few months ago.

Spending more time together put more stress on the relationship.When she lost her job, Abbot said, she couldn't afford to stay in the house, Bingel said, so she planned to rent it out in July and move in with friends.

"He was being evicted, basically," Bingel said. "Maybe this was the final straw before he had nothing left."

Bingel described his brother as quiet. They kept in touch through e-mail. He said his brother had few possessions.

He was the second person last week to jump from the Skyway, the fifth this year. An unidentified man jumped Thursday but survived the 200-foot plunge.

More than 130 people have died jumping from the bridge since it opened in 1987.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Ileana Morales can be reached at (813)226-3386 or