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Clearwater Beach bicyclist bludgeoned to death with tire iron, police say

A Tampa man was arrested on first-degree murder charge, and a second suspect is being sought in random and “heinous” attack.
 
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Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 22, 2022|Updated Oct. 22, 2022

CLEARWATER BEACH — A 49-year-old bicyclist found dead on Clearwater Beach early Friday suffered repeated blows to his chest with a tire iron, Clearwater police said Saturday.

Jeffrey Chapman, of Clearwater Beach, died from his injuries in what police described as a random attack by two men in a 2014 Nissan Altima.

Police on Friday arrested Tampa resident Jermaine Adrian Bennett, 26, on a charge of first-degree murder. They are seeking a second unnamed man who played an active part in the attack.

Chapman was hit in excess of 10 times in the chest, Clearwater police Deputy Chief Michael Walek said in a news conference. There seems to be no motive for the attack. He was found lying on the ground in the 700 block of Mandalay Avenue.

“It was a chance encounter that turned deadly while the victim was trying to ride his bike home,” Walek said. “This was very violent and heinous crime for no reason.”

The vehicle used in the attack was registered to Bennett, who was arrested at his work in Wesley Chapel by Pasco County deputies. He confessed to the death but showed no remorse, Walek said. Bennett told police the death was random and said the “ills of society” had gotten to him, according to Walek.

He is at Pasco County Jail awaiting extradition to Pinellas County, Walek said.

Pasco court records show that Bennett, who lived for a while in Wesley Chapel, was charged with misdemeanor battery in 2014. The case was later dropped.

Chapman, who worked in finance, regularly rode his bike around the beach community, Walek said. He was a snowbird who, every six weeks or so, would travel to Maine to visit family,

In Clearwater Beach, he lived at the Regatta Beach Club Condominium, roughly half a mile from where he was found.

Walek said police were able to obtain information about the attack, which happened around midnight, through video surveillance footage and tips called in by the public.

The other suspect was described as a 6-foot-2-inch male of slender build.

“He knows who he is,” Walek said.

Anyone with information on the identity of the second suspect or information about the crime is asked to call Clearwater Police at 727-562-4242

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.