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Family files lawsuit against Bob's Carpet and Flooring heir in 22-year-old woman's death

The parents of a 22-year-old woman found dead in 2016 are suing Robert Butler III. [Photo courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department.]
The parents of a 22-year-old woman found dead in 2016 are suing Robert Butler III. [Photo courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department.]
Published Jul. 25, 2018

The parents of a 22-year-old woman found dead in a St. Petersburg alley are suing an heir of a prominent local carpet market chain, alleging that he neglected to get medical help for her shortly before she died.

In a lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas County, lawyers for the family of Taylor Ann McAllister say Robert Butler III, 52, declined to call 911 as she was ailing, afraid of bringing investigators to his Palm Harbor home where they say he kept guns and drugs.

Instead, police have said, Butler called a drug dealer and his acquaintance to the house, then instructed them to drive McAllister away. At some point, according to detectives, the men realized McAllister was unconscious, but Butler told them not to bring her back to his home. The men dumped her in an alley near 63rd Avenue S in St. Petersburg, authorities said, where investigators found her body on Dec. 22, 2016.

"Butler was only concerned about his own self-interest," lawyers for the parents wrote in their complaint. Butler is the son of the founder of Bob's Carpet and Flooring. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

READ: St. Petersburg police arrest Bob's Carpet and Flooring heir, several others, in death of 22-year-old woman found in alley

READ: Bob's Carpet and Flooring heir was source of family strife before arrest

The lawsuit said the cause of McAllister's death was asphyxiation, but it did not describe what led her to fall sick.

The lawyers also listed Deonte Baker and Quran Archer, the two men who police said drove McAllister to the alley, in the wrongful death complaint. Baker, according to court records, is facing federal charges of money laundering and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Investigators have said he is a drug dealer who cashed more than $190,000 in checks during a three-year period, passing the money through a girlfriend's bank accounts.

Baker, Archer and Butler all face state charges of failure to report a death. Butler additionally is accused of possession of marijuana and being a felon in possession of ammunition.

His family's business is a familiar local chain that has tried to distance itself from the case. At the time of Butler's arrest the company said he had not been involved in business operations in three years. But court filings show he has earned money through a family trust.

McAllister's father, Bill, has told the Tampa Bay Times his daughter had been staying with Butler, who he said supplied her with drugs and cash while she dated him. She had two children.

The McAllister family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Contact Zachary T. Sampson at zsampson@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.

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