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Two years later, Pinellas woman charged with killing father

The daughter’s arrest concludes a 2 1/2-year investigation into the death of 71-year-old Daniel Gillespie.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has arrested Shannon Gillespie, right, on a charge of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of her father, Daniel Gillespie, 71. In this January 2020 photo, Gillespie reacts to witness testimony during a hearing for disputes over a house she owned with her siblings.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has arrested Shannon Gillespie, right, on a charge of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of her father, Daniel Gillespie, 71. In this January 2020 photo, Gillespie reacts to witness testimony during a hearing for disputes over a house she owned with her siblings. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times (2020) ]
Published Mar. 26
Updated Mar. 26

For 2½ years, Shannon Gillespie has denied killing her father. She said she had nothing to do with the body of 71-year-old Daniel Gillespie being found Nov. 15, 2018, in his Clearwater home, a property she once fought her siblings for control of in court.

On Friday, she was arrested on a first-degree murder charge.

Detectives arrested the 46-year-old mother of four at her St. Petersburg apartment and booked her into the Pinellas County jail just after 10 a.m.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to go into details about the extensive investigation but said physical evidence, lab tests, witness statements and Gillespie’s own statements all point to her in the death of her father.

“I’m very comfortable with the case,” Gualtieri said. “There is abundant evidence and that’s why she was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.”

In June 2019, Gillespie told a Tampa Bay Times reporter that she didn’t kill her father. But she said she despised him and, in court records, accused him of abusing one of her children. She recounted a conversation she had with a detective, who asked her how do they know she didn’t kill Daniel Gillespie?

The daughter said she told the detective this:

“You found the body right? ... I said okay then. I said bitch, if it would have been me, it would have been a missing person report, not a homicide. That motherf---er would have swum with the fishes.”

Related: Lawyer for man found dead in Clearwater home: 'I was very concerned something was going to happen to him.'

The arrest report describes how the 71-year-old died.

Shannon Gillespie was evicted from the Clearwater home she shared with her father at 1506 Meadow Dale Drive, the report said. She “returned to the home stealthily during the night,” the report said, and “hid and waited for the opportunity to surprise” her father.

She then beat and stabbed him to death, the report said. Gualtieri said she used a knife and a baseball bat.

She told her son about the killing and instructed him to discover his grandfather’s death so it could be reported to the authorities, the arrest report said. The Sheriff’s Office declined on Friday to release the name of the son or say whether he will face charges.

Gillespie, who is being held without bail in the county jail, declined a request to be interviewed.

Shannon Gillespie, 46, faces a charge of first-degree murder.
Shannon Gillespie, 46, faces a charge of first-degree murder. [ Pinellas County jail ]

Beth Gillespie, one of Daniel Gillespie’s four children, said Friday she and the rest of the family were “relieved that dad will have justice finally and we can get the closure we needed.”

Deputies found Daniel Gillespie’s body on Nov. 15, 2018, after responding to the home. Court records from the weeks leading up to his death spelled out tension in the family.

Daniel Gillespie wanted his daughter to move out, and she refused, so he took the dispute to court. A judge sided with the father on Oct. 30, two weeks before his death. The father and daughter also lobbed allegations of abuse back and forth in separate petitions for domestic violence injunctions filed that summer.

After his death, the elder Gillespie’s three other children moved to sell the house, which Shannon Gillespie fought in court. A magistrate sided with the pro-sale children and the home was set to be sold to an investor in January 2020.

Just before the sale was to occur, the home went up in flames on Jan. 29, 2020, in the middle of the night. Gualtieri said Friday that blaze is still under investigation.

The home was sold in September for $132,000 to an LLC, according to property records — $58,000 less than the $190,000 the home was supposed to go for before the fire.

About $102,800 of home sale and insurance proceeds will be distributed among the siblings and their attorneys, according to the most recent court filing in the case.

Related: Fire engulfs Clearwater home at center of unsolved homicide
Investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and Clearwater Fire and Rescue investigate the scene of a fire at 1506 Meadow Dale Drive in Clearwater in January 2020.
Investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and Clearwater Fire and Rescue investigate the scene of a fire at 1506 Meadow Dale Drive in Clearwater in January 2020.