A Hernando County man has been arrested after he hit a pedestrian, drove away with the man’s body on his car, then dumped the body behind a bait shop, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Just after midnight on Sunday, 28-year-old Joseph Charles Strickland of Weeki Wachee was headed west on Cortez Boulevard approaching the intersection with Steuben Street.
The pedestrian, a 32-year-old Spring Hill man who was not named by the highway patrol, was walking along the road when he was hit by Strickland’s 1995 Mazda MX-6.
Strickland then drove with the man’s body on the car to Dixie Lee Bait, 6408 Evanston St., where he removed the body from the car and dumped it. He called his roommates and friends to have them help push the car back to his house, which was also on the 6000 block of Evanston Street. Strickland told them he hit a deer, according to the highway patrol.
When he got home, he spray painted parts of the car, according to the highway patrol.
Later that morning, a roommate looked at the car and figured the damage couldn’t have been from a deer. He called law enforcement about 8 a.m. At about the same time, officials found a human leg on the shoulder of Cortez Boulevard.
Troopers, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office cadaver dog searched for remains and found the pedestrian’s body behind the bait shop.
When troopers came to his house, Strickland tried to run out back but was stopped by deputies, according to the department.
He was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death, tampering with evidence, having no valid driver license involving a death and having no insurance. He was also arrested on a warrant out of Minnesota for bodily harm gross negligence felony criminal vehicle operation, according to the highway patrol.
In February 2020, Strickland was driving 86 mph in a 60-mph zone in Minnesota’s Dakota County, according to KSTP-TV. When a deputy saw the speeding car and tried to approach, Strickland tried to pass a tractor trailer and a car but ran into another car, swerving and rolling several times into a ditch, according to the news outlet.
A 17-year-old in Strickland’s car was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Strickland and the other passengers, a 14-year-old and a 20-year-old, were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.