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Daystarter: Tracking her grisly crime scenes with Instagram; residents object to Pinellas Trail extension; should school boards have term limits?

Published Apr. 22

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• After overnight lows in the 50s across the Tampa Bay area, we'll have mostly clear skies today, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will be in the low to mid 80s.

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida's best newspaper and its redesigned website

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.

• A question has been lingering in Florida since Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed that Russian hackers gained access to a Florida county. Times Political Editor Steve Contorno asks: Does this vindicate former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his claims that Russians had breached Florida's voting records? Well, he sure thinks so.

• Sri Lankans panicked: The Easter Sunday violence was the deadliest the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago.

• More than 200 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in eight bomb blasts that rocked churches and luxury hotels in or near Sri Lanka's capital on Easter Sunday — the deadliest violence the South Asian island country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago. Sri Lankans are anxious over what's yet to come.

• The County Commission recently voted to complete a few small segments of the Pinellas Trail, but agreed that a much bigger piece needs a longer look and more discussion. However, as the county tries to finish the section from East Lake to Clearwater, some residents object.

• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.

• The Tampa mayor's race is headed down the stretch. Click here for full coverage of the race and follow Tampa city hall reporter Charlie Frago on Twitter for the latest developments.

• Former police chief Jane Castor is the heavy favorite to win Tampa's mayoral election tomorrow. Polls say that's true, and conventional wisdom would as well after she nearly avoided a run-off in the March 5 election. But what do Florida's top political minds think? Does the philanthropic billionaire David Straz have a chance? More than 96 percent of Florida Insiders said no, he does not. Just six (two Democrat, four Republican) campaign operatives, fundraisers, political scientists and other veteran politicos regularly polled by the Tampa Bay Times think Straz will come out of Tuesday's election victorious. And the other 162 respondents picked Castor.

• There's nothing pretty about Laura Spaulding's Instagram page — except that it has 111,000 followers. It showcases some of the grisliest reality on earth — hoarder homes, bloody crime scenes, and other places she cleans for a living as the founder of Spaulding Decon. That's short for decontamination. She estimates 95 percent of the page's content comes from the Tampa franchise she runs. Is it ethical to share the images from grisly crime scenes? A competitor says no, but customers of Spaulding Decon agree to allow it, knowing they'll remain anonymous.

• Should Florida school boards have term limits? Lawmakers aren't so sure. After a seemingly strong start, a bill that would limit school board members to two consecutive terms is stalled with two weeks to go.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.

• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

Local talent Alex Harris ignited the Tampa Bay Rays' crowd with his rendition of the National Anthem at the Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers game on Saturday. The performance did not surprise those of us who know Harris' incandescent singing. Only his kindness outshines his ability. And no one would blame Harris if he chose to leave Tampa Bay and pursue greater success in New York, Nashville or L.A.

• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports. Times sportswriter Rick Stroud has the latest reaction and analysis from the whole team via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

• Where do the Lightning go being swept out of the first-round of the NHL Playoffs. Check out the Times throughout the offseason to see how Tampa Bay puts the pieces back together and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• Bruce Anderson knows he can play in the NFL, and when you watch him, then hear him, there's plenty of reasons to believe he can live out that dream. Could Anderson be Tampa Bay's latest draft diamond in the rough?

• In the wake of the Lightning's sweep by the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy stood in front of a pack of reporters and did something no one else on the team did: He said he needed to be better. He didn't say "we." He said "I."

• Get the latest Rays' news from Marc Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• The Red Sox extended the Rays' losing streak to four games with a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field Sunday.

• The Rays posted a single-game team record four triples in Saturday's game against Boston, but not without cost. Tampa Bay put Austin Meadows on the 10-day injured list Sunday morning because of a right thumb injury he suffered on a seventh inning triple. First baseman Ji-Man Choi suffered left calf tightness after legging out a triple earlier in the 6-5 loss to Boston, and is day-to-day.

• The NFL draft is days away. What will new coach Bruce Arians do? Keep up with the latest offseason changes by following the Times' Bucs page which is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

Get the latest on the Gators and Seminoles this spring from Times college football beat writer Matt Baker and follow him on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.


  1. St. Petersburg's single-use plastic straw ban kicks in starting Jan. 1, 2020. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    The City Council on Thursday is set to adopt some tweaks to the ordinance, including making all straws by-request-only.
  2. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was being driven through North Tampa when she spotted suspicious activity. She called it in, leading to an arrest. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Tampa’s mayor was being driven through North Tampa when she stepped back briefly into police work.
  3. 1 hour ago• Hillsborough
    Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The 47-year-old man was fatally injured after walking into the SUV’s path on E Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  4. Tech Data's CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with former CEO Bob Dutkowsky during a send off celebration for Dutkowsky earlier this year. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
    A private equity firm has agreed to buy Tech Data.
  5. Joseph Erickson, 53, looks out the window at the gulf-[front condo he thought he won at a foreclosure auction last year.t JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    "There have been serious allegations,'' Judge Keith Meyer said.
  6. Steven Duane Baker, 61, was arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and destroying evidence in a crash that left a 28-year-old bicyclist dead on U.S. 301, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Florida Highway Patrol
    Steven D. Baker, 61, told investigators he hit something but didn’t know it was a bicyclist, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers say he should have stopped.
  7. The Teal Plank Workshop in Brooksville is gaining popularity as a place to host a party with friends and make something for your home — all at the same time. CAITLYN BRAY  |  Special to the Times
  8. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Shoppers in Tampa Bay can now skip the line and cash out alcohol on their own phones.
  9. Which cars hold their value best in Tampa Bay? Pictured is traffic in Tampa Bay in 2017. [Times file photo] ELLIOTT, LOREN  |  Elliott, Loren
    For the top spots, think big and rugged.
  10. Pharmacist Wendy Sullivan gives a flu shot to Luz Acevedo at the Town 'N Country Senior Center in 2012. The 2019-20 flu season is expected to be a hard one, with Hillsborough County already leading the state in outbreaks. Associated Press
    The county leads the state in flu outbreaks so far this season, prompting an official call for parents to get their kids vaccinated.