TAMPA — Thomas Elmore Jr. tried to frame the shooting death of his girlfriend as a suicide in 2016, according to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.
On Thursday, Elmore Jr. was found guilty in court on a second-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors say that Elmore, 48, shot Tamara Naish, a 48-year-old nurse, in their Riverview home in September 2016. He then let her body sit for “at least 36 hours” before alerting deputies, who discovered Naish with two bullet wounds.
Elmore told deputies at the time that his girlfriend committed suicide and that he waited so long to contact them because he was “distraught,” prosecutors said.
Further examination by the medical examiner’s office determined that it would have been impossible for Naish to have shot herself, prosecutors said. It was also determined that one of her bullet wounds — to her hand — likely occurred as she was protecting her face.
The gun used in the shooting had also been placed in Naish’s left hand, though she was right-handed, according to prosecutors.
Elmore, who was a paramedic for Americare Ambulance Services, gave a statement to investigators in 2016 that said he and Naish got in a fight over her job loss and money issues when he got home from a Hooters at about 1 a.m. He told investigators that Naish kicked his dog during the argument, prompting him to take the pet to his parents’ house in Seffner.
During a search of their home on Star Gazer Lane in Riverview, deputies at the time said Naish’s body appeared to have been moved and manipulated. That’s when the county medical examiner found that she had been dead at least 36 hours and reported the death as a homicide, not suicide.
Naish and Elmore had dated for three or four years, Naish’s mother told the Tampa Bay Times in 2016.
“This delivers justice for Tamara Naish and her family,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement. “As a nurse, she dedicated her career to helping others. Her life was taken so heartlessly, and now the man who did it — and lied about it — will pay for it.”
The State Attorney’s Office said jurors deliberated for eight hours over a two-day span before reaching the guilty verdict. Assistant State Attorneys Suzy Lopez and Sean Bevil prosecuted the case.
The sentencing for Elmore will be scheduled for a later date.