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Suspect charged with murder after victim in bank robbery-turned-carjacking found dead in Valrico, deputies say

Hillsborough deputies say James Hanson Jr. robbing the CenterState Bank branch in Valrico on Tuesday morning (seen in the surveillance photo left) and then carjacked a man to escape the bank. Deputies captured Hanson after a high-speed pursuit that ended when they rammed the stolen SUV off the road (right.) But the victim, Mathew Korattiyil, 68, was later found dead. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
Published Aug. 13

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VALRICO — A 68-year-old man who was carjacked at gunpoint after a bank robbery Tuesday morning was found dead hours later, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Mathew Korattiyil was last seen being pushed into his white Lexus SUV by the man accused of robbing the CenterState Bank, 1815 E Brandon Blvd., at about 10:30 a.m.

A search was launched, and after a high-speed chase and crash, deputies knocked the stolen SUV off the road and captured the alleged bank robber, James Hanson Jr., 39.

But Korattiyil wasn't inside the vehicle, so the search continued.

Then at 4 p.m., deputies announced that he was found dead at Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Community Center located at 2620 Washington Road.

Hanson was taken into custody and gave a full confession Tuesday after being interviewed by detectives for several hours, according to the Sheriff's Office. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on charges of first degree murder, carjacking, grand theft auto, kidnapping, resisting an officer with violence and robbery.

The Catholic center and crashed SUV were all a little more than a mile from the bank. The Sheriff's Office did not release any other information about the incident, such as what happened to Korattiyil after he was kidnapped or what the cause of death was.

Korattiyil was an active and generous member of the community center where he was found, said president Tomy Kattinacheril.

"He was a great community supporter and loving man and family member," Kattinacheril said.

Korattiyil owned Valrico Food Store, a gas station and store just minutes away, but had recently retired and leased it out. He wanted to enjoy retirement and spend time with his three children and his grandchildren, the president said.

"This was the place for him, where he loved the church and grew," Kattinacheril said. "They dumped him at our place, that's the saddest thing."

The incident started when Hanson entered the bank and approached a teller with a gun, said Hillsborough sheriff's Chief Deputy Donna Lusczynski at a news conference. Hanson assaulted a bank patron before fleeing the bank, she said.

Then, in the parking lot, Hanson encountered Korattiyil, pushed him into his white Lexus SUV and drove off, the chief deputy said.

Deputies found the Lexus at about 12:15 p.m., near the intersection of State Road 60 and St. Cloud Avenue and started a high-speed pursuit. At one point during the chase, the Lexus struck another car but that driver was not injured, Lusczynski said.

Deputies used a tire-shredding device and a technique called the "PIT maneuver" — pursuit intervention technique — to disable the SUV and ram it off the road, causing it to overturn.

Hanson ran from the crash but was eventually captured by deputies and arrested. Korattiyil, however, was still missing at that time.

Records show Hanson was released from Florida state prison on July 2 after serving time for armed robbery and was still on probation when he was arrested Tuesday. His criminal record dates back to 1996 and includes convictions for armed burglary and grand theft.

He also faced charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in North Carolina.

Senior news researcher Caryn Baird, staff writers Tony Marrero and Allie Goulding contributed to this report. Contact Kavitha Surana at ksurana@tampabay.com or 727-893-8149. Follow @ksurana6. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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