Pasco authorities find disabled man who went missing after Zephyrhillls caretaker found dead

Authorities say Tijauni R. Stone, 26, is autistic, has Down syndrome and a tendency to be violent.
Authorities say Tijauni R. Stone, 26, is autistic, has Down syndrome and a tendency to be violent.
Published Dec. 31, 2015

WESLEY CHAPEL — Authorities have located a 26-year-old missing disabled man who was in the care of a Zephyrhills woman found dead earlier this week.

Pasco sheriff's deputies and Zephyrhills police officers found Tijauni Rhomane Stone at the Shoppes at New Tampa at the corner of State Road 56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Stone was found 18 miles from where he had been staying with Winnifred Francis-Ellis, 60, whose body was found Monday in her unlocked apartment at Grand Reserve, a seniors community north of downtown Zephyrhills just east of U.S. 301.

He was classified as a "missing endangered adult." Authorities said Stone is also autistic, has Down syndrome and a tendency to be aggressive and violent. They also say he has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old.

The 26-year-old was staying with Francis-Ellis while his mother is in London, the victim's family told police. Officials said Stone's mother was friends with Francis-Ellis.

Zephyrhills police said Francis-Ellis' death has been labeled "suspicious" but are waiting for the medical examiner to determine a cause of death. Officials said they don't know if Stone has information that could help them, or if he's a victim himself.

Neighbors said Francis-Ellis was a frequent churchgoer and active in the community. After nobody had seen her for a few days, management found her body. Stone was not there.

Those who lived on Francis-Ellis' floor described her as friendly and helpful.

"All I could tell you was she was a wonderful person," said neighbor Lois Kasza, 69.

She and Francis-Ellis used to drive together to attend services at Calvary Baptist in Wesley Chapel. Over Christmas, Kasza had planned to ask Francis-Ellis to go to North Carolina with her to undergo training to minister to young people.

Now she wishes she had reached out to Francis-Ellis sooner.

"I wish I had," Kasza said, "because maybe she'd still have been alive."

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @josh_solomon15.