Police say that a possible serial killer is “terrorizing” a Tampa neighborhood after three people were shot and killed in 11 days.
The killings all occurred in The Seminole Heights section of Tampa. The three victims do not have an apparent link to each other, but they were fatally shot within a half mile of each other.
The first victim, 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell, was shot and killed at approximately 9 p.m on October 9 while waiting at a bus stop near his home. He was alone at the time, He has no criminal background and a police spokesperson said in a press conference that he is “a good person from a good family.”
Two days later, Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32, was shot and killed ten blocks away. Her body was found in a grassy plot of land owned by the city of Tampa. “Her life was taken from her with no motive,” her family wrote in an online obituary.
On October 19, the third victim, Anthony Taino Naiboa was shot just 100 yards away from where Mitchell was killed. Naiboa, 20, had autism and had accidentally taken the wrong bus home from work. At a vigil for Naiboa on Sunday evening, his father, Anthony, shared his anguish. “They killed him just for nothing,” he told the mourners. “Like he’s not a human, like he’s nothing.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
“We think they’re related. Through the proximity and the time frame, they are related,” Tampa interim Police Chief Brian Dugan told reporters during a Friday press conference. “There is no doubt in our minds about that.”
When a reporter asked Dugan if Tampa had a serial killer on its hands, he raised no objection to classifying the murders in that manner. “We are still sifting through evidence,” he said. “We can call it what we want. If that brings attention to this, that’s fine.”
Dugan is urging the residents of Tampa to take the streets back. “We’re not going to be held hostage by whoever is doing this,” he said. “We need everyone to come out of their homes at night, turn on their porch lights, and just not tolerate this type of terrorism.”