TAMPA, Fla. -- The hunt for a serial killer in Seminole Heights could have some families in the neighborhood rethinking their traditional Thanksgiving plans this year.
Kids playing outside. Safety concerns.
The holiday has Bob and Vivian Fiallo changing plans. But not the way you might think.
You see, the Fiallos are getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner at their home in Southeast Seminole Heights, canceling the plans they had made take their brand-new RV up to the Carolinas for the holidays as they have in years past.
“Spending Thanksgiving in the mountains with the family. And then maybe even back at the cabin in the mountains for Christmas. But, again, with everything happening here we felt like we're not going to be chased away from our home,” said Bob. “We're not going to be chased away from our own house, from our community. So we decided to stay.”
The Fiallos are defiant and determined to send a message to their friends, neighbors, and especially the killer terrorizing their community.
“We're not going to let somebody scare us, or stay inside a run and hide. Or be fearful of our own existence here. Of our own home. Of our own neighborhood,” said Vivian.
The Fiallos say everyone needs to make their own mind. But they were admittedly disappointed to hear some would be avoiding the neighborhood this year.
They heard concerns, said Vivian, “From other people like, 'Why don't we just celebrate at our house on the side of town instead of in Seminole Heights?'”
For the Fiallos that would be like surrendering the home Vivian's father built, abandoning the neighbors that she grew up with.
“And what about your kids? Is your family coming? Aren't you concerned about them?” she was asked. “And it's like. no, we're fine. You know, we’re going to be fine,” said Vivian.
“They’ll be here with us,” said Bob. “And no one is going to be looking over their shoulder during Thanksgiving. It's a holiday. And we're going to treat it like that.”
The Fiallos say they're especially thankful this Thanksgiving for the police officers and other first responders who've been working so hard to keep their neighborhood safe. And if any of them are out there patrolling their neighborhood tomorrow - they say they're welcome to stop in and celebrate with them.
The family can always plan to spend the holidays in the Carolinas next year, said Bob. They'll still have the RV. The mountains aren't going anywhere. But this year, they're thankful to be home in Seminole Heights.