Local activist Paula Witthaus and roommate James Edward Rapp found murdered inside St. Pete home; no suspect at this time

2:34 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Paula Witthaus was best known as an activist, someone who fought for political and social causes. 10 News interviewed even interviewed Witthaus last year, when she was in Tallahassee to push for expanding Medicaid coverage.

The 54-year-old, friends say, wanted peace and equality.

That's why it was such a shock to those who knew Paula that she and her roommate, 67-year-old James Edward Rapp, were found murdered in their St. Petersburg home located at 2840 17th Avenue North. Police say it appears Witthaus was Rapp's caregiver, due to several medical conditions he suffered from.

"I am so sad," said Kathy Nicks, a friend who lives nearby and often gardened with Paula. "She was a really, really nice person. Who would want to do something like this? She didn't deserve it."

Paula's friends tell us that she was legally blind and her roommate was mostly bedridden and struggled to use his walker.

A friend went by to check on the roommates on Tuesday afternoon, and discovered their bodies inside the home. Police say the two were "brutally attacked" within 48 hours prior to the friend's arrival.

The question is, who did this? And why?

St. Pete Police don't have a suspect or a motive. They do say it was not random. 

"She did so much for so many. She will be missed. I don't know who would want to do this," said Nicks.

Anyone who believes that they may have information regarding the two victims or possible suspects are asked to call  Detective Rodney Tower at the police non-emergency number at 727-893-7780, or they may Text-A-Tip to 727-420-8911 or leave a confidential tip at 727-892-5000.

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