Clearwater personal trainer arrested and charged with murder

5:49 PM, Aug 18, 2006   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida - A 39-year-old Clearwater man was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder  in the slayings of a married couple. Police say Richard Damian Robards killed Frank and Linda Deluca in their Murray Avenue home on Tuesday, August 1st.

Clearwater Police say Robards killed the couple so he could steal a cabinet-sized safe and the large amount of money inside it.

Investigators believe Robards knew the couple as their personal trainer.  They say  Robards stabbed the couple then  used gasoline and newspaper to ignite a fire he hoped would destroy evidence of the crime. Their bodies were found the next day in a smoke-filled house. CPD arson investigators say a lack of oxygen stopped the fire and the blaze did not spread.

Robards was a personal trainer to the area's elite, and was once a male revue dancer. Clearwater Police say Robards was living out of motels in recent weeks. Robards was already in the Pinellas jail on felony drug possession charges when the murder charges were filed.

Detectives say Robards killed the couple and used his strength to push their safe onto the driveway. They say he asked a friend to help him take the safe. Robards asked the acquaintance to drive his SUV to the house and put it in the rear. When that failed, they got a trailer and moved the safe to the friend's Palm Harbor residence.

Detectives ultimately located the unopened safe, connected it to Robard's words and actions. CPD opened the safe yesterday and discovered a substantial amount of money inside. CPD says media attention on this case helped detectives locate the safe.

Investigators don't believe the other man knew of the dead couple inside the home, having been told the safe was Robard’s and he had lost the combination.

By Friday, two days after the crime was discovered, the media was told of the safe. That evening, police had a tip naming Robards,  the couple's trainer- as possibly being involved with the pair's death.

Detectives discovered that victim Frank Deluca had a federal conviction from the early 1990's stemming from his sale of marijuana at  his Clearwater paint business. Various people told CPD they heard rumors or had knowledge of the Delucas selling marijuana from their home.

Tampa Bay's 10 News and Clearwater Police

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