Mysterious murders: Vigil honors victims' lives as search for killer continues

Vigils held after three murders happen in Seminole Heights, search for killer continues

TAMPA, Fla. – Three murders in less than two weeks in one Tampa area neighborhood continue to rattle residents and frustrate friends and family of the victims as police continue to search for a killer.

Sunday evening hundreds joined together, quietly walking with candles in hand to the locations where each victim was found.

Rather than be scared, people who attended the vigil said they wanted to show that they stood in support of the victims and their families.

"Stand up, not only for Monica, not only for Benjamin, not only for Anthony, but stand up as a community," said Maria Rodriguez, the stepmother of Anthony Naiboa.

Naiboa, 20, is the latest victim. He was found shot to death on a sidewalk the night of Oct. 19. Tampa police said the recent high school graduate who had autism, had accidentally taken the wrong bus home and ended up in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.

RELATED: $25K reward offered after three separate killings in Seminole Heights 

Sunday’s walk was requested by Naiboa’s family.

"I just hope that someone just realizes the pain that our family, Monica’s family, as well as Benjamin’s family is going through because justice has to prevail," Rodriguez said.

As the group stopped Sunday night at the place where Naiboa was killed, his father told the crowd that whomever did this to his son would pay. 

"We’re not scared of these people. We won’t be afraid and you won’t get away with it," Casimar Naiboa said, before dropping to his knees in prayer.

Police heard the shots that killed Naiboa. They had deployed extra patrols in the area after the two other murders in 10 days.

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed Oct. 9 while waiting at a bus stop near North 15th Street and East Frierson Avenue—about 100 yards from where Naiboa was shot, according to police.

Police believe Monica Hoffa, 32, was shot and killed on Oct. 11. Her body was found Oct. 13 in a vacant lot near the intersection of East New Orleans Avenue and North 10th Street. 

Last week, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan expressed his frustration and anger with the case.

"We have someone who's terrorizing the neighborhood," Dugan told reporters during a press conference on Friday.

WATCH: Click or tap here to watch Friday morning's news conference in its entirety

Investigators have been unable to find any link between the three victims, but they remain convinced the murders are somehow connected.

“When you look at the timeframe, the proximity, that there is no apparent motive, that they are alone, the victims are a lot of the time, it's clear to me that they're all linked,” Dugan said.

Dugan has stopped short of using the term ‘serial killer.’

The search continues for a person of interest wearing a hoodie seen in surveillance video in the area on the night of the first murder.


A $25,000 reward is being offered by Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay and ATF for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the killings.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-873-TIPS.

Tampa police plan to hold a community meeting with residents at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Edison Elementary School to talk about the murders and how to stay safe.
 

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.

Have a news tip? Email desk@wtsp.com, or visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment