Why Tampa police think they have a suspect in 4 Seminole Heights murders

Officials say they have evidence that links Howell Donaldson III to the Seminole Heights killings.

TAMPA, Fla. –  For the first time, police reveal the type of ammunition used in the Seminole Heights murders and now, it might be enough to link that information to a suspect.

The newly released police affidavit details what leads authorities to charge 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III with four counts of murder. 

Donaldson was taken into police custody Tuesday, Nov. 28, at a McDonald's restaurant just off Interstate 4 on East 13th Avenue. Police received a tip they believed was their most promising yet and responded in kind, with multiple officers and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan at the scene.

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The affidavit shows a Smith and Wesson .40-caliber handgun was taken from Donaldson that was kept inside a McDonald's food bag. The affidavit states investigators found .40-caliber cartridge casings at each of the murder scenes.

The recovered weapon -- legally purchased in October from Shooter's World on East Fletcher Avenue -- was found to have five unfired rounds of SIG brand Smith and Wesson .40-caliber ammunition. 

A witness speaking with police stated Donaldson was an employee at the restaurant and earlier had expressed an intent to leave the state. 

Officers also found clothing in Donaldson's car in the McDonald's parking lot that was similar in appearance to the clothing worn by the person in earlier surveillance footage from the neighborhood, the documents read. They, too, had what appeared to be blood on the clothing.

Dugan said they are "100 percent" confident they have the right person in custody. 

Read the affidavit for more:

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Tampa police affidavit details charges against Seminole Heights murder suspect by 10News WTSP on Scribd

Investigators also are using phone records in an attempt to tie Donaldson to the Seminole Heights neighborhood.

While not a resident of Seminole Heights, police suspect Donaldson was in the location of the three Seminole Heights murders on Oct. 9, 11, and 19, as his AT&T phone was pinged to area cell towers. 

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