St. Petersburg, Florida -- St. Petersburg detectives have charged a man in connection with the murders of two men found in a house fire on Oct. 1.
Investigators working the case say they linked escaped convict Michael Norris to the weapon used in the double murder of Bruce Johnson and Arthur Regula.
Police say Norris, a prisoner of the Florida Department of Corrections since Feb. 10, 2004 for multiple felonies, was working in a work release program when he never returned from his duties on the morning of Sept. 30.
A few hours after leaving the Largo Residential Re-Entry Center, St. Pete investigators say witnesses identified Norris as the man they saw leaving the Driftwood Motel after a semi-automatic handgun was stolen from a room there.
Soon after, police say Norris committed the burglary at the home in the 2600 block of 4th Avenue North, shot and killed the two men and set the home on fire after he stole items from inside, along with their truck.
On Oct. 2, detectives found Norris and arrested him in connection with his escape, armed burglary at the hotel, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
After they found evidence linking him to the scene of the double murder, they asked him about it and say he did cooperate but did not admit to the crime. He was held without bond until detectives could solidify their case against him.
The gun taken from the hotel was recovered and is undergoing tests at this time to verify if it is the same one used in the double murder.
Today, Oct. 4, investigators felt they had enough evidence to charge him with the double murder. However, they donot know why he targeted that house in the Kenwood neighborhood or why the men were killed in the burglary. It is also not known if the men knew each other.
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St. Petersburg Police Homicide investigators are still looking for witnesses who can help them trace Norris' path before and after the murders in Kenwood. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Communications Center at 727-893-7780. Anonymous tipsters can call our Tip Line at 727-892-5000 or Text a Tip at 727-420-8911.