The reward for any information leading to the capture of a killer terrorizing Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood reached $100,000 this week.
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay upped the sum to six figures after the Federal Bureau of Investigation pledged $50,000 for tips leading to an arrest. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement promised an additional $10,000 and Rise Tampa guaranteed $20,000.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives pledged $20,000 to the reward fund earlier this month.
“Let’s hope this encourages someone with the strength and the fortitude to step forward to tell us who is doing this,” Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference last week.
The beefed-up reward comes after the suspected serial killer gunned down a fourth victim — 60-year-old Ronald Felton — just steps from the food bank where he volunteered twice a week.
A witness described the person who shot and killed Felton as a thin, black male with a light complexion, approximately six-feet tall, wearing all black and carrying a large black pistol. He attacked Felton as he crossed Nebraska Avenue toward New Season Apostolic Ministries just before 5 a.m on Nov. 14.
Felton’s slaying broke a month of relative calm in Seminole Heights as police continue piecing together evidence from the cases of the shooter’s three other victims: Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22; Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32; and Anthony Naiboa, 20.
Naiboa was found Oct. 19 near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue, about 200 yards away from the Ellicott Street bus stop where Mitchell was shot Oct. 9. Residents discovered Hoffa’s body Oct. 13 in a vacant lot six blocks away. She was last seen walking through the neighborhood two days earlier. Felton’s murder falls within the same 1-mile radius and investigators believe the cases are linked.
Dugan said during a Nov. 15 news conference the department received more than 2,000 tips in the case, but still don’t know the identity of the killer.
The biggest lead, so far, comes in the form of grainy video footage captured from nearby surveillance cameras. Dugan said Wednesday the man featured in the video appeared in the moments before and after Mitchell’s murder Oct. 9 and again just minutes before Felton’s murder last week.
“Someone has to know who this individual is,” Dugan said. “We are now calling this person a suspect and we need to know who this person is. We need someone who is thoughtful, cares, and has the heart, the fortitude, the bravery to step forward and tell us who this person and give us the identity.”
“I don’t need speculation. We don’t need profiles. We need names. It’s pretty simple,” he added.
Anonymous tips can be submitted online through Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay or by calling 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS).