Tampa police arrest suspected Seminole Heights serial killer

Howell E. Donaldson III, 24, to be charged with 4 counts of 1st-degree murder

By Adrienne Cutway , Dawn Jorgenson - Web - News Editor

TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa police arrested a man Tuesday in connection with a series of killings in the city's Seminole Heights neighborhood.

Police identified the suspect as Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said the department received a tip Tuesday afternoon that left them optimistic about case.

Officers surrounded an Ybor City McDonald's on 13th Avenue after someone submitted a tip about 2:45 p.m. about a person with a gun at the restaurant.

"I'm optimistic on this one, but only time will tell," Dugan said.

When asked why he was optimistic about the incident being related to the murders, Dugan said, "It's just the way things are progressing."

Donaldson was later arrested.

Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was the first to be killed in the area. He was waiting for a bus Oct. 9 when he was fatally shot, police said.

Days later, the body of Monica Hoffa, 32, was found in a vacant lot on East New Orleans Avenue, about a half-mile from where Mitchell was shot.

Anthony Naiboa, 20, was fatally shot while walking home from work in the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood on Oct. 19, according to authorities.

The most recent murder was Nov. 14. Police said 60-year-old Ronald Felton was crossing the street when someone shot him from behind.

Gov. Rick Scott responded Tuesday night to the arrest in the case.

"I applaud the relentless effort of Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and every law enforcement officer who has worked around the clock and over the Thanksgiving holiday," he said. "Our state is home to the world’s best law enforcement community, and on behalf of all Floridians, we appreciate their bravery and service.

"As a father and a grandfather, it is unimaginable what the families of these victims are going through. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them, and we will work to ensure that they receive the justice they deserve. In Florida, we have absolutely zero tolerance for this type of evil behavior and anyone responsible will be held to the fullest extent of the law."

Police said Donaldson faces four counts of first-degree murder.

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