Friday, November 17, 2017
Public safety

Killers hid body of their Clearwater landlord, 69, for two weeks, police say

RECOMMENDED READING


CLEARWATER — Jameka Evans often helped her neighbor Mary Ring carry in groceries and saw her pass out gummy worms to kids playing in the street.

But in the last month, Evans hadn't seen Ring, 69, whom she called "Miss Mary." Instead, she saw the people who had recently moved in with Ring carrying her possessions out to the front yard and driving her car. She thought Ring may have died and that the new tenants were her family.

"I thought they were taking care of her," Evans, 26, said Tuesday.

But Monday morning, officers found Ring shot to death in her home, Clearwater police said. Her two tenants face charges in her killing.

Lawrence Edward Cannon, 42, was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder, and Jennifer Elam, 44, on a charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Cannon is being held without bail at Pinellas County Jail. Elam's bail is set at $50,000.

Clearwater Police Department spokesman Rob Shaw said officers first visited the home at 1132 Engman St. on Sunday when an anonymous caller expressed concern over Ring's well-being. But no one was home that day.

On Monday, officers returned after a second caller expressed fear that a homicide had occurred there.

Police say Cannon shot Ring to death on Feb. 5, and the suspects have spent the past two weeks trying to decide how to dispose of her body.

Police said Elam and Cannon were not working as Ring's caretakers.

John Elton Chantry, a former tenant of Ring's, said she had all sorts of medical issues — diabetes, bone problems, muscle problems.

"She was sweet," Chantry, 54, said Tuesday. "But she was a mess."

Chantry lived with Ring as a tenant and a roommate in two Clearwater homes over a five-year period. But renting a room meant being her caretaker, too, he said.

"I'd take her to the store, go shopping for her, help her if she needed help getting to the bathroom," Chantry said. "I did what I could."

He met her through her daughter Tracy Ring, a friend of his. The younger Ring died about five years ago, Chantry said. He remembered his former landlord as someone who was easy to get along with.

"Everyone loved her," he said, then he added with a chuckle, "but she didn't put up with garbage. If she thought you were not being truthful, she let you know."

Cannon's stepfather said an addiction to pain pills had put Cannon on a dark path.

"I knew he had a little bit of a temper but I never knew him to get into fights," said Larry Pearson, 58, of Tennessee.

"We hadn't spoken in more than two years. I kicked him to the curb for stealing from me. Drugs got hold of him."

Cannon's only criminal record involves two incidents in 2003, one misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana and paraphernalia and the other misdemeanor charges of possession of inhaling paraphernalia.

"He was a very nice, sweet, honest kid who helped his mother with anything," Pearson said.

Cannon's wife, Sheila Cannon, died in 2014, Pearson said. It was around then that Cannon's addiction to drugs spiked.

Evans, the neighbor, said she would often see Cannon and Elam, along with a third man, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes outside. The yard became cluttered with what Evans believes were Ring's possessions — a washer and dryer, shelves of plates and cups, and a decorative sign that read: "Do more of what makes you happy."

Times senior researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com. Follow @kathrynvarn. Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com. Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

 
Comments
19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

19 digital billboards now spread word of reward in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — To help spread the word about reward money offered in connection with four unsolved shooting deaths in Seminole Heights, two billboard companies have donated the use of a combined 19 digital billboards.On Thursday, police announced the reward...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Deputies: No injuries after reported gunshot near Seminole schools

SEMINOLE — Deputies are investigating a report of a gunshot that resulted in two schools being put on lockdown Friday morning. About 8:24 a.m., the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received a call at Rita’s Italian Ice, 13147 86th Ave., in Seminole. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

20 injured in fire at Pennsylvania senior living community

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — A massive fire at a senior living community in Pennsylvania injured at least 20 people and forced dozens more, many of whom were unable to walk, into the cold night air. Firefighters were still dousing hot spots Friday, even thoug...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

Watch: Dugan addresses Seminole Heights residents’ concerns at NAACP event

TAMPA — Members of the black community expressed appreciation on Thursday for police efforts to find the person responsible for killing four residents of southeast Seminole Heights in recent weeks.But at a meeting organized by the local chapter of th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa church warns: We are armed and ready to use deadly force

Tampa church warns: We are armed and ready to use deadly force

If you are an evildoer wishing to bring harm to the members of River at Tampa Bay Church, don’t expect congregants to turn the other cheek.They’ll blast you.So says a sign at the church, at 3738 River International Drive in Tampa, that delivers a sta...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Black residents question arrest spike during search for Seminole Heights killer

Black residents question arrest spike during search for Seminole Heights killer

TAMPA — Members of the black community expressed appreciation on Thursday for police efforts to find the person responsible for killing four residents of southeast Seminole Heights in recent weeks.But at a meeting organized by the local chapter of th...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Middle school student fatally struck in Tampa shortly after exiting school bus

TAMPA — A middle school student died after he was hit by a vehicle Thursday afternoon a short time after getting off of a school bus.According to Hillsborough County deputies, 11-year-old Brandon Heard Jr., a student at Mann Middle School, was struck...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Brooksville man accused of sexual abuse commits suicide, police say

Brooksville man accused of sexual abuse commits suicide, police say

A former Brooksville school volunteer accused of sexually assaulting teenage foreign exchange students who were under his care was found dead this week, a day before he was due in court on the charges.The body of Bruce McAllister was found at the bas...
Published: 11/16/17
Clearwater police searching for two men accused of stealing money from apartment drop boxes

Clearwater police searching for two men accused of stealing money from apartment drop boxes

CLEARWATER — Authorities are looking for two men accused of stealing rent checks and money orders from drop boxes at several apartment complexes.From Nov. 3 to 7, the men went to half a dozen apartment complexes, affecting about 40 people, according ...
Published: 11/16/17
Deputies: School instructor offered student $500 for sex

Deputies: School instructor offered student $500 for sex

WESLEY CHAPEL — A former instructor at Cypress Creek High School was arrested Wednesday, after deputies say he offered a student $500 in exchange for sex. William Henson, 21, now faces a felony charge of sexual battery for soliciting a person under 1...
Published: 11/16/17