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Foul play suspected after man vanishes

By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
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published January 11, 2002

TAMPA -- After learning that his twin brother's car had been found on fire in an orange grove in rural Hillsborough County, Darrell Stillings tried to reach him on a cell phone.

A man answered, but it wasn't David Stillings.

"It was a guy in Miami at a construction site, saying he answered a phone that was ringing in a Dumpster," Darrell Stillings said.

David Stillings, 35, hasn't been seen or heard from since before Christmas. He didn't tell his employer -- Hillsborough County -- or his family that he was going anywhere. Police suspect foul play.

Stillings' family said he would not leave the area without telling anyone. He worked for Hillsborough County as a truck driver for the solid waste department. A Tampa resident for about 30 years, Stillings also has siblings and a mother in Tampa. He lived alone in an apartment near MacDill Avenue.

He "babied" his car, a black 1992 Dodge Stealth, his family said.

His family last saw him around Dec. 15, said Darrell Stillings, who lives in Atlanta.

At 11:30 a.m. Dec. 24, the Dodge was found abandoned and on fire at Earl Reynolds Road and Highway 674 east of Fort Lonesome.

Along with Stillings' cell phone, some personal items were found at the construction site south of Coconut Grove, near Miami.

Stillings is 5 feet 7, 160 pounds, with short hair and brown eyes. He has a muscular build.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Tom Singleton at (813) 276-3546.

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