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    Woman's throat cut; yard man suspected

    The victim, 64, was left bruised and bloody. The suspect is also accused of slashing his wife.

    By AMY HERDY, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 18, 2002



    James McCoy has a history of mental problems and is considered armed and dangerous.
    TAMPA -- The two neighbors had planned a morning of errands to Home Depot and the grocery.

    Instead, Mary Gross found Gloria Dixon lying on a recliner in Dixon's living room Friday morning, her face bruised, her throat bloody.

    As another neighbor called 911 from her cellular phone, Gross strained to listen to her friend. She could barely talk.

    "I did get out of her it was the yard man," Gross, 82, said.

    Tampa police are now searching for James McCoy, 27, who had often worked in the yards off N 17th Street and E Waters Avenue, a tree-lined neighborhood of small homes.

    McCoy, who has been committed to a psychiatric hospital in the past, is considered armed and dangerous, police say.

    Hours before attacking Dixon, Tampa Detective Jerry Keith said, McCoy cut the face of his wife, Pashen McCoy, with a butcher knife at their home at 3417 E Diana St. Mrs. McCoy was treated and released at St. Joseph's Hospital.

    After attacking his wife, it's not clear what McCoy did for several hours, Keith said. Just before 10 a.m. Friday, he knocked on the door of Dixon, a 64-year-old retired cemetery employee who had hired him in the past for yard work.

    McCoy asked to borrow jumper cables to start his car, Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin said, and as Dixon turned to go inside her home, he attacked her.

    "He grabbed her from behind, cut her throat, then dragged her to the back of the house where he stomped on her and beat her," Durkin said.

    McCoy fled in Dixon's white 1993 four-door Honda station wagon, with license number XNG 96Y and a Disney tag on the front. Dixon was taken to Tampa General Hospital with broken ribs and multiple cuts and bruises. She was listed in critical condition.

    The attack angered Cynthia Alicea, 44, who came to help Dixon after being flagged down by Gross.

    "That someone would do something like that to someone who is so kind . . ." Alicea said.

    She called Dixon a friendly neighbor who took in stray cats and "would help anyone."

    Mary Gross struggled Friday to make sense of what happened. She had hired McCoy and his wife from an ad in the Penny Saver, she said, and recommended them to Dixon. Gross stopped hiring the couple, she said, after they kept showing up on her doorstep without calling, asking for more work.

    Friday afternoon, police cruisers sat parked in McCoy's back yard. Police said two young children who lived at the home have been placed with relatives.

    Records show that on May 4, Tampa police charged Mrs. McCoy, 27, with using a kitchen knife to attack her husband. She was released on her own recognizance.

    Early Friday, "I heard all this screaming," neighbor Darryl Henry said. A woman was crying, 'Help, help, somebody help me!' "

    Henry, who said the McCoys fought often, peered down the street. He saw a man get in a car and drive away fast.

    A small boy stood crying in the street. "Somebody help my momma!" he called out.

    A woman's voice yelled: "Come in the house and close the door!"

    Henry went back to bed.

    -- Amy Herdy can be reached at 226-3386 or herdy@sptimes.com. Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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