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Man charged in home invasion, kidnapping

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 2, 2002

THONOTOSASSA -- A neighbor noticed a stranger lurking around Beasley Lane on Friday morning, but word did not get to Charlotte and Edward Lacy in time.

The man schemed his way into the couple's home by feigning car trouble and asking to use the phone.

Once inside, he struck Charlotte Lacy, 65, on the head several times. The man tied her up and pushed her and her husband, Edward, 75, who is deaf, into a closet. He rummaged through the house before coming back to the closet, demanding the Lacys give him money and the key to their 1999 Chevrolet S-10 pickup.

The robber fled in the pickup, but because it was equipped with a LoJack signal device, sheriff's deputies soon were on its trail. They spotted the vehicle at Gibsonton Drive and Interstate 75 and a high-speed chase began, all the way north on the interstate to the Martin Luther King Boulevard exit and east on Pine Street.

The pickup's driver swerved off the roadway to avoid stop sticks placed by deputies and came to a stop at Pine and Highway 92 in Seffner.

When Deputy Herbert Saumell pulled his gun and ordered the two men in the pickup to get out, the pickup driver attempted to speed away but struck a patrol car. Deputies smashed the pickup's side windows and dragged out its two occupants.

The truck's driver, Christopher Cheatham, 29, of 38108 Blackbird Lane, Zephyrhills, was charged with the home invasion, two counts of armed kidnapping, aggravated assault on a person 65 years or older, battery on a person 65 years or older and aggravated fleeing and eluding.

Lawrence F. Floyd, 36, of 11714 Bradley Road, Thonotosassa, was charged with vehicular trespass. Floyd was in Orient Road Jail Friday in lieu of $500 bail.

Floyd did not take part in the robbery, said Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

"It appears sometime after Cheatham stole the truck, he picked up Floyd," Carter said.

Mrs. Lacy was treated at home for minor injuries.

Cheatham has been arrested several times since 1991 on charges that include resisting an officer, battery, and aggravated assault. Floyd has a criminal record dating back to 1990 and was arrested in June for attempted murder. That case is still pending.

-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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