[an error occurred while processing this directive]
The woman was found dead in her home near Brooksville. The suspect says the shooting was an accident.
By DAN DeWITT
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003
BROOKSVILLE -- A woman nicknamed "Sunshine" apparently lay dead in her home east of Brooksville for two days after her boyfriend shot and killed her Thursday morning, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office reported.
Tiffany Anne Hampshire, 32, was found Saturday by two friends who had grown concerned that she was not answering her telephone or showing up for work at the Walgreens drug store in Brooksville.
Her boyfriend, Jeffery Scott Sipple, 58, called deputies Saturday night from his brother's house in Hillsborough County to say that he had accidentally shot Hampshire after she pulled a gun on him.
He was charged with manslaughter the next day after deputies determined the evidence contradicted his story. Deputies arrested him at his brother's home and took him to the Hillsborough County Jail. He was released on $20,000 bail Monday morning.
The Sheriff's Office withheld reports and other information about the case because it is an ongoing investigation, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Joe Paez.
Among the possible developments, according to prosecutor Don Scaglione: Sipple might be charged with second-degree murder.
"There's a potential for the charges to be upgraded," he said.
Sipple told deputies the two had argued after Hampshire returned to the house they shared at 7155 WPA Road about 3 a.m. Thursday.
Though Scaglione and Paez would not say why the deputies did not believe Hampshire had been shot accidentally, the press release said it appeared she had died of more than one gunshot wound.
Hampshire's friends, Monica Molesch and Diane Lundh, went to the small blue house on WPA that -- according to county records -- Hampshire bought in 1996.
The back door was open, said Lundh's husband, Edward, and the two walked in to find a recliner covered by blankets. When they lifted the bottom of the blankets to reveal Hampshire's feet, Edward Lundh said, they ran from the house and called the Sheriff's Office.
Molesch, of Spring Hill, said she had previously worked with Hampshire at another Walgreens. Hampshire, who was a chief pharmacy technician at the Brooksville store, was intelligent, Molesch said.
She also was "a beautiful person. A free spirit," Molesch said. "Her nickname was "Sunshine' because she was happy and that was the name she liked."
But Hampshire also was "involved with the wrong person," Molesch said. She sometimes called Molesch when she had trouble with Sipple. "I was her refuge."
Most recently, she called about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Molesch said.
"I was the last person to talk to her" she said, though she did not reveal what Hampshire said because the investigation is continuing.
Sipple, on the other hand, does not have a sunny disposition, said Howard Humerickhouse, who lived next to the couple on WPA Road.
"He's kind of grouchy," Humerickhouse said.
Sometimes he could be friendly, such as when he sold Humerickhouse an air conditioner. At other times he was unfriendly for no apparent reason, and Humerickhouse attributed it partly to Sipple's chronic knee injury.
"I think he was in pain."
Another neighbor, Ken Hagert, said that like Humerickhouse, he had little contact with the couple. He once drove them to St. Petersburg to pick up a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Another time, Hagert said, "I was over there when (Sipple) shot a water moccasin" with a pistol.
Both neighbors and Molesch said Sipple kept several large dogs chained to the trees behind the house.
Jim Varn, the county's animal services supervisor, said the animals appeared to be wolves crossed with Siberian huskies. His office found eight of them on the property, the largest weighing about 130 pounds, the smallest about the size of a German shepherd; all are being held at the animal services compound.
"My wife or anybody else couldn't go near them or else they would (have) killed them," said Edward Lundh, who said he had never been to the house. "When she said she was going over there on Saturday I advised her not to."