tampabay.com

Slain man shared his fortune

After Jeffrey Dampier Jr. won a lottery, he made his family feel rich, too. Now a sister-in-law is a suspect.

By LETITIA STEIN
Published July 29, 2005


LITHIA - For Christmas, Jeffrey Dampier Jr. treated 38 members of his family to a seven-day Caribbean cruise. He bought houses and cars for his parents and nine brothers and sisters. He had grown up with little money in the west side of Chicago, but shared his wealth after picking the winning numbers of a $20-million Illinois Lotto.

On Thursday, authorities continued to search for two suspected in his killing.

Victoria Jackson, a sister of Dampier's wife, and Jackson's boyfriend are accused of shooting to death the 39-year-old FishHawk Ranch resident Tuesday, after kidnapping him and demanding money.

Authorities said his captors left him in his silver 2005 GMC Savana on Magnolia Avenue, a dead-end street in Seffner, and fled on foot.

"They should be considered armed and dangerous," said Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "We did not recover a weapon."

Authorities named Jacksonville as a possible destination for the couple. Hillsborough sheriff's detectives issued felony arrest warrants Wednesday for Dampier's sister-in-law, 23, and her boyfriend, Nathaniel, 24, whose last name is also Jackson.

Investigators recovered fingerprints and forensic evidence from the van. Dampier was shot on the floorboard between the driver and passenger seats, Carter said, noting there was blood inside the vehicle.

On Thursday, detectives showed the van to news reporters. Dark stains were visible on a fabric console between the front seats.

Decals posted on the sides and rear advertised Kassie's Gourmet Popcorn, the flavored popcorn store that Dampier opened in January at Tampa's Channelside entertainment complex. He named the shop for a granddaughter. His mother and brother helped run it.

The third child and eldest son of a baker, Dampier grew up in a close-knit family. He studied auto mechanics and served in the Army. When he and his ex-wife claimed a $20-million Illinois Lotto jackpot in 1996, his fortune offered new ways to bring the family together.

He bought houses and cars for his siblings and parents, according to one of his sisters. She asked that her name not be published, describing the family as private and in mourning.

She said Dampier had three children and two grandchildren. His wife brought two more children to the blended family. Among his siblings, he was the brother everyone depended on, from business advice to fixing cars to babysitting.

He took care of the lawn at the FishHawk Ranch townhouse that he purchased for his parents, less than a mile from the half-million-dollar house Dampier and his wife bought in the subdivision in July 2001, according to county property records.

Most of his siblings, who range in age from 27 to 42, followed Dampier to Florida. He wanted them nearby, his sister explained.

Once a month, they would gather at a restaurant.

His wife's family often joined his family at dinners and holiday celebrations.

The night of his death, Dampier went to his sister-in-law's apartment because she was reportedly having car trouble, his sister said.

He was supposed to meet his wife and other family members at the Olive Garden restaurant in Brandon after swinging by the Jackson apartment at 350 Lakewood Drive.

He never made it.

About 8 p.m., according to sheriff's spokeswoman Carter, Victoria Jackson and Nathaniel Jackson pulled a semiautomatic handgun on Dampier and another woman with them, forcing both into the van. Carter did not identify the woman.

They struck Dampier several times with the gun before shooting him, Carter said. Authorities would not release details about the shooting.

Dampier was dead when deputies arrived, summoned by nearby residents who heard the van running.

The Jacksons are accused of first-degree murder with a firearm, aggravated assault with a firearm, armed carjacking and two counts of armed kidnapping.

Investigators ask that anyone with information about the Jacksons' whereabouts to call the Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 873-8477. A $1,000 reward is available through Crime Stoppers.

Letitia Stein can be reached at 661-2443 or lstein@sptimes.com

ILL FORTUNE
 

MARY FUTCH

MONEY WON: $5-million.

WHAT HAPPENED: The Riverview woman hit a Canadian lottery in 1984. She tried to hire a hit man to kill her daughter-in-law and got five years in prison. She was released in 1991, but not before the IRS auctioned off her belongings. She died in 1993.

 

PATRICK COLLIER

MONEY WON: $1-million.

WHAT HAPPENED: The former homeless laborer won a grand prize at a Holly Hill McDonald's in 2001. Two weeks later, he was charged with beating his fiancee. He got nothing from his first check because he was behind in child support.

 

JACK WHITTAKER

MONEY WON: $314.9-million.

WHAT HAPPENED: The West Virginia resident has been arrested twice for drunken driving, had his home burglarized as an acquaintance lay dead inside, was sued for assault, and was drinking at a strip club when $545,000 was stolen from his vehicle. MICHAEL ALLEN

 

MICHAEL ALLEN

MONEY WON: $5.8-million.

WHAT HAPPENED: Nine years after winning, he had been sued by his lover, had alienated his friends and his family, and was nearly bankrupt. The end came in 1997, when he was found killed in a Lewiston motel room. The motive, police said, was robbery.

Compiled by Staff writer Tom Zucco and Times researchers John Martin and Carolyn Edds.