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Arrest made in strangling of teen in park

A man stopped on the night of the killing, but released, has been charged with murder.

Published January 7, 2006

[Times photo: Chris Zuppa]
Ron Tomlinson, right, discusses the arrest of Joshua Rosa, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tomlinson's son, Stephen.

Joshua Rosa was taken into custody by deputies at the time of the murder, but was released after being questioned.
Stephen Tomlinson was found strangled Dec. 8 in a park in Carrollwood's Logan Gate Village subdivision.

TAMPA - The 19-year-old neighbor of a teenager found strangled in a suburban park last month was charged in the killing Friday by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said Friday night that Joshua Rosa, 19, of 12412 Mondragon Drive, has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Stephen Tomlinson, 13, of Carrollwood's Logan Gate Village subdivision.

Tomlinson was found dead Dec. 8 in a county park near his home.

Rosa was taken into custody at the time of the slaying, but released after being questioned. Gee said he has been under surveillance as investigators pursued the case.

The evening the body was found, neighbors noticed Rosa coming out of the wooded park, with a pair of gloves and carrying a flashlight, and they held him there until deputies arrived.

The sheriff credited DNA evidence as key in the case, including blood from Tomlinson found on gloves Rosa had with him, and DNA from Tomlinson on nail clippers Rosa was carrying.

Rosa's explanations for his actions that evening were "inconsistent," Gee said. Rosa said he found the young boy in the park, and tried to render first aid, he said.

Rosa was being held Friday in the Hillsborough County Jail without bond. In booking records he listed his employer as a sales representative for Sports Authority.

Gee said Rosa and Tomlinson were acquaintances, but investigators do not know the motive for the crime. He pointed out that Tomlinson's clothing was in "disarray" when he was found, and said "you can draw your own conclusions."

Rosa had "defensive type wounds" on the night he was initially questioned, and his explanation about them "just did not add up," Gee said.

[Last modified January 7, 2006, 01:09:14]

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