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Body found under mobile home identified

It was the owner, who was missing for about a month before authorities were called.

By CRISTINA SILVA
Published March 11, 2007


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LARGO - Authorities confirmed Saturday that the body found Thursday beneath a mobile home was the owner, Patricia Steck.

They are looking for her roommate, William F. Hommel, 61, for questioning. Hommel has an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a grand theft charge. He was last seen around the mobile home park on about March 3.

Neighbors at the Oak Crest Mobile Home Park, at 9925 Ulmerton Road, long did not notice the absence of the quiet woman who sold odds and ends at the local flea market and rented out a room in her mobile home to help make ends.

She had been missing for more than a month when her body was found buried in concrete under her home.

Now, residents are wondering how the blond woman who decorated her trailer with used knickknacks ended up dead under her own home.

"It is just so shocking," said neighbor Ardath Shafer. "We have never had anything like that happen here at all. It is just so unexpected."

Steck, 68, was last seen by neighbors Feb. 4, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. An out-of-state relative reported her missing March 2.

Investigators conducted several "welfare checks" last weekend, but Steck was nowhere to be found at her home. Her car also appeared to be missing.

On Thursday, deputies returned to the home and discovered the body. Officials would not say what prompted them to search under the floor.

Detectives were able to identify the body as Steck's through dental records. The cause of death was still unknown Saturday.

"The last few days have been used in processing the home and the remains and the materials that the remains were found in," said Marianna Pasha, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. "We are following some investigative leads in trying to locate Mr. Hommel. We are also trying to retrace some of her steps prior to the point that she was last seen."

Neighbors said they rarely saw Hommel around the mobile park and did not know when he moved in.

Richard Bush, 89, who lives two doors away from Steck's mobile home, said the only time he ever saw Hommel he was driving Steck's car.

"I would like to get to the bottom of this," Bush said. "We want to know what happened."

Steck was retired, but earned a small income from selling used goods at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market in Pinellas Park.

Her carport was frequently overflowing with items she intended to sell at the market, Shafer said.

Steck was the mother of four grown children, Kristin Goetz, Doug Goetz, Scott Goetz, and Kerri Ackerman.

Steck was a good woman, Doug Goetz said Saturday afternoon, but declined to comment further until the criminal investigation was complete.

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 10, 2007, 20:45:39]


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