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Cold case team reopens '96 murder case

One man was found guilty of the crime, but police believe that more people were involved.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published March 31, 2007


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TAMPA - From childhood, Troy McPeak guided and protected his big brother.

He calmed his fear of the dark by holding his hand. He helped him improve in baseball. He held his brother's first baby - his nephew - in his arms and cried with pride.

Now, his brother wants to give back by finding those who murdered McPeak.

On Jan. 7, 1996, Troy McPeak, then 24, was attacked in a city park. His face and head were sliced open with a beer bottle. He was beaten, stabbed and left to die, alone in a pool of blood in the park's pavilion.

"It's like an open wound every single day," said Richard McPeak, 36, who now lives in Orlando.

Police announced Friday that the cold case team would re-examine the killing, aided by the family's reward of $5,000 for information about the murder.

One man - Emillio Demon Jenkins - is serving prison time for the murder, but police believe he did not act alone, said Maj. George McNamara.

He urged any witnesses to come forward with information.

"That's the right thing to do," McNamara said.

Born in Indiana, McPeak was one of three children. The family moved to Hernando County when he was in elementary school. After high school, both brothers migrated south to Tampa. Troy McPeak took community college classes and worked jobs waiting tables.

On their days off, the brothers met for pickup basketball games. They had a game scheduled Jan. 7 in Giddens Park, just south of Hillsborough Avenue east of Interstate 275.

That day, Richard McPeak, then 25, was exhausted. He had a newborn son and worked long hours to support his family. He fell asleep that afternoon and never made it to the park.

Police won't go into details of the killing, citing a pending investigation, but McNamara said McPeak died in an argument at the park at 12th Street and Giddens Avenue.

A passer-by found McPeak's lifeless body, a Bible tucked into his back pocket.

Investigators followed a trail of blood nearly a mile to a house on Emma Street.

Inside, they found Jenkins. He was asleep, his hand cut open. Jenkins was arrested.

Convicted of second-degree murder, Jenkins is serving a 22-year prison sentence, according to the state Department of Corrections.

During the investigation, police uncovered evidence that Jenkins may have not acted alone, McNamara said. But they were never able to build a solid case against anyone else.

As the years passed, McPeak's murder continued to haunt his brother.

"Eleven years is a long time, but every day I think about my brother," he said.

He often leaves bouquets of roses at the park's pavilion.

Each year, he takes the day off from work on his brother's birthday. He spends the day with his three children and thinks of the life his brother never had.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 813 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 31, 2007, 07:04:51]


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