Man is found slain in estranged wife's yard

She discovers his body and calls the authorities, who say she is not considered a suspect.

Published June 8, 2007

LITHIA - Thomas Lee Sehorne, who turned up dead in his estranged wife's back yard, spent much of his time on the Great Lakes where he was first mate on a tugboat.

He'd come back to Florida on furloughs.

Since the split with his wife, Christine, he'd been staying with his parents in Ruskin, said his brother, Ben. But this time they didn't even know he was in town.

"Usually someone knows when he's coming home," Ben Sehorne said.

Thursday morning, Christine Sehorne called the police. She had found her 37-year-old husband lying dead behind the Lithia house they once shared.

Authorities say someone killed him.

What he was doing in Lithia is still a mystery.

A spokesman for the Hillsborough Country Sheriff's Office said that Sehorne sustained wounds to the upper body, but wouldn't elaborate on the cause of his death.

Christine Sehorne told detectives that she saw Sehorne alive at 11 p.m. on Wednesday. Authorities said she is not a suspect.

The couple's two children, David, 6, and Elizabeth, 4, were picked up by Christine's mother Thursday morning.

Sehorne's uncle, Gene Shaw of Ruskin, said his nephew "grew up on the water." His father, Thomas Sehorne II, was a charter boat captain.

As a child Sehorne struggled with dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder, Shaw said. But by age 20, Sehorne had obtained a license to captain 200-ton vessels, Shaw said - an unusual achievement for someone so young.

He wanted to captain his own tugboat and was working his way up through the ranks, Sehorne's brother said.

Shaw said that when his knees and back gave out, Sehorne would chop wood for him. "He'd do anything for us," he said. "He just channelled his spirit and love into everyone he knew."

He said Sehorne was troubled by his estrangement from his wife. "He wasn't giving up on his marriage easily," he said. "He loved her dearly, he loved the kids dearly. He just refused to see any fault in her at all."

But Sehorne's death was a horrible shock, Shaw said.

"He had a passion for life," Shaw said. "Until today I would never in my wildest imagination think that Lee had an enemy in this world."

The Sheriff's Office is investigating.

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached at srosenbaum@sptimes.com or 813 661-2442.