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Arrest made in 2003 killing
A fingerprint on a bottle leads to a man in Minnesota.
By THOMAS LAKE, Times Staff Writer
Published December 14, 2007
Dorothy Mink was raped and beaten to death at age 71.
TAMPA - The old Penny Hammock departed four years ago, on the night she made the discovery, and in her place is a woman who does not smile so much, who always locks her doors, who will not go out alone after dark.
The new Penny Hammock got a phone call Wednesday night from Tampa police Detective Eric Houston. He said they had caught her mother's killer.
Hammock did not rejoice.
"I screamed," she said. "And then I threw up."
The images had come back.
It was Sept. 11, 2003, and Hammock was going to check on her mother, Dorothy Mink, who lived alone at the Camden Westshore apartments at 4800 S Westshore Blvd. Mink was 71. Hammock found her dead on the bedroom floor.
The police said she had been raped and beaten to death with a blunt instrument. Fingerprints and DNA from the scene yielded no suspects. Years passed, and the case went cold.
It was eventually assigned to Houston, who asked a technician to compare a fingerprint from a wine bottle in Mink's home to suspects in a national fingerprint database. This time, they got a match.
Police said the print - as well as DNA collected from the victim - matched a man named Michael Lord Owens, 44, who was in the custody of Minnesota authorities on an unrelated criminal sexual conduct case. Houston said he was a drifter, with no real connection to the Tampa area, and it appeared he and Mink were strangers.
Owens is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of armed sexual battery. State records put him in Florida in 2003 - he was arrested on a minor charge in Jacksonville that June and Seminole County that July - but in an interview with the detective, he denied being in Tampa at the time of the murder.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.