After almost a month, detectives still search for a solid lead in the robbery and shooting of a man.
By CHRIS TISCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2001
LARGO -- Not a night passes that one of the children doesn't ask for Marco Waters. Family members can tell them only that their father is with the Lord.
Waters, a father of seven, was shot to death Feb. 26 as he ate a plate of cabbage and rice in front of his girlfriend's High Point duplex. The motive was robbery, as two masked attackers took Waters' wallet, which was stuffed with up to $5,000 the 23-year-old had just received from a tax return, family said.
After ripping Waters' wallet from his pants, one of the robbers stopped and fired one round into Waters' chest, killing him. Neighbors saw the men dart past their houses and vanish into the dark.
No arrests have been made, and investigators say they have no solid suspects.
"I just want to know why they wanted to do something like that," said Waters' uncle, Limbrick Waters. "He never bothered anybody.
"They're taking it real bad," he said of Waters' kids, who range in age from 2 months to 4 years. They often ask, "Where's Daddy?" he said.
The youngsters' cries for Marco Waters punctuate a case that threatens to end a three-year streak for Pinellas County sheriff's homicide investigators.
Not since April 1998 has a homicide handled by them gone unsolved. The investigators have solved 25 cases since then.
The last unsolved case was the death of Donald J. Pare Sr., a homeless man found beaten to death April 19, 1998, under the Seminole Bridge near Bay Pines Plaza. Detectives say they think another homeless man is responsible but haven't been able to get enough evidence for prosecutors to file a charge.
The circumstances of the Waters case present obvious challenges. There were no witnesses who could identify the masked robbers, nor was there an abundance of physical evidence left at the scene.
Investigators hope the robbers will loosen up and tell other people about their deed, which could help detectives track them down.
"I think it's just a matter of time before one of them talks," said Lt. Steve Shipman.
The hottest lead pursued by investigators involved a group suspected in a series of street robberies in Clearwater. Though Clearwater detectives have charged two men and a 17-year-old girl in those robberies, Pinellas investigators ruled them out in the Waters' slaying.
"They're still on the shelf, but they're way back there," Shipman said. "We're kind of at a dead end."
Detectives have inspected other robberies both before and after Waters' death, but none match the manner in which the Waters' case unfolded.
"We haven't had anything up to that time and we haven't had anything since," Shipman said.
Homicide Detective Kevin Bennett said he also has been looking into whom Waters may have told about his plentiful tax return, or if he bragged about it.
"It's really going to be the people in the community who will solve this case," Bennett said. "Without their help, it could die.
"We are working diligently," he added. "They are good people, and we need to find out who did this to their brother, son and friend."
Waters had moved to Americus, Ga., but the night he was shot, he was in town to visit his girlfriend and his sister. The shooting occurred while several of his children slept inside the duplex at 5401 Colfax St.
Limbrick Waters said his nephew's girlfriend has moved out of the duplex. His sister, who also lives there, also wants to move.
"She says every time she goes home, she thinks about it," he said.
Waters said he's disappointed the case is still unsolved. He said he calls detectives every morning to check on their progress.
"I'm not going to rest until it's solved," he said.