Sheriff's detectives are seeking a 17-year-old in the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend's father at their Clearwater home.
By CHRIS TISCH, BRIAN MOORE and LEON TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001
CLEARWATER -- By the time he was 13, Scott Lang had been arrested on charges of theft, mischief and probation violation.
But acquaintances said Lang, a foster child, had begun to turn his life around. He joined Hope Presbyterian Church. A church member took him into her home. And Lang started dating a girl who attended the same church.
Suddenly, in recent weeks, things went awry. Lang, now 17, skipped work. His relationship ended. He missed Bible study.
On Tuesday afternoon, authorities say, he showed up at the Clearwater-area home of the girl he had been dating. He fatally shot her father, Richard E. Hosking. Investigators said Lang waited for his ex-girlfriend to come home, then for the girl's mother. He held the two of them at gunpoint until they agreed to give him the keys to Hosking's car.
Lang was still being sought late Tuesday.
Pinellas sheriff's detectives were at the State Attorney's Office to obtain a murder warrant on the Pinellas Park High School student.
Sheriff's officials said Hosking, the assistant director of the Pasco County Health Department, had attended a conference at the Belleview Biltmore Hotel a few miles from his home on Tuesday. When the conference broke for lunch, he drove home.
"We said, "Come on, Richard, we're going to go to lunch,"' recalled his boss, Dr. Marc Yacht, director of the Pasco County Health Department. "He said, "No, I'm okay."'
Investigators didn't know if Lang was waiting at the home or if Hosking arrived first, but they found no signs of forced entry, said Marianne Pascha, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
Sheriff's officials said Lang used a handgun to shoot Hosking near the front door, where he died. It was unknown Tuesday how long Lang was at the house, but Hosking's teenage daughter arrived home from school about 2:30 p.m., officials said.
Lang was holding the gun when she arrived. He sexually assaulted the girl.
Her mother pulled her red Saturn to the curb in front of the home before 4:30 p.m. Lang forced the girl and her mother to sit on a sofa, then demanded the keys to Richard's silver Honda, sheriff's officials said.
Deputies were summoned to the home, 1820 Northwood Drive, about 4:30 p.m. after a 911 call was placed from a neighbor's home.
Neighbors said they heard no arguing or gunshots.
Tuesday evening, the garage door of the Carolina-blue home remained open as forensics and crime-scene investigators examined the scene.
The inside of the garage was as neat as a military locker. An orange extension cord had been wrapped tight, then hung on the wall. Garden tools and shovels also hung from the wall in a neat row.
Glenda O'Dowd and her husband have lived next to the Hoskings for about 15 years. She said the entire family is quiet, but that their solitude only made them closer to one another.
"Oh, and he loved to exercise," she said. "I think he probably rode his bicycle everyday. He seemed to be a picture of good health. And he was very church-going. The whole family is."
Neighbors described the neighborhood as safe and cozy, a place where doors and windows remained unlatched. The only crimes were a few strands of toilet paper laced on tree limbs at Halloween.
"That's why we moved here. It's a family-oriented neighborhood," said Jeff Kolba, an eight-year neighborhood resident. "We're all shocked."
Classmates said Lang is a junior and hasn't been in school all week.
Eric Tiracl, who sits in front of Lang in a World History class, said Lang keeps to himself and isn't involved in any extracurricular activities. He described him as a loner who often slept through class.
Tiracl had worked with Lang at the Kash N' Karry at East Bay Drive and Keene Road. Lang, a cashier, had only worked there for about a month, then started missing work early last week, said Jason Sibert, the store's grocery manager.
"He came in to ask for his job back, but we couldn't give it to him," Sibert said. "He was a great worker when he showed up. He was always very courteous to customers, and we never found anything wrong with his money tray."
Lang missed three consecutive days of work last week and never called to explain. Lang set up an appointment to meet with a supervisor last Thursday, but he missed that, too. Sibert last saw Lang Monday when he came in wanting his job back. Lang told Sibert he had been missing work because he was moving.
Workers at the store used to joke about Lang's hair, which he was constantly changing colors, Sibert said. Lang's hair was "peroxide white" when Sibert last saw him, and he described it as "canary yellow" when he was hired.
"He laughed with us all the time about it," Sibert said. "This is a big surprise to me that he might do something like this. He was always very polite and very helpful here."
Anyone with information about Lang's whereabouts can call the sheriff's office at 582-6200.