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    Ex-girlfriend was murder suspect's target

    Investigators detail the killing of a Clearwater man. A search continues for the suspect, deemed dangerous.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2001

    CLEARWATER -- Scott Lang slipped through the back window of his ex-girlfriend's house Tuesday, planning to ambush the teenager when she came home from school, investigators say.

    But her father, Richard E. Hosking, came home instead. So Lang used Hosking's .45-caliber handgun to kill him, investigators say.

    Then Lang waited.

    The girl arrived about two hours later, her mother about an hour after that. He sat them both down and started talking.

    He wouldn't admit he killed the husband and father whose body lay near the front door, but he talked of killing himself. Then he demanded the car keys and left.

    Lang hasn't been seen since.

    Investigators' chilling account of Lang's rampage marks what friends, family and authorities say is a life marked by inconsistencies.

    There is the Scott Lang who clung closely to his church and was a model employee when he showed up for work. Then there was the Scott Lang who rebelled against those who cared for him by stealing or running away from home.

    "He was troubled beyond repair from the beginning," said Debbie Lang, his foster mother. "He turned out to be someone who didn't want to follow rules."

    Investigators on Wednesday continued their search for Lang, 17, who they say also assaulted Hosking's daughter. Authorities had a judge sign a first-degree murder warrant Tuesday night for Lang, who took Hosking's gun and is considered dangerous, Pinellas sheriff's officials said.

    Sheriff's officials issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide, checked local hotels and advised their patrol deputies to keep an eye out for Lang or the Hosking family car he took, a silver 1997 Honda Civic with the license plate VMP-74P.

    "We're working hard at it," said sheriff's Lt. Steve Shipman, who said about five detectives are working on the case.

    Since 1993, Lang has been listed as either a victim, suspect or witness in more than 25 cases in the Largo and Clearwater area, records show.

    Several are cases in which Lang ran away from home. He often told police and classmates that he was abused by his foster father, Steve Lang. Police investigated his complaints five times, but never found a reason to file a child-abuse charge. Steve Lang repeatedly denied the allegations.

    Scott Lang moved out of his foster parents' home last year and had been staying recently with families from Hope Presbyterian Church in Clearwater.

    The Langs said Scott and his brother Mark, 20, came to live with them about 10 years ago. During that time, they said, the boys would disappear from their Largo home and stay away for days at a time.

    "We don't know why he did what he did," said Steve Lang, a statistics professor at the University of South Florida. "I'm glad some people tried to help him, and we tried to help him in the past. But he hasn't lived here in a year. We're sorry the whole thing happened.

    "We've had a long history with him, and it's very complicated. When this is all over, then we'll collect our thoughts and try to reach some kind of an explanation.

    "All we know is he was unhappy."

    Some of Lang's Pinellas Park High School classmates said he was involved in the school newspaper and yearbook. He went to football games and wrote stories and took pictures. He was intelligent and talented but hadn't applied himself over the past two years and often slept in class, friends said.

    He also has an obsession with pineapples. Almost all his shirts were decorated with pictures of pineapples. He dyed his hair yellow, then dyed the hair at the top of his head blue-green so it looked like pineapple leaves. People called him the pineapple man, said fellow junior Lindsey Roberts, 17.

    Friends say he was picked on a lot. But he never fought back; he usually laughed along.

    "He never caused any problems in class. He got along with people or he slept," Roberts said. "He was like the perfect kid."

    Roberts said she appeared in court on a battery charge last spring, and Lang was there for a theft charge. Lang told her he took a VCR from his house when he moved out and was arrested.

    Some friends said Lang often bragged about stealing cars, though no one took him seriously.

    "Nobody really believed him. Everybody thought he was lying," said classmate Kandice Hyatt, 16.

    Friends said Lang talked lovingly of his girlfriend, but sheriff's officials said she may have not considered the relationship a serious one.

    "He didn't have it easy at home," Roberts said. "And he was in love with his girlfriend and would talk about her all the time."

    Pinellas school officials stepped up security at Pinellas Park High and at the school Hosking's daughter attends. Those security measures will remain in place until Lang is caught.

    "A lot of people were scared," said Roberts, who added that some students stayed home from school Wednesday.

    Some of Hosking's friends were surprised to learn that he kept a gun in his house. He bought the gun legally in 1994, Shipman said.

    Hosking's friends say the tragic irony of the case is that Hosking was a man who helped people, including Lang.

    Both Lang and the Hosking family attended Hope Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. Hosking, 55, helped direct the church youth group Lang attended, and Lang began seeing Hosking's daughter. Even after they split up, Hosking usually welcomed Lang at his house, sheriff's officials said.

    "That's Richard. Richard had a human touch," said Dr. Marc Yacht, director of the Pasco County Health Department, where Hosking was assistant director.

    Hosking was on the management council for Healthy Families, a program that helps potentially troubled families.

    "He worked so that the lives of people and families and children could be better in Pasco County, and here this happens to him. It's a sad day," said Kathy Bell, the program manager for Healthy Families.

    Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Scott Lang can call the Pinellas Sheriff's Office at 727-582-6200.

    - Times staff writer Ryan Davis contributed to this report.

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