Tampa Bay columnists
Mary Jo Melone
World & Nation
AP The Wire
Comics & Games
Home & Garden
Advertise with the Times
Fiance demanding answers of police
By MATTIAS KAREN
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 17, 2000
TARPON SPRINGS -- As his fiancee lay seriously injured Friday and the mystery about her whereabouts had been solved, Ed Bunch said he was still searching for answers.
Bunch, 42, complained that police had not notified him she had been found after being hit by a car in central Pasco County on June 3. He also questioned why officers had served a search warrant on his house at 133 Hope St. Thursday and wondered how it could take almost two weeks for his fiancee to be identified, even though he said he reported her missing June 5.
Bunch's fiancee, Tracy Hoban, has been hospitalized in Tampa since June 3, but was not identified until Thursday, when a Pasco County detective discovered a missing persons report that matched her description.
Friday, Tarpon Springs police who participated in the search would not comment on the case, saying the investigation was being handled by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Tarpon Springs police spokesman Sgt. Tom Hill would not release any information about the search.
Pasco sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said all that deputies there had was a missing persons case, which has now been solved. The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the accident, he said.
FHP Lt. Sterling King said he had been told by Pasco officers that blood found in Bunch's house indicated someone had been injured there. Hoban's severe injuries also suggested that something hit her before she was hit by the car that night, he said. He could not say what might have inflicted those injuries, and no charges had been filed.
Meanwhile, Bunch, who works for an air-conditioning company, said authorities have told him little about their investigation.
"They haven't called me yet," Bunch said Friday evening.
Bunch said he first called the Pasco Sheriff's Office on June 5 to say that Hoban suddenly left his car at a stoplight at U.S. 41 and N Dale Mabry Highway Highway the night of June 3. The couple had been arguing, he said, and Hoban grabbed her purse and disappeared. He said he tried to find her that night but could not.
Bunch said he made several follow-up calls to Pasco authorities, but never got any information about Hoban.
The first time he heard from authorities, he said, was Wednesday night, when a Tarpon Springs police officer and a bondsman showed up at his door. Bunch said Hoban owes money to the bondsman.
The bondsman came inside, Bunch said, and apparently saw bloodstains on sheets in a bedroom and a quilt in the garage. Bunch said the blood found in the house belonged to his Rottweiler-Labrador mix, Bear.
That same night, the officer taped off his house and told him to leave. The next day, Bunch was served with a search warrant, and five Pinellas County sheriff's forensic technicians spent most of the day searching his house for clues.
"They never told me much of anything, except throw me out of my home and made me sit across the damn street," Bunch said.
Friday, a friend called him after reading a Times article about Hoban's accident and condition.
"Thank God they found her," Bunch said. "That's the main thing. There is a God, and he is very merciful."
Bunch's boss, Tad Moody, a retired Tampa police officer, said an identification could have been made within days had Hoban been fingerprinted at the hospital. Hoban has a criminal record and had previously been fingerprinted.
King said Friday that he did not know whether Hoban had been fingerprinted.
-- Mattias Karen can be reached at (727) 445-4243 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.