Fatal shooting revives case of missing woman
By COLLEEN JENKINS and TAMARA LUSH
© St. Petersburg Times,
HUDSON -- The run-down buildings of the Coral Sands Motel off U.S. 19 are a haven for people seeking cheap, no-frills lodging. But on Friday, even those people were leaving the motel.
About 4 a.m. Wednesday, two men wearing black ski masks and carrying guns opened the office door. "He's got a mask," the manager yelled to her boyfriend.
As the gunmen battered the manager's face, Gary Robert Evers burst out of a back bedroom, and the men fled.
Just before midnight on Thursday, inside the same office, Evers confronted a man he thought was involved in the attack. He pulled a 9mm pistol and shot the man "numerous" times, according to official reports.
By Friday morning, Evers had been charged with the first-degree murder of Todd Kammers, 26, a man with a criminal record that includes burglary, battery and battery on a law enforcement officer.
But now the case has taken another turn, reviving hopes that the mysterious disappearance of a Pasco woman might be solved.
About 3 p.m. Friday, a detective called Deborah Cronin. She told the St. Petersburg Times that Evers has long been a suspect in the disappearance of her sister.
The detective "wanted me to know that (Evers) was arrested," Cronin said.
In 1998, detectives had told Cronin that one of the last places her sister, Diane Augat, was seen was the Coral Sands Motel, co-managed by Evers and his girlfriend, Rose Kasper, since 1997.
Six days after her disappearance, the tip of Augat's middle finger was found on U.S. 19 -- one block from the Coral Sands. She has never been found.
Pasco sheriff's officials had no comment on Evers' connection to the Augat case.
The Kammers shooting
Authorities won't reveal exactly how the argument between Evers and Kammers, 26, began Thursday night, but Evers believed Kammers was one of the men who had attacked Kasper on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Evers invited the man into the motel office, a mobile home where he and Kasper also live. Once inside, Evers asked Kammers if he was involved in Kasper's beating, police reports say.
It is unclear if Kammers answered.
Evers pulled out his 9mm handgun and fired its entire magazine into Kammers. Then Evers put a new magazine into the gun and emptied it at Kammers, the sheriff's reports say.
Evers is being held without bail at the Land O'Lakes jail.
An employee at a nearby housing facility said Evers was a nice man.
"Gary's been very good to (us)," said Betty Wright, the night manager for the Gulf Coast Community Care shelter. "He's just been that type of person for us."
Evers has no criminal history in Florida.
But in October 1999, Pasco sheriff's deputies responded to a reported aggravated assault at the Coral Sands Motel.
According to reports, a Hudson man told deputies that he went to the motel in search of a woman he had met at a strip club. After asking about the woman, the man said, Evers pointed two guns at him, saying, "How dare you mess around with another man's woman."
No charges were filed in the incident, and the man was not hurt.
Why Kammers was around the Coral Sands on Thursday night is not known. The motel is a short distance from his home, farther down Maryland Avenue. The last time family members saw him was about 9 p.m. Thursday.
They said a driver on U.S. 19 had run out of gas near Maryland Avenue, and Kammers rode his bike one street over to his parents' home on New York Avenue to borrow his stepfather's gas can. He went to the 7-Eleven for gas, then rode back to help out the stranded man.
"He didn't know what "no' was," said his aunt, Sherie Rabelo of Hudson. "He helped everybody. He had a big heart. That's how this all started."
Kammers was still on probation from a burglary conviction; he had multiple arrests on his record, including selling and possession of marijuana, trespassing, aggravated battery on a police officer, aggravated battery and burglary of an automobile.
The most recent was a burglary charge in February.
A graduate of Hudson High School, Kammers had been working in construction. His family said he was a talented artist, avid fisherman and a favorite among children.
He had a 5-year-old daughter, Felisha, with his girlfriend of seven years, Terra Gutierrez. Felisha told interviewers that she liked to watch Barney movies with her dad, who would make popcorn for her.
"He loved kids, and the kids loved him," said sister-in-law Jennifer Kammers of Hudson. "He loved his family. He had to hug them, he had to kiss them. It was never just hello."
Pasco Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll would not say if Kammers had been involved in Wednesday's incident.
No arrests have been made in the Wednesday morning attack on Kasper, and Doll would not say if deputies had any suspects.
But Kasper believes Kammers was one of her attackers. She said her attackers wore ski masks because they knew the motel managers would recognize them. Speaking from the motel office Friday evening, she shook as she took long drags from her cigarette.
Her left eye was still bruised and red from her beating on Wednesday. She said she wouldn't talk until she had spoken with her lawyer, though she confirmed that she was in the mobile home when the shooting occurred.
And she let it be known that she was angry.
"The punks win," she said.
The Augat case
Augat is officially classified as a "missing person" with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
She was 40 when she disappeared on Good Friday, April 10, 1998.
Five days later, Augat's family received a call on their answering machine. Augat's mother, Mildred Young, said the call was from Augat: "Help -- let me out," Young recalled her daughter saying.
Then, Young heard a scuffling sound and a click that ended the call.
The next day, Augat's finger -- with the nail painted red -- was found by a woman walking along U.S. 19 in Hudson, about a quarter of a mile from the Coral Sands Motel. About a week after that, a bag of her neatly folded clothes was found at an Odessa convenience store.
Sheriff's detectives have questioned more than 100 people in the case.
Young and Augat's sister, Deborah Cronin, said that the initial detective on the case told them that Evers was a suspect and that one of the last places Augat was seen was the Coral Sands.
On Friday, Cronin asked a detective if there was anything in Evers' mobile home that connects him to her sister's disappearance. Cronin said the detective told her that she may have to look at some things from the home.
Now that Evers has been arrested and detectives have searched his mobile home, Young is hopeful that new information about her daughter's disappearance will emerge.
"It's the first break we've had," she said.
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