Five killed in Seffner home
By AMY HERDY, LINDA GIBSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2000
TAMPA -- Deputies discovered five bodies Friday inside a home in eastern Hillsborough County after arresting an armed man who had barricaded himself inside.
Their bodies were discovered after deputies fired tear gas into the home at 4217 Lakewood Drive in Seffner and took 25-year-old Dexter Alonzo Levingston into custody.
Sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder said Levingston, who lived at the home, was being questioned Friday night but had not been charged with the killings. He was being held on three counts of threatening deputies during the standoff.
It is one of the deadliest crimes in Hillsborough County history.
"I can't remember five bodies at one location," Reder said.
Neighbors said Levingston was related to the owner of the home, Nancy Marlins, a 57-year-old school bus aide for disabled children who did not show up for work Friday along with her sister, 56-year-old Lillie Cacciamani, a school bus driver.
School officials sent two security officers to the home about 11:30 a.m. to check on them. When no one responded, the security officers called the Sheriff's Office, Reder said, and two deputies were sent.
As a security officer walked toward the home, Deputy Luke Caggiana peered in a garage window and saw Levingston crouched, pointing a handgun toward the door the security officer was approaching, Reder said.
"He yelled, "Gun!' and everybody backed off," Reder said.
A sheriff's emergency response team was called, and negotiators attempted to coax Levingston from the home. About 3 p.m., deputies fired tear gas into the one- story, concrete-block home, and Levingston emerged unarmed, offering no resistance.
Records show Levingston has a history of arrests in Hillsborough, starting in February 1995, for misdemeanor marijuana possession, to which he pleaded no contest and got four months' probation.
In November 1995, he was charged with petty theft and obstructing an officer without violence. He pleaded guilty to the first charge, but the second charge was dismissed. In March 1997, he was charged with failing to appear in court on a battery charge.
In November 1999 he was charged with resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct. In June 1999 and again in February and March of this year he was charged with drunken driving. His arrest records list him as either unemployed, a laborer or a dishwasher.
Residents of the working class neighborhood were stunned by the killings but said they would not be surprised if Levingston was involved.
"Every time I saw that young man, I just knew something was wrong with him," said Blanche Copeland, who lived across the street from Marlins and described Levingston as "mental."
Levingston often would just stand outside in the yard, Copeland said, smoking a cigarette and staring at neighbors.
"I passed him the other night and I got chills" from the look in his eye, she said.
"He was wearing the same outfit they arrested him in," Copeland said, dark parachute-style baggy pants slung low on his hips, with no shirt.
Cindy Pennington said Marlins, who was best friends with her elderly mother, played cards every week with her friends and would often talk about problems she was having at home.
"Nancy was always taking (troubled relatives) in," Pennington said. "She could never turn them down. I think they were always giving her a hard time."
Blanche Copeland's husband, Comer, said Marlins would sell barbecued meats and potato pies from a neighborhood stand on weekends and was a fixture on the street for watching out for everyone's kids.
In addition to her job as a school bus aide, said neighbor Tracie Silmser, Marlins also cared for a developmentally challenged child in the area.
"She was a beautiful person. She had a heart of gold," Silmser said. "There wasn't anything she wouldn't do for anybody."
Silmser said that while Levingston caused concern among many residents, they still could not believe what unfolded Friday inside the cheerful cream-colored house with blue trim.
"This is the neighborhood where you raise your kids," she said.
-- Researcher John Martin and staff writer Sarah Schweitzer contributed to this report.
Other multiple killings in the bay area
December 1999: A gunman opens fire at the Radisson Bay Harbor Hotel on Courtney Campbell Parkway, killing four people and wounding three. He later killed a motorist who refused to give up her car. Silvio Izquierdo-Leyva, who was charged in the attack, is awaiting trial.
May 1998: Hank Earl Carr killed two Tampa police detectives and a state trooper after being questioned in the shooting death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son. He then killed himself during a standoff in Hernando County.
January 1993: Paul L. Calden shot five Fireman's Fund Insurance supervisors -- killing three -- before driving to a Clearwater park and killing himself.
June 1989: Oba Chandler killed an Ohio woman and her two daughters after he lured the women aboard his boat.
April 1989: Newton Slawson killed a Tampa couple and their two children and cut an unborn child from the woman's womb.
July 1983: Billy Ferry Jr. firebombed a Clair Mel Winn-Dixie, killing five people and injuring 13.
-- Compiled from Times files.
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
local news desks