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Strangers at party now tied in death

A Dunedin man killed a woman he had never met before his costume party, then shot himself, investigators say.

By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2001


A Dunedin man killed a woman he had never met before his costume party, then shot himself, investigators say.

DUNEDIN -- After a Saturday night Halloween party, a house in a quiet neighborhood near downtown Dunedin became the scene of a murder-suicide, sheriff's investigators say.

Keith E. Henderson, a 30-year-old man who lived at the home at 976 Dumont Drive, shot and killed a 27-year-old woman who stayed after the party ended early Sunday, investigators say.

After killing Kristie M. Vermillion of 11475 81st Ave. N in Seminole, Henderson killed himself with the same .380-caliber handgun, said Sgt. Greg Tita, Pinellas sheriff's spokesman.

Henderson and Vermillion had never met before the party, Tita said.

"It's not like he had a relationship with her," Tita said. "This wasn't a love triangle or anything."

Henderson had been living in the house with his girlfriend, Margaret Somerville, also age 30. When Henderson began flirting with several other women at the party, including Vermillion, Somerville left frustrated and angry and spent the night at the home of friends, Tita said.

About 30 to 50 people attended the costume party, Tita said, and the last couple to leave the party about 1:30 a.m. Sunday told investigators the only two people remaining when they left were Henderson and Vermillion.

Somerville tried to call her house several times Sunday and received no answer, so Sunday morning she went to her home with her friends. That was when they found the bodies of Henderson and Vermillion in the bedroom and called police. Deputies arrived about 9 a.m., Tita said.

Henderson left a note, Tita said, but "it doesn't say much other than 'I'm sorry.' " The motive for the killings was unclear.

"We may never know," he said.

Detectives said Henderson and Vermillion hadn't met before Saturday. Both worked at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, but in different departments: Henderson in radiology and Vermillion in emergency. Vermillion also worked in the emergency department at Mease Countryside Hospital, where Somerville works, said Amy Lovett, a spokeswoman for Morton Plant Mease Health Care. Lovett could not confirm what positions any of the three held, but none were doctors.

Neighbors said that they sometimes saw Henderson and Somerville doing yard work, such as cutting down a dead tree.

But most neighbors hardly knew the pair, not even their names. Somerville bought the house in the 1950s subdivision for about $100,000 at the end of April, according to county records.

Neighbors said the Halloween party Saturday wasn't out of hand. They heard people laughing and talking outside and music playing.

Sunday morning, four crime scene investigation vans and other Sheriff's Office vehicles were parked there. The remnants of the Halloween party's decorations lay behind yellow crime scene tape around the white ranch house with green shutters. There were bales of hay, pumpkins and a scarecrow in a red flannel shirt and jeans near the front door.

"It's pretty sad, whatever happened," said Silvia Silva, who lives across the street. "All I heard was just some people outside laughing and having a good time."

-- Staff writer Robert Farley contributed to this report.

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