TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The man arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of four people in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa is being held without bond at the Hillsborough County Jail until a bond hearing on Tuesday.
Suspected serial killer Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, made his initial court appearance Thursday morning on charges of first-degree murder.
A judge ordered that Donaldson be held without bond on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton who were shot within a half mile of each other between October 9 and November 14. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Police said the break in the case came Tuesday at a Ybor City McDonald’s after Donaldson gave his handgun—identified in a police report as a loaded .40-caliber Glock—in a food bag to a coworker, who turned the gun over to police.
According to an arrest affidavit, the gun confiscated Tuesday contained five unfired rounds of SIG brand Smith and Wesson .40 bullets, a direct match to the fired cartridge casings recovered from all four murder scenes.
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Donaldson admitted that he owned the gun, but did not admit to the murders.
Cell phone records obtained by detectives showed Donaldson was within minutes of the first three murders and that his cell phone was geographically associated with cell towers in the area.
Police received more than 5,000 tips connected to the case.
“For the community’s safety, we will be seeking that the defendant be held without bond,” the State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.