TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The parents of the accused Seminole Heights serial killer will go before a judge in their own case on Thursday.
Rosita and Howell Donaldson Jr. have refused to answer questions about their son, 24-year-old Howell Donaldson II, who is accused of killing four people in a string of murders that terrorized the Seminole Heights community.
The couple says they are willing to go to jail to protect their son.
According to their attorney, Ralph Fernandez, they are doing all they can to protect him, including refusing to answer personal and detailed questions about his mental health.
Earlier this week, the parents were interviewed by prosecutors as the Florida State Attorney’s Office began digging deeper into the background of the accused serial killer. Prosecutors want answers about the young man at the center of the case. Did he suffer from mental health issues? What was his state of mind leading up to the murders? Was he under psychiatric care at that time?
The state went straight to the source for the answers, sending a subpoena to the suspect’s mother and father.
Their answer – was no answer.
On Tuesday, after the parents were questioned, their attorney shared with WFLA the reaction of the mother and father when they were asked to provide details about their son. This is how the attorney described the reaction from his clients.
“One of the two said, ‘Testify against our son,’” he said. “’You mean to testify against our baby?’”
Each of them was questioned separately, in different rooms. They gave the same answer to every inquiry.
“Each time the response that was elicited was, ‘I’m not going to answer that question,’” said Fernandez.
Ultimately, the parents refused to give up any information about their son.
“They elected not to discuss any matters that they were asked about because they are not going to be witnesses against their son,” said Fernandez.
The attorney for the parents describes the Donaldson’s as the “perfect family,” married for 30 years, religious and loyal to their son. So loyal that they’re willing to go to jail.
The first time the Donaldson’s saw their son since his arrest was last Friday afternoon in a brief, two minute video conference.
The couple was said to be so emotionally exhausted after the video conference, they had to be helped out of their chairs.