Grand Jury Indicts Roommate In Perry Murder UPDATED

UPDATED: 7/17/10 A Pasco County grand jury has indicted James Davis on a first-degree murder charge in the May slaying of comics and television writer Stephen Perry.

Police in Zephyrhills Florida have charged James Davis with first degree murder in the death of comics writer Stephen Perry.  Davis, who had shared a room at Perry’s house, had been named as a “person of interest” in the case and was being held on other charges. Investigators, who have been working the case for over fifty days, say that two bottles of bleach, purchased by Davis on May 13 and later found at the murder scene, led them to the arrest.  Davis’ wife, Roxanne, who also shared Perry’s home and is currently being held on an outstanding warrant, has not been charged in the killing.

Authorities also confirmed that an arm found in a Tampa dumpster and a torso later found in a wooded area in Pasco belonged to Perry. At this time no other body parts have been located.

TampaBay.com is reporting:

Zephyrhills police Capt. Robert McKinney would not elaborate on what other forensic evidence helped authorities build their case against Davis. More evidence may yield other suspects — and turn up a more concrete motive, McKinney said.

“Drugs and monetary remuneration are in consideration,” he said, referring to the possible motive.

Davis’ wife, Roxanne, 49, who was also arrested in the days after Perry’s disappearance on unrelated charges, has not been ruled out as a suspect, McKinney said.

Perry went missing in May. His van was found abandoned May 16 at a Quality Inn off Bearss Avenue in Tampa, where authorities found the severed arm. Officers went to Perry’s home and discovered it had been ransacked.

In a jailhouse interview shortly after his arrest in May, James Davis told the Times that he and his wife moved in with Perry around Christmas to help him pay his bills.

Perry was unemployed and battling bladder cancer, although he still tried to craft comic books. Davis said Perry was abusing prescription drugs.

“I liked him at first,” Davis said in the May 24 interview. “But he was hooked on drugs, bad. That’s the reason he let me in.”

Perry’s friends have sharply disputed that description, saying Perry was taking prescribed medication for an excruciating illness. He received support from The Hero Initiative, a Los Angeles-based charity that helps comic book artists who have fallen on tough times.

Davis told the Times he had nothing to do with Perry’s disappearance or death. He said he last saw Perry at a flea market, researching material for a new comic book.

When he came by Perry’s home a few days later and saw police there, Davis fled to a relative’s home.

Davis, who has served three stints in prison for robbery and kidnapping, said he feared he would be arrested for failing to appear in court on a charge he drove without a license.

Court documents have revealed that Perry was killed by a gunshot and that Davis borrowed the power tool used to dismember his body, returning it with the traces of human tissue on the inside of the blade guard. Tests determined they were Steve Perry’s.

Tampa Bay Online is reporting:

His blue Dodge van was found at the Quality Inn at Bearss Avenue and Interstate 275 in Tampa on May 16. Investigators found a black plastic garbage bag in one of the motel’s trash bins.

One of Perry’s arms was found in the bag along with four pairs of rubber gloves, according to an arrest affidavit. Davis’ DNA was found on the gloves.

In the van, deputies found two bags of powdered lime, a tarp, a 5-gallon gas can, a package of latex gloves and a box of trash bags.

The next day, deputies found a black plastic trash bag in a trash bin at State Road 54 and Allen Road in Zephyrhills. Inside was a circular saw with what appeared to be blood and cloth wedged in the blade guard, the affidavit states. A large pillow covered in blood and blood-soaked sheets also were found. The pillow had a bullet hole in it.

On June 2, detectives found Perry’s decomposing torso wrapped in a tarp on a vacant lot at 26148 Foamflower Ave. in Wesley Chapel. Davis’ mother lives nearby, the affidavit states.

By using sales receipts found in Perry’s van, investigators were able to obtain surveillance video of Davis making purchases at a Walmart and Kmart in Land O’ Lakes and a Home Depot in Zephyrhills, the affidavit states.

Among Davis’ purchases were a circular saw blade, trash bags, gloves, twine, a tarp and bleach, according to the affidavit.

Detectives also acquired video of Davis using Perry’s ATM card at two Zephyrhills banks in the five days after his death. According to the affidavit, each video shows a white male driving to the ATM in Perry’s van. The man is wearing various disguises, including a mask, sunglasses, a wig, a bandanna and a camouflaged hat.

A mask similar to the one seen in the videos later was found in Perry’s house at 38048 Eighth Ave. in Zephyrhills. Investigators searched the house May 17 and 18 and again on June 29.

Two new names have been connected to events following the murder. Charles Lumley, a friend of Davis, rented a room at a Quality Inn for the suspect on May 14-16 and joined him shopping for two bottles of bleach at a local Home Depot. The second was Donald Carmichael, who lent Davis the reciprocating saw used to dismember the body. Neither has been charged in the case.

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