Crime

A serial killer tallied his victims in a man’s blood, cops say. His math was off

Tampa police release new video in serial killer investigation

The Tampa Police Department on Thursday released a new video showing what they describe as a "person of interest" in an investigation of a possible serial killer in the area.
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The Tampa Police Department on Thursday released a new video showing what they describe as a "person of interest" in an investigation of a possible serial killer in the area.

He wrote “4 Stop Wait Time” in the blood of his fourth victim, a macabre message from the mind of a suspected serial killer. Detectives say the “4” represented the number of killings a man committed in the wee hours on the streets of Fort Lauderdale and Lauderhill.

Next to the body of the fourth victim, Derick Westley Tucker, 46: a blood-covered handsaw and machete and the scrawled message.

But detectives think the suspect was hasty in assigning his number. His unnamed second victim who was shot in the neck and left for dead remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The victims — five targeted, three killed — were all homeless men. At a news conference Wednesday, Fort Lauderdale police, who teamed with detectives from Lauderhill, said they have charged security guard Nathaniel Maurice Petgrave with the murders. The Broward Sheriff’s Office report lists three counts of premeditated murder, committing or attempting to commit a felony that could cause death, armed burglary of a business and unarmed burglary of a vehicle.

Petgrave was homeless, too, living in a makeshift camp he built in Plantation at the corner of State Road 7 and Northwest Eighth Place. Police found more than two dozen live rounds of 9 mm bullets that match casings from the murder scene that are in evidence, the Sun Sentinel reported.

“To the best of our knowledge and everything we’ve looked at, we don’t believe he targeted these victims for any reason other than their availability,” Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Steve Novak told CBS4, the Miami Herald’s news partner.

The killer’s victims include Larry Scott, 65, who was shot while sleeping at an abandoned gas station in Lauderhill on Oct. 20. The second man, who survived, was shot there that morning, too, detectives say.

The next morning, on Oct. 21, John Jackson, 50, was killed by a bullet to the head in the parking lot of a Dixie Food Store two blocks from Fort Lauderdale’s police headquarters. Police think Petgrave took aim at another man there but his shot missed.

Tucker was next, on Oct. 27, in the daylight hours of the morning, while sleeping in a Public Storage unit in Fort Lauderdale.

Detectives found Petgrave in a black Chevrolet pickup truck that had been stolen in Miami Gardens on Sept. 18. Petgrave told officers they will never find the gun he used, WPLG Local 10 reported.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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