Through October and November of 2017, a series of four murders eventually led to the arrest of 24-year-old Howell Donaldson III that shook Florida's Seminole Heights. After a lengthy process, a 2020 trial date for the accused killer was finally announced, but many were still left with more questions. If you find yourself getting caught up in knowing more, here’s a list of 10 things you need to know about the Seminole Heights Killer and his case.
1. The victims include Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton. Before being caught, 110 thousand dollars in donations went towards a reward for his capture.
JUST IN | Reward for Seminole Heights killer increases to $110K after latest donation. What we know about the manhu… https://t.co/zMXBdgg1xs— ABC Action News (@ABC Action News)1511205652.0
2. Donaldson was arrested and charged with the murders on Tuesday, November 28 after a tip about a man with a gun at a Ybor City McDonald’s led police to the suspect. After gaining consent to search Donaldson’s car, cell phone, and firearm, police charged Donaldson with four counts of first-degree murder.
BREAKING TPD announces arrest of alleged Seminole Heights killer. CORRECTED LINK: https://t.co/UR37hr2q1t— Spectrum News 13 (@Spectrum News 13)1511929297.0
3. While Donaldson told police that he was unfamiliar with the Seminole Heights neighborhood and didn’t know anyone in the area, his cell phone records showed calls from the AT&T tower in the area of the homicides being made within minutes of the murders.
Tampa Police just released this picture from 7 years ago of the accused Seminole Heights killer, Howell Donaldson.… https://t.co/aMLHew5Gy9— VeronicaCintron (@VeronicaCintron)1511929632.0
4. A witness delivered a McDonald’s food bag with a gun inside that had been given to them by the suspect, after which Donaldson stated to the witness that he wished to leave the state. The gun model matched that of the casings found at the murder scenes. Donaldson later admitted to purchasing the firearm and that no one had used it other than himself.
#BREAKING: Tampa Police chief says they got tip about someone with a gun at #Ybor McDonalds. Officers recovered gun… https://t.co/zsAPQOXCpt— VeronicaCintron (@VeronicaCintron)1511906885.0
5. In January 2018, it was announced that the State would seek the death penalty against Donaldson.
NEW: SAO will seek the death penalty in case against Seminole Heights serial killer suspect Howell Donaldson III… https://t.co/4pjPQEK1WB— CarsonChambers (@CarsonChambers)1516721963.0
6. Donaldson’s parents were held in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about their son and were put under house arrest.
BREAKING: Suspected Seminole Heights Killer's parents being held in contempt of court for not answering the court's… https://t.co/c3ons7crLv— 𝙻𝚊𝚞𝚛𝚊 𝙰. 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚛𝚒𝚜 (@𝙻𝚊𝚞𝚛𝚊 𝙰. 𝙷𝚊𝚛𝚛𝚒𝚜)1518798486.0
7. After viewing a security tape of a man in the area of the murders, a woman who Donaldson had stayed with for a time said she believed it to be him in the video.
8. A not guilty plea was entered on Donaldson’s behalf by his attorney at his arraignment which he did not attend.
Accused Seminole Heights killer will make his first court appearance today #fox35 https://t.co/ggEuSqavD9 @TB_Times https://t.co/Xh0fCtUWoz— Ryan Elijah FOX 35 (@Ryan Elijah FOX 35)1512045144.0
9. Donaldson’s parents have remained supportive of their son through this time. They did mention to police that they had noticed a change in him during the time of the murders but did not suspect something so severe.
#BREAKING | Parents of suspected Seminole Heights killer appear in court. Prosecutors want info parents may have pe… https://t.co/3wV8n2VWWS— ABC Action News LIVE (@ABC Action News LIVE)1518793958.0
10. His next disposition is scheduled for April 14, 2020. His pretrial hearing for the trial is scheduled for August 4, 2020.
SEMINOLE HEIGHTS KILLER CASE | 2020 trial date set for accused Seminole Heights killer Howell Donaldson III… https://t.co/ESwt5Fyyxh— ABC Action News (@ABC Action News)1565703578.0
The trial is set to take place this summer, with the official date having been decided at his last disposition in 2019.
*Cover photo used for illustrative purposes.