Saturday, June 19, 2004

Murder suspect claims death accidental- 06/19/20

Venice Gondolier - 06/19/20

Murder suspect claims death accidental

A 25-year-old Venice man accused of murdering a Sarasota prostitute told police the woman attacked him and that he didn't mean to kill her.

An updated arrest probable cause affidavit said that Eustorgio Leonides Facundo told investigators that he was drunk when prostitute Theresa Knight, 41, of Sarasota tried to take his wallet before attempting to hit him in the head with a bottle. Facundo and pregnant girlfriend, Heather Joslin, 20, are accused of dumping Knight's body and setting it on fire on Karney Street in Gulf Cove.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, Facundo told investigators on May 24, he had gone to 1656 Ninth St. in Sarasota with Knight. Facundo said he believed Knight wanted money for sex and she attempted to take his wallet. Facundo said the woman nearly overpowered him, but he bit her on the arm in order to get away from her. He said after Knight tried to hit him in the head with a bottle, she also tried to choke him with a cable, but he was able to take it away and wrap it around her neck until he realized she was choking.

Facundo told police he then realized Joslin was outside the residence and heard the disturbance, so he placed his hand around Knight's neck until she became still.

The report said Facundo then told his friend "Fadul," who was outside, what happened. The two checked Knight, and upon realizing she was dead, agreed to burn down the house. Facundo told police he also showed the body to Joslin, and had her drive him to a 7-Eleven convenience store where they bought a 1-gallon container of water. The container was emptied and filled with gasoline at a Hess station.

Change of plans

Once they returned to the residence, the couple decided not to burn the house down, but to get rid of the body instead. Facundo said "Fadul" helped him place Knight's body in a black plastic bag and into Joslin's vehicle. Facundo then painted over where Knight's blood had stained the bedroom carpet.

Facundo and Joslin then took Knight's body to a wooded area of Gulf Cove, where they poured the gasoline on top of the corpse and set it on fire. The report said Facundo wore a rubber glove on one hand to keep the blood off.

Charlotte County Fire & EMS responded to the fire, where the badly burned body was discovered. The report said the body was observed to have bled from the mouth and nostrils, and ligature marks were found around the neck.

On May 26, Charlotte County Sheriff's Office investigators said they had received information that Facundo had killed Knight and Joslin had helped him dump the body.

A day later, Facundo and Joslin were contacted by the Sarasota Police Department. Facundo was detained because of his illegal alien status. Joslin told investigators she had driven her boyfriend and the body to Charlotte County. She also told investigators that Facundo had scratch marks on his upper arm from Knight's fingernails.

Joslin was released from the Sarasota County Jail on $1,000 bond. Facundo remains in the jail, awaiting arraignment on July 2.


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