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Dexter Alonzo LEVINGSTON





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Deaf
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: October 21, 2000
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1975
Victims profile: His grandmother, Nancy Marlins; Michele Murtha, a 12-year-old under the care of her grandmother; Lillie Cacciamani, Marlins' sister; her husband Barry Cacciamani and her daughter Connie Carter
Method of murder: Shooting - Stabbing with knife
Location: Tampa, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to five consecutive life sentences on October 10, 2006

Man Pleads Guilty To 5 Murders

By Thomas W. Krause - The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - Dexter Levingston, accused of five bloody murders in October 2000, pleaded guilty this morning to five counts of first degree murder and received five consecutive life sentences.

He can never be paroled.

Levingston was declared incompetent to stand trial and was in a state mental institution from March 2001 to the summer of 2004.

Levingston is completely deaf in one ear and mostly deaf in another and entered his plea with the help of a court stenographer who typed all the proceedings into a computer so he could read from the screen.

In October 2000, Levingston bought a gun and lay in wait at the house he shared with his grandmother and several others. As each came home from work or school, he used the gun, a machete, a screwdriver and a pair of scissors to kill each one.

The dead included his grandmother, Nancy Marlins, a bus driver' aide; Michele Murtha, a 12-year-old under the care of her grandmother; Lillie Cacciamani, Marlins' sister; her husband Barry Cacciamani and her daughter Connie Carter.


Five killed in Seffner home

Two children are among the victims. A man, who was barricaded inside the house, is being held for questioning

By Amy Herdy, Linda Gibson and Christopher Goffard

St. Petersburg Times

October 21, 2000

TAMPA -- Deputies discovered five bodies Friday inside a home in eastern Hillsborough County after arresting an armed man who had barricaded himself inside.

Officials would not identify any of the victims or give details about how they were killed or why.

Their bodies were discovered after deputies fired tear gas into the home at 4217 Lakewood Drive in Seffner and took 25-year-old Dexter Alonzo Levingston into custody.

Sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder said Levingston, who lived at the home, was being questioned Friday night but had not been charged with the killings. He was being held on three counts of threatening deputies during the standoff.

It is one of the deadliest crimes in Hillsborough County history.

"I can't remember five bodies at one location," Reder said.

Neighbors said Levingston was related to the owner of the home, Nancy Marlins, a 57-year-old school bus aide for disabled children who did not show up for work Friday along with her sister, 56-year-old Lillie Cacciamani, a school bus driver.

School officials sent two security officers to the home about 11:30 a.m. to check on them. When no one responded, the security officers called the Sheriff's Office, Reder said, and two deputies were sent.

As a security officer walked toward the home, Deputy Luke Caggiana peered in a garage window and saw Levingston crouched, pointing a handgun toward the door the security officer was approaching, Reder said.

"He yelled, "Gun!' and everybody backed off," Reder said.

A sheriff's emergency response team was called, and negotiators attempted to coax Levingston from the home. About 3 p.m., deputies fired tear gas into the one- story, concrete-block home, and Levingston emerged unarmed, offering no resistance.

Records show Levingston has a history of arrests in Hillsborough, starting in February 1995, for misdemeanor marijuana possession, to which he pleaded no contest and got four months' probation.

In November 1995, he was charged with petty theft and obstructing an officer without violence. He pleaded guilty to the first charge, but the second charge was dismissed. In March 1997, he was charged with failing to appear in court on a battery charge.

In November 1999 he was charged with resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct. In June 1999 and again in February and March of this year he was charged with drunken driving. His arrest records list him as either unemployed, a laborer or a dishwasher.

Residents of the working class neighborhood were stunned by the killings but said they would not be surprised if Levingston was involved.

"Every time I saw that young man, I just knew something was wrong with him," said Blanche Copeland, who lived across the street from Marlins and described Levingston as "mental."

Levingston often would just stand outside in the yard, Copeland said, smoking a cigarette and staring at neighbors.

"I passed him the other night and I got chills" from the look in his eye, she said.

"He was wearing the same outfit they arrested him in," Copeland said, dark parachute-style baggy pants slung low on his hips, with no shirt.

Cindy Pennington said Marlins, who was best friends with her elderly mother, played cards every week with her friends and would often talk about problems she was having at home.

"Nancy was always taking (troubled relatives) in," Pennington said. "She could never turn them down. I think they were always giving her a hard time."

Blanche Copeland's husband, Comer, said Marlins would sell barbecued meats and potato pies from a neighborhood stand on weekends and was a fixture on the street for watching out for everyone's kids.

In addition to her job as a school bus aide, said neighbor Tracie Silmser, Marlins also cared for a developmentally challenged child in the area.

"She was a beautiful person. She had a heart of gold," Silmser said. "There wasn't anything she wouldn't do for anybody."

Silmser said that while Levingston caused concern among many residents, they still could not believe what unfolded Friday inside the cheerful cream-colored house with blue trim.

"This is the neighborhood where you raise your kids," she said.


Their haven of help turned sour

Six people with tough lives came together for strength, protection and shelter. Now only one is alive.

By Sue Carlton, Kathryn Wexler, Michael Sandler, Sarah Schweitzer and Angela Moore

St. Petersburg Times

October 24, 2000

SEFFNER -- The tidy house on Lakewood Drive was supposed to be a haven for them all.

With her big heart and tired checkbook, Nancy Marlins took them in.

They made up a patchwork family -- the couple that had hit a bad financial stretch, the mentally disabled little girl, the woman who dreamed of her own business and the young man who could not hear and who loved Marlins fiercely.

The house with the freshly painted sky-blue trim grew crowded with their personalities and their troubles. At least once, there had been a violent fight. And last week, sheriff's deputies arrived to find a horrifying scene inside: Marlins and four others slain.

Dexter Alonzo Levingston, 25, was crouched in the garage with a handgun, authorities say. Levingston, who family members say is profoundly deaf, has been charged with pointing his gun at deputies, who drew him out with tear gas.

The investigation remains shrouded in mystery. Detectives won't even say how the victims died.

Levingston's stepfather, William Dennis, visited him in the county jail to look into the eyes of a young man whose face, Dennis says, was marked with bruises and knots. And still, there are no answers, only more mystery. Levingston, he said, will not speak.

"We shouldn't put angels' wings on anybody or blame anybody just yet," Dennis said. "We don't know what happened in that house."

The dead are Marlins, a 57-year-old school bus aide; her sister and brother-in-law, Lillie and Barry Cacciamani, 56 and 47; Lillie's daughter, Connie Carter, 40; and 12-year-old Michele Murtha, a mentally disabled girl in Marlins' care.

It was last year when circumstances began to force a family together.

Barry Cacciamani was in a bind, according to Mike Mondsini, his boss and manager at the Felton's Grocery and Meats in Plant City. The owner of the three-bedroom house Cacciamani rented in Brandon wanted to sell and needed Cacciamani out fast.

Hunched over cardboard boxes in the back room, Cacciamani pored over pages he'd copied from a law book at the Plant City courthouse, hoping to find a way to stay long enough to find another affordable home. He didn't just have himself and his wife Lillie to worry about. Lillie's daughter, Carter, and Carter's two children, 3 and 17, were staying there, too.

In the end, Cacciamani swallowed his pride, stored his furniture and moved everyone into his sister-in-law's house in Seffner in October 1999. It wasn't what the Cacciamanis, each with some 20 years of military service, had in mind.

"He would never have moved in there if he didn't have to," said Mondsini.

The financial troubles piled up. His Volvo needed a $700 repair job. He had to pitch in $1,000 to help bury his mother in New Jersey.

To top it off, the body salon called Slender You that Lillie Cacciamani and her daughter opened in a strip mall on Martin Luther King Boulevard was set to close, said a friend, Dee Frasier. Cacciamani, a man with penchant for cheap cigarettes and an upfront manner that could seem abrasive, would have to stay put.

Levingston was less than thrilled when Cacciamani had moved in.

"He was just one more person in his grandmother's house," said Dennis, his stepfather.

Levingston had been living with his grandmother off and on since the age of 15. Denise Levingston, Marlins' sister, said she adopted Dexter when he was 4 and raised him with her family in Maryland. She said he had spinal meningitis as a baby, which damaged his brain stem and caused his deafness and left him mildly retarded.

Dennis said grandmother and grandson had an especially close relationship made even closer by Levingston's hearing impairment. Levingston didn't know how to read lips or sign language, relying largely on people's facial expressions, but he could communicate with his grandmother. Dennis said his stepson helped Marlins care for her elderly husband before he died and later, her father.

He had begun to add up a minor-league criminal record, according to court documents.

In 1995, he was caught with a plastic bag containing about a gram of marijuana at Chamberlain High, where he was a 19-year-old senior. That same year, he was charged with shoplifting and obstructing justice when he slipped $2.38-worth of Hav-A-Tampa cigars into the pocket of his fatigue jacket and then gave police a false name. He served probation in both cases.

Marlins, listed as his guardian, put up her 1986 Cadillac for his bail.

In his most serious case, he was found guilty of a misdemeanor battery in 1997 and got probation. Pamela Russell, listed as the victim, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Sheriff's deputies already had been to Marlins' house four times this year: a report of a trespasser in July, an assault and battery complaint in March, and twice to serve warrants. Details of those calls were not available Monday.

Michele Murtha, 12, came to the Marlins home in July. Her parents, Thomas and Patricia Murtha of Placida, decided that Michele, who was mentally retarded, needed to be in a residential facility.

But the Brandon home they selected had no room. At the recommendation of the state, their attorney Richard Hirsch said, the Murthas placed Michele in Marlins' home while they waited for a bed to open up.

Tension inside the home worsened.

Cacciamani took a day off last spring and returned to work with his left cheek deeply bruised. Levingston had planted his fist on Cacciamani's face without warning, Mondsini said.

"That night, Barry tried to tell Miss Marlins that this boy is on something," said Mondsini. "She didn't want to hear all that. She loved him too much."

Cacciamani confided in his younger brother, Anton Cacciamani, about the fight with the boy and the need to get out of the house.

In a family of seven brothers, differences were often settled with fisticuffs. But Barry was considered the pacifist.

"He never wanted to fight unless he was pushed to the point where he could not back up," Anton Cacciamani said.

Mary Sims, the bus route coordinator for special education students, knew something was wrong Friday morning.

Marlins was an employee who got on with the kids and the parents, a woman who never missed a day and cleared her vacation requests months in advance. But she hadn't shown up for work. It just wasn't like her.

Arrested after a standoff with deputies, Levingston is being held without bail.

On Monday, those who knew the victims were still reeling in shock.

Sandra Armentrout, a bus driver whose routes overlapped with Lillie Cacciamani, who worked as a school bus driver, wore two black ribbons pinned to her white uniform shirt.

The hardest moment came when a little boy from Colson Elementary School clambered onto the bus. He looked up at her.

"Is Ms. C dead?" he asked.

She had to tell him. "Yes," she said, and started to cry.

Marlins' daughter, Kim Shaw, lingered outside her mother's house Monday. Cacciamani and Levingston hadn't been getting along lately, she said.

"They had some words," said Shaw, 37, of Plant City.

Deputies still taking evidence in yellow envelopes from the house Monday let Shaw inside the taped-off yard long enough to retrieve a hanging plant from a tree.

"She couldn't tell nobody no," Shaw said.


William Dennis, center, a relative of the people who lived in the house where the bodies were found, is comforted by neighbors as he talks with a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy.



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