ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman who was initially thought to have escaped from a minimum security prison on Monday was found dead in her boyfriend’s closet Thursday morning.
The grisly discovery was made after a bizarre chain of events that ended with a St. Petersburg SWAT Team entering a home at 3328 21st. St. N. Thursday morning.
Christal Anderson, 34, did not return to the Suncoast Community Release Center at 10596 Gandy Blvd. in St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 27, after being let out for work release. Investigators say Anderson wore a GPS ankle bracelet that allowed her location to be tracked by the center’s staff.
On Sunday staff at the center saw that Anderson’s ankle bracelet had been tampered with. The bracelet also works like a pager and receives text messages. After noticing that the ankle bracelet had been tampered with, the staff at the center texted a message to Anderson asking her to call in.
Michael Paul Brown, 37, called the center and told them that Anderson had been at his house, located at 3328 21st. St. N., and they got into an argument. He said Anderson cut off her ankle bracelet and then left in a car. The couple has a 6-year-old son.
Staff at the center continued to track the bracelet and said it then left the residence. The battery in the bracelet eventually died.
Police went to the home and made contact with Brown but he refused to come out.
His sister, Lisa Marie Brown, says she started texting her brother from outside the house.
“He was just saying that, ‘I love you sis. I know you didn’t have anything to do with it.’ Told me to get my life together and help him out with his son,” the sister said.
Relatives arrived with Brown and Anderson’s 6-year-old son. Although detectives advised against it, the relatives went inside the home, leaving the child outside.
The relatives then told law enforcement Brown was inside the residence with Anderson and he had passed a note under the door.
Lisa Marie Brown says she had been in the home earlier that day and noticed something odd. “I went in there and it was a foul smell, you know. I though maybe dirty garbage, something,” she said.
At some point, Brown texted a relative saying Anderson was dead and her body was in the closet. Brown remained locked in a standoff with the St. Petersburg Police Department’s SWAT team for about 10 hours.
The SWAT team eventually went into the home. Brown shot himself dead after they entered. His body was found underneath a bed. Anderson’s body was found in the closet in the same room. Detectives say it appeared as though she had been dead for several days.
Detectives believe that Brown killed Anderson sometime on Sunday after an argument. Autopsies are being conducted on Brown and Anderson to determine how they died.
“This was a very strange case,” SPPD Assistant Chief James Previtera said. “Mr. Brown’s behavior was very bizarre.”
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office jail records show Brown was arrested in 2011 on a charge of felony simple battery. Anderson was serving time for a 2014 conviction for organized fraud, $50,000 or more. Her prison sentence was three years, according to online records.
Brown and Anderson’s son is being cared for by relatives.
The Florida Department of Corrections released the following statement on Thursday:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Christal Anderson who, this morning, was identified as the victim of an apparent homicide. Anderson had been on a Department approved furlough from her work release assignment at the Suncoast Community Release Center. With approximately five months remaining on her sentence, Anderson’s furlough was approved to assist in the re-entry process and help her gradually reintegrate back into the community. On March 27, 2016, after receiving a cut-bracelet alert from Anderson’s GPS monitor, FDC notified the St. Petersburg Police Department, per standard procedure, who immediately initiated an investigation. FDC is proactively working with the St. Petersburg Police Department, who is the lead investigative authority, to provide assistance. Please contact the St. Petersburg Police Department with any questions regarding this investigation.”
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