Authorities in Florida say a man murdered a Lyft driver and took the victim’s car in an attempt to flee another homicide claim.
An Okeechobee County grand jury indicted Mathew Scott Flores, 36, on Wednesday on a count each of first-degree murder with a firearm, robbery with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for allegedly killing Gary Levin, 74.
As previously reported, authorities chased Flores, saying he killed Jose Carlos Martinez, 43, in Hardee County of Central Florida on Jan. 24. He allegedly fled with the help of Stefanie Velgara, who was charged as an accessory after the fact.
In a press conference on Wednesday, authorities said Flores absconded across central and southeast Florida, stealing several vehicles, changing his hiding locations, and keeping his family and friends in the dark about his whereabouts.
He allegedly went to Palm Beach County, where he abandoned a stolen vehicle in a driveway, and decided to return to North Carolina, where he used to live.
Tragically, that’s how he crossed paths with Levin, authorities said. Flores allegedly got an acquaintance to get him a Lyft. Levin responded, picked up the defendant, and drove him into Okeechobee County, where Flores murdered him. The suspect “cruelly dumped” the victim’s body in a rural, wooded area, authorities said.
Authorities said they finally arrested the suspect, driving Levin’s red Kia Stinger, at the end of a three-county chase ending in Rutherford County, North Carolina.
They forced him off the road, causing him to crash, and arrested him.
Authorities initially charged Flores with murder in the second degree in Martinez’s death, but a grand jury bumped that up to murder in the first degree. He faced charges in North Carolina, including felony fleeing to elude arrest and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, but prosecutors there dismissed the case so their counterparts in Florida could pursue murder allegations.
“The crime was senseless, calculating, and cold. Mr. Levin was a beloved member of the Palm Beach Gardens community,” Special Agent in Charge Eli Lawson said. “He was a father and a friend. His loved ones have experienced an insurmountable amount of grief that no one should ever have to go through.”
Authorities asked for privacy on behalf of Levin’s family.
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Mathew Scott Flores indicted for murder in Gary Levin death
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