A murder suspect who allegedly killed a woman unprovoked is now charged with sexually assaulting other female victims in separate incidents, including in a cemetery tomb.
Cops in St. Petersburg, Florida, allege Tommy Gene Stephens, 52, stabbed Jona Waller, 34, 20 times and abandoned her body in an alley on 37th Street North. Someone discovered her on the day of the murder, March 17, 2023, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. This sparked a search for a suspect, which ended in Stephens’ arrest on March 24.
Surveillance footage showed the defendant, Waller, and a man named Kenneth Thorn a block from where Waller was found dead, according to the arrest affidavit.
“The witness, Kenneth Thorn, admitted to seeing the defendant attack the victim without prompt, stabbing her multiple times, which resulted in her death,” police wrote.
Stephens had also been taken into custody on March 24 for allegedly violating an injunction for protection against domestic violence, authorities said. He allegedly went within 500 feet of a certain house on March 21, according to a redacted arrest affidavit.
“The victim advised [redacted] felt ‘scared to death’ that the defendant was looking right at [redacted] and [redacted] retreated back inside of [redacted] home,” authorities wrote.
The injunction, filed on March 6, is scheduled to run out on March 6, 2033, the affidavit stated.
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Stephens was first arrested for murder in the second degree regarding Waller’s death, though a grand jury on April 27 brought that up to murder in the first degree.
Arrest affidavits dated Monday and Tuesday detail Stephens’ newest legal challenges, this time for separate cases of sexual assault.
On April 18, 2022, he allegedly followed a victim into an encased tomb at the Royal Palms Cemetery, threw her to the ground, and sexually assaulted her until she managed to distract him and escape. The redacted affidavit termed this sexual battery upon a person 12 or older.
Then, on Feb. 16 of this year, he allegedly entered a woman’s bedroom without invitation and while naked. The redacted affidavit describes a sexual assault, and Stephens allegedly threatened the woman. The document labeled this a sexual battery upon a person 18 or older.
Stephens’ arraignment in the murder case is scheduled for May 22. His defense issued a written not-guilty plea on Monday. His defense in the injunction violation case issued a written not-guilty plea on April 19. Access to records in the sexual battery cases is currently limited.
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Tommy Stephens charged with sexual battery
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