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Utah police arrest possible people of interest in slaying

By Staff | Feb 23, 2009

Utah police arrested a man and woman who may be the two people of interest wanted in an investigation of a homicide aboard a boat belonging to a missing Cape Coral man, according to officials.
Jonathan Lebaron, 32, and Kristena Whitmore, 40, were booked Saturday into the Salt Lake County Jail on Florida warrants related to the killing, as well as local charges, according to police.
Following a nationwide search, an anonymous tip led police to a Motel 6 in Midvale City where the two were staying, said Midvale Police Department Detective Sgt. John Salazar.
“They (Lebaron and Whitmore) picked the wrong town to come to,” he said.
The two may be the people of interest police have been searching for to question about a body discovered Feb. 13 aboard the boat of Richard Gardner, 57, by law enforcement officers at the King’s Pointe Marina on Stock Island.
The Monroe County Medical Examiner had not yet identified the victim Monday night or the manner in which the victim was killed.
According to Salazar, Lebaron and Whitmore had possession of several of Gardner’s personal items upon their arrest, including a wallet, business cards and checkbook.
Gardner was reported missing by his wife the same day the body was found aboard his boat, according to reports. She told police that Gardner had headed to Key West days earlier, and she had lost contact with him.
Lebaron and Whitmore may be the individuals pulled over Feb. 12 in Gardner’s car by Tennessee police. The driver and passenger were subsequently let go because the traffic stop took place prior to Gardner’s reported disappearance and the homicide investigation.
Gardner’s 1999 Mercury Marquis was not immediately found Saturday by Midvale police, Salazar said. Detectives continue to search for the vehicle.
Monroe County detectives are on their way to Utah to take Lebaron and Whitmore into custody. Authorities will bring the two back to Florida if it is determined they are the people of interest in the investigation.
The detectives are expected to arrive in Utah today.