Suspect in home invasion homicide apprehended
Just a few hours after a nearly day-long manhunt ended, one of Southwest Florida’s 10 most wanted surrendered peacefully – clad only in shorts — Wednesday afternoon.
Timothy Wayne Tuttle Jr., 22, was taken into custody about 5:30 p.m. near Jet Port Loop and Interstate 75, just more than 24 hours after a U.S. Marshal’s Task force nearly caught him in the San Carlos Park area, said Lee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Larry King.
Tuttle had been sought in connection with the July 10 home-invasion slaying of Eric Stuebinger, 28, of north Cape Coral.
The Task Force was closing in on Tuttle Tuesday afternoon after following Carl Robert Dugo, 24, and Sarah Christine Lampila, 22, of 3608 Unique Circle, which is west of U.S. 41 South in San Carlos Park, law enforcement reports show. In the Country Oaks area of San Carlos Park, members of the Task Force saw Tuttle flee Dugo’s truck and go into a wooded area. Dugo and Lampila later confirmed Tuttle was the man who fled and they had met with him to give him food, water and money.
The couple had been warned Monday by Task Force members if they gave further assistance to Tuttle, they would face charges of accessory after-the-fact to second-degree murder, law enforcement records show. They had let him stay at their trailer Monday night, officials said.
The pair was arrested Tuesday and charged with being accessories.
After Tuttle fled, Task Force members gave chase but could not catch him. About 130 law enforcement officers and 30 canine teams from city, county, state and federal agencies within Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties searched for the man deemed dangerous, King said.
The search centered near the San Carlos Park area, at one point early Wednesday leading law enforcement officers to Ben Hill Griffin and Estero Parkway and back north. By 6 a.m., employees of My Sons Moving and Storage near Southwest Florida Regional Airport had seen and grappled with Tuttle. That is when Tuttle lost his jeans, King said.
Throughout the night and day, Tuttle managed to escape officials in the densely wooded areas where canals and at least one lake are located on Treeline Avenue across from the airport. He had kept moving north.
Officials made the decision to call off the search about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The searchers and their dogs were becoming exhausted. A veterinarian was on scene to care for the canines.
About 4:30 p.m., “the first call came from someone traveling along the interstate who saw someone suspicious by a Frito Lay truck in the parking area,” King said. “White male, blond hair, no shirt, black shorts. We go back and set up a perimeter in the Jet Port Loop area between Treeline and the interstate.”
A few more calls from citizens and business people in the area came in, then deputies started seeing movement. At that point, a decision was made to converge on the area and a canine began tracking him. A helicopter hovered overhead.
“He got out from the brush and started going to the interstate,” King said. “He saw a bunch of units out there and put his hands up and surrendered.”
The time was about 5:30 p.m.
Tuttle and Terry Ragland are accused of breaking into Stuebinger’s home, demanding drugs and money. They then used a Taser on him before shooting him to death, according to police.
One woman who lives near where the search began Tuesday afternoon said she saw and heard the search.
Sharon Rowlands said she left her house about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and saw several deputies blocking streets near Pine Run Lane, Cypress View and near Three Oaks Elementary School. She saw the helicopters and airplanes flying a search pattern above her house.
A car was searched and she called neighbors to find out what was happening in her usually quiet neighborhood.
A vacant house across the street was searched by canines after a sliding glass door was found open.
“That’s the scary thing,” she said, “with all these vacant houses.”
When she returned home about 9:30 p.m., law enforcement and canines were still throughout the neighborhood.
“We slept with the outside lights on last night,” she said, concerned Tuttle was still on the lam.