MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35)
Citrus County deputies said a couple from Ocala is in custody following a crime spree that included multiple burlgaries and possible murder.
Deputies said 41-year-old Darren Decker and 44-year-old Jessica Baker, Ocala, were arrested in Sumter County where they are facing multiple burglary charges. Officials said they are investigating the couple possibly murdered renowned composer Don Plumeri during one of the burglaries.
In January, officials said Citrus, Sumter and Marion Counties started having a string of burglaries that appeared to be related. Deputies said the burglaries happened during the day, mostly in rural areas when the victims were not home.
Deputies said in most cases the doors were pried open and items like guns, cash, jewelry and drugs were stolen. All the victims reported a pillow case was missing from the home after the burglary.
Citrus County deputies said there were at least 13 burglaries reported.
On April 1, Marion County deputies responded to the Dunnellon home of Don Plumeri to do a well being check. When they arrived on scene, the found Plumeri with multiple stab wounds and dead inside the home.
Through investigative work, deputies determined it was Decker and Baker who broke into his home, officials said.
“Mr. Plumeri suffered at the hands of Darren Decker,” Capt. Brad Smith said. "We know that Mr. Plumeri was inside his home when the suspects broke in. We believe that Decker brutally murdered a very talented man who certainly didn't deserve to die this way. Our continued prayers are with his family and friends."
Although many persons of interest were identified, a major break in the case came as a result of Decker selling stolen property from a prior burglary. This information helped lead detectives to Decker and Baker, who were arrested in Marion County on April 18, for a burglary that had occurred that day in Sumter County, officials said.
Officials said investigators are combing through evidence to match up stolen items to specific burglaries in Citrus and surrounding counties and to bring homicide charges against the couple.
"We have a long way to go with processing the enormous amount of evidence we have in this case and all of the other burglaries," Sheriff Dawsy said. "As a result of these two arrests, our residents can feel safer in their homes and breathe a sigh of relief. This was a real "who-done-it" with very few leads and I can tell you that everyone who worked on this case worked non-stop to catch these people. All of the men and woman involved in this investigation went above and beyond to bring closure to this case. They committed a heinous crime.... We got them and they are no longer a threat to our community. It’s also important to remind our citizens that this couple was not responsible for every burglary in our area since January - but I am confident we have two individuals in custody who killed an innocent man."