ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - He's the youngest murder suspect on St. Petersburg's most wanted list, just 14 years old. But he's considered no less dangerous, despite his age.
Franco Harris Thomas is wanted for first-degree murder in the beating death of Jeremy Mayers. The 20-year-old college student was found dying on the front lawn of a home in Coquina Key July 8.
Two 16-year olds, Brittany Detwiler and Scionti Hill, have already been arrested for the killing. Police believe that Detwiler used a social networking website to lure Mayers to Coquina Key to rob him.
Thomas was the third suspect indicted by a grand jury for the crime, but he remains on the run, according to police.
"We've seen that a 14-year old involved in a murder nowadays is not something that's very unusual," said Mike Puetz with St. Petersburg Police.
"We've had one of our own officers killed by a young person last year," Puetz said.
Nicholas Lindsey was convicted for murdering officer David Crawford on February 11, 2011. Lindsey was 16 at the time.
J.T. Davis lives three doors down from Thomas' home on 53rd St. North in Pinellas Park. A father of twins, Davis said that he tried to instill values at a young age.
"Everything starts at home," Davis said. "If the home takes care of the kids at home, once they get out, they'll know the difference between right and wrong," he said.
Walter Greenlaw is a single Dad who lives up the street from Thomas. He said his daughter Ashley always keeps her cell phone handy to make sure she can stay in touch with her father. Greenlaw said hearing about his neighbor's age was disturbing.
"That's really young. I mean, it's just sad that somebody that young could create something like that," Greenlaw said.
Investigators believe that Thomas' family knows where the teenager is hiding, but they're not cooperating with police. The family has contacted an attorney on the child's behalf.
A reward is being offered for information leading to Thomas' arrest. Detectives are asking people with tips to call (727) 893-7780.
Police said while it's unfortunate several teenagers are suspected in a murder case, they won't be the last.
"I don't know if we're going to see that trend turn around," Puetz said. "I hope it does."
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