Tampa woman's body found in Ga. river; former Plant City football player charged with murder

TAMPA, Fla. - A former Plant City High football player has been arrested on a Georgia murder warrant after a Tampa woman's body was found with a gunshot wound to the head in a southeastern Georgia river.

Josh Helton, 25, was taken into custody by Hillsborough County deputies on a murder warrant from Telfair County, Georgia, after a fisherman stumbled on the body of Judy Murrow, 64, of Tampa, last week in the Ocmulgee River. 

"Upon checking it out, they realized it was a body, so they left the scene and reported it to the authorities," said Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson.

She had been shot in the head. Her body is believed to have been put in the river Monday or Tuesday. Her truck was found in Georgia.

Her son, Kenneth Murrow, 45, of Tampa, said he knew right away something must have happened to his mother because, he said, she rarely traveled -- especially out of state.

Murrow said when he was told by investigators his mother had been killed, he went to her house on Hobbs Street and found her truck and a personal firearm missing.

"She had a little gun she kept. A little .22," Murrow said. 

During interviews, Murrow said detectives told him they recovered a handgun at a Pinellas County pawn shop, along with a piece of his mother's jewelry.

It is not yet known if that gun is believed to be the murder weapon.

Murrow said he claimed Helton as the murder suspect when Helton showed up at his house in a vehicle with a Georgia tag.  

"He said he was delivering watermelons up there," Murrow said, after he noticed the car was too small to carry large amounts of fruit.

He said Helton didn't own a truck. "I knew it had to be him."

Investigators are looking into the possibility Helton stole the truck and Murrow's gun before allegedly killing her.

"[Helton] was a good guy," Murrow said.

He has known the Murrows for the past year and visited for dinner on several occasions.

Helton is listed as a player on the online roster of the semi-pro football team Brooksville Ballers and was a former football player at Plant City High School.

Murrow said his mother would make meals large enough for a Helton, a large man, to enjoy.

"I don't understand it."

"I can't believe what I'm hearing, to be honest," Jeff Benzel, a neighbor of Murrow's for more than a decade, said Sunday.  "She was a quiet neighbor who kept to herself. Never bothered a soul."

Since her death, he has been going through her belongings, while trying to figure out why she was killed.

"It kills me. It eats me up."

Detectives are working to determine if Murrow was murdered in the Bay area or somewhere else in Florida or Georgia.

Murrow said he's trying to raise enough money to transport his mother's body back to Tampa.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments