LAKE MAGDALENE, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating a homicide after a woman was found dead in the Lake Magdalene area on Monday night in an apparent murder-suicide.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said deputies were called to a home in the 14000 block of Cherry Lake Drive at 7 p.m. for a welfare check. Chronister said friends of the victim were worried she might be in trouble after they hadn't heard from her for about 24 hours.
"They know that there's some history of domestic violence abuse between her and our suspect so they called us for a welfare check," Chronister said.
At the scene, Chronister said deputies tried to make contact with the suspect, identified as Charles Siminski, 52, but he refused to cooperate. At that point, the sheriff said it became an active scene.
Chronister said the deputies saw a Jeep Compass backed up to the front door. He said when the deputies looked around the Jeep they saw what they believed was a body in a plastic bag in the back of it.
Chronister said the deputies called a supervisor who then called in the S.W.A.T. team and crisis negotiators.
"They specialize in peaceful resolution and that's what our goal was here today," Chronister said.
Chronister said crisis negotiators made several attempts to get Siminski to come out but he refused. According to the sheriff, they worked to get him to come out from about 11 p.m. on Monday to 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
After dialog with Siminski stopped for nearly two hours, Chronister said the sheriff's office deployed a chemical irritant in an attempt to get him to come out. Chronister said there was no response.
After using a robot to clear most of the home, Chronister said deputies broke the back bedroom window where they believed Siminski was. Inside, the sheriff said he was found dead on the bed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to Chronister, there were two active domestic violence cases pending against Siminski that involved the victim. The sheriff said the woman called to report abuse in September and again in early December.
Chronister said Siminski was arrested in September when the victim called to report abuse. In December, Chronister said Siminski was unable to be found.
Chronister added that the December call came after the victim reportedly jumped out of a limo on North Dale Mabry Highway following a domestic violence incident with Siminski which left the victim with a laceration to her head.
"Anyone out here who's watching and is a victim of domestic violence, or knows someone that's a victim of domestic violence, there is another way. There is a solution. There is help that's available, you just have to ask for it," Chronister said.
He continued, "Please, I'm asking anyone — don't ever stay in a situation because you think you have to and end up like our victim did today. Please, contact The Spring of Tampa Bay at 813-247-SAFE — that's 7233. There are options, you just have to ask for help."
The Spring of Tampa Bay is a local nonprofit that provides "safe spaces and empowering services to survivors of domestic violence and their children," according to its website.
Other ways to reach out for help:
- 24-hour Spring TTY hotline for deaf and hard of hearing: (813)248-1050
- Florida domestic violence hotline (800)500-1119; (800)621-4202(TDD)
- National domestic violence hotline: (800)799-7233
"This is not your fault no matter what the abuser says to you. These choices are choices that he makes and you are not responsible for his battering of you ever," said Mindy Murphy, President and CEO of The Spring of Tampa Bay.
"We can help you with safety planning because we know that the most dangerous time for a survivor is when she’s left the relationship or when she’s thinking about leaving the relationship," added Murphy.
Chronister later added that the home was owned by Siminski and the victim didn't live there but did spend a lot of time there. She owned the Jeep where she was found, the sheriff said.
The victim is described as a white woman in her 40s. Her name is not being released due to Marsy's Law, Chronister said.