LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland Police say a 22-year-old was formally indicted on two first-degree murder charges on Thursday. Chief Detective Sam Taylor said the suspect is "absolutely a predator."
According to a press release, Ladevon Cottingham was charged for the deaths of Takeria Adderly, 22, and Ricky Kimball, 65. According to police, Cottingham was released from prison two weeks before the murders.
Adderly was reported missing June 30 and her remains were found July 29 near Fairbanks Street and Bella Vista Street. Police say she was shot one time in the back of the head.
Kimball was also reported missing on June 30. According to police, Kimball was working his normal shift at Circle K when he walked outside for a break around 1 a.m. and never returned. His body was found July 2 in the 900 block of E. Bella Vista Street.
According to a press release, the two cases were thought to be separate initially. After a nine-month investigation, police say they identified Cottingham as the suspect for both.
Cottingham was arrested for the murders in August. Online records show he was charged with several other offenses including robbery with a firearm, tampering with evidence, false imprisonment and armed kidnapping.
Chief Detective Sam Taylor said they started to investigate Cottingham in Adderly's disappearance because her last phone call was with him around 2 a.m. on the day she went missing. Taylor said the two knew each other through a family relationship.
According to Taylor, authorities believe Cottingham called Adderly after killing Kimball. Taylor said they believe Cottingham hoped Adderly would help him in some way and when she declined, Cottingham killed her.
Taylor said they believe Cottingham killed Kimball during a robbery, but added that they would never know for sure. Taylor said Kimball's cause of death was strangulation.
Adderly's vehicle was found abandoned on July 7. Taylor said surveillance video from June 30 showed Adderly's vehicle being driven to the area where it was dumped, and Cottingham was seen on video walking from the area about a minute later.
Taylor said a witness who told police Cottingham called them early on the morning of June 30 described him as sounding "panicked" and said he needed to be picked up. The witness told police when they picked Cottingham up he was wearing only his underwear and has a brown paper bag that had a gun inside.
Cottingham was initially arrested in August for an armed home invasion that took place on July 4. Taylor said during a press conference that Cottingham robbed people he knew and took their car in an effort to leave town.
Cottingham was interviewed after his robbery arrest and admitted to speaking with Adderly on June 30 but denied being involved in her death.
In September, detectives received cellphone records that showed Cottingham's was in the area of the Circle K around the time Kimball went missing. Taylor said that was when authorities realized the two cases were connected.
Taylor said in March 2021 police received lab results that confirmed DNA taken from inside Adderly's vehicle matched Kimball, which proved his body was in her vehicle sometime before he was discarded.
Police identified a different person of interest in Adderly's disappearance in July when her car was located. Taylor said on Friday that person admitted to taking her car from where it was initially dumped but denied knowing anything about her disappearance.