'Seminole Heights killer' was searched on Google from suspect's phone during alleged killing spree

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-27 23:04:12-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Accused Seminole Heights killer Howell Donaldson III reportedly searched the internet for news on the murders during his alleged killing spree, newly released documents reveal.

On Friday, authorities released several documents that revealed Donaldson's digital trail.

Investigators obtained a search warrant that gave them access to Howell Donaldson III's AT&T cell phone. According to the warrant, Donaldson's web history included numerous Google searches for "Seminole Heights killer," and "Seminole Heights," on October 27, 2017, and November 14, 2017.

October 27 was after Benjamin MitchellMonica Hoffa and Anthony Naiboa were murdered in the Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights. The fourth victim, Ronald Felton, was murdered at approximately 4:51 a.m. on November 14. The newly released documents do not state what time the searches were made.


The documents also expose web history also showed Donaldson had been visiting the Tampa Police Department's Twitter and YouTube pages, where they frequently posted updates about the case and any and all leads they had at the time. 

Timeline of the murders:

  • Monday, October 9: Benjamin Mitchell, 22 was killed at approximately 9 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 11: Monica Hoffa, 32, was shot. Her body was found on October 13.
  • Thursday, October 19: Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot at approximately 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 14: Ronald Felton, 60, was shot at approximately 4:51 a.m. 

Donaldson's location history records show that his phone had recently been in the area of the 1300 block of E Frierson Avenue on October 9 between 8:47 and 9:02 p.m., on October 11 between 8:18 and 8:42 p.m. and on October 19 between 7:51 and 7:58 p.m.

The records show that within minutes of the murders on October 9, October 11, and October 19, Donaldson's cell phone was geographically associated with the AT&T cell tower providing coverage for the areas that include all the homicide locations.

On November 28, 2017 — the day Donaldson was arrested and charged with four counts of First-Degree murder — he had multiple searches and cell phone activity related to flights.

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