Tampa family claims numerous calls to police department about Seminole Heights killer not returned

Mayor, Police Chief looking into what happened

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa family is distraught after they said they called the tip line and Tampa police directly on a tip about the Seminole Heights killer but a detective did not call back until we intervened. 

Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the police department is working around the clock. He also said they’re getting thousands of tips — last check more than 4,300 and this one from a family may have slipped through the cracks.

Police are looking at the family's video and also evaluating the process.

The woman who spoke to ABC Action News is so frightened, she asked not only to hide their face but disguise her voice. 

Her children suspected they might know something about the Seminole Heights Killer

"They both said yes this is very suspicious. They said it was their civic duty to go ahead and call the tip line...which one of them did," she said.

The woman said her children called the tip line several times. The first time three weeks ago.

"They said someone will get back to you and a month later she still had no call and the 4th murder happened," she said.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE |  Seminole Heights Killer

Frustrated and scared they turned to ABC Action News. We called police too. After we didn’t get a response, we reached out the Mayor’s office. 

"Given the volume of tips we are getting it is bound to happen there is going to be something that slips through the cracks but thankfully we are aware of it now and we are going through it and taking a look at it," said Mayor Buckhorn.

 A detective called the family within an hour of our phone call to the mayor's office.

"My daughter has not been able to sleep because she has been so concerned about this and it took talking to you and getting your influence to even have someone getting back too either one of them. If you had not done something we would still be waiting for a phone call," said the woman.

Action News asked Tampa Police what happened. Spokesperson Steve Hegarty said, "we've gotten thousands of tips and we take each and every one of them seriously. It is possible we did not get back to her quickly enough."  

The woman thinks something needs to be done.

"They should put more responsible people on the telephone. And we even asked if we could email the video and the person who took our call said they could not do that," said the woman.

And while no one will go into specifics. Mayor Buckhorn will say they are now carefully scrutinizing the video the family turned over. 

"We are analyzing it to see if it makes sense, if the pattern fits. There are some things we know that we have not divulged and we need to see if it matches up with what we see on the video," said Buckhorn.

Seminole Heights resident Rufus Reed knows just how vital each tip is and trusts that the Tampa Police Department is doing everything it can to catch the killer. 

"They're doing the best they can, no one is perfect at their job, it's a very difficult situation," said Reed. 

Action News also talked to Chief Brian Dugan late Tuesday afternoon. The chief said he is also looking into the matter.

The mayor added they will also review how calls are handled.

TPD Statement:

Tampa Police follows up on all tips. Though we have received a tremendous volume of tips (more than 4,300 so far) we are determined to handle each of them with urgency and care, and we are grateful for all the help from the community.

Now that I have had a chance to research this particular tip, I can tell you that we received this very specific tip in late October and it was sent to our homicide detectives to investigate. There was a follow up that provided similar information with a reference to a video on social media that might be helpful. That has been investigated as well. 

If there was additional information the tipsters thought might be helpful, they did the right thing by following up again. This case will be solved, and it’s going to take patience and persistence as well as help from the community.

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