Seminole Heights Murders: One on one with Chief Brian Dugan

By Sara Belsole, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, December 03, 2017, 2:14 PM EST

Four victims. Fifty-one days. And countless sleepless nights for Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.

  • One on one with Chief Brian Dugan
  • Tampa Police Chief opens up about Seminole Heights investigation
  • After two months, department still plagued with unanswered questions

"I think my biggest fear was there would be a fifth victim,” Dugan said. “That is what kept me awake at night."

But that nightmare ended Tuesday at an Ybor City McDonald’s with the arrest of Howell Donaldson III.

"I refuse to mention him by name,” Dugan said. “I have four victims. Those are the ones who need to be remembered, not him."

Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton are the names the community will remember. Just as they remember the thousands of hours officers put in to help catch a killer.

"They’re very tired,” Dugan said. “Sometimes cranky, but they are also very dedicated. I think some of them had to go home and reintroduce themselves to their families since it’s been close to two months since they’ve seen them."

But after two months, the department is still plagued with unanswered questions. Why would Donaldson kill four innocent people? And why did he pick Seminole Heights?

"There was kind of an empty feeling when we did not get those answers, but I am learning through my 27-year career that there’s just somethings I am never going to get the answer to,” Dugan said.

Dugan is also learning about life in the spotlight. He became the face of the investigation even before he was officially named chief in November, taking on the role of top cop during one of Tampa’s most trying times.

"To have four unsolved homicides roll in together so quickly, it’s not something I wanted on my resume and it’s something, a burden, I will carry the rest of my life, but it will also serve as a reminder and a motivator as to why I get up every day,” Dugan said.