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Saturday, June 14, 2008

FL- Man Found Dead in Phosphate Pit Was Murdered, Police Say

6-14-2008 Florida:

Authorities identified the body found Thursday as William Hough, 39, of Lakeland.

LAKELAND | Police have identified the body found in a reclaimed phosphate pit Thursday as lifelong Lakeland resident William Joseph Hough, 39, and are calling his death a homicide.

Police were dispatched to BridgeWater subdivision, between Interstate 4 and State Road 33, about 3 p.m. after a body was seen floating in the pit.

The Medical Examiner's Office will not release the cause of death because of the criminal investigation, according to Lakeland police spokesman Jack Gillen.

A missing person report, filed about 3 p.m. Wednesday by Hough's mother, Linda H. Hough, identifies the subdivision as the last place he was seen Tuesday. The report said foul play is suspected.

Hough's parents learned of his death Thursday night.

"It's kind of empty right now - my life," his father, William D. Hough, said.

Hough lived with his parents and had a younger brother and an 8-year-old son, relatives said. He made his living as a welder.

Hough became a registered sex offender after being convicted of committing lewd and lascivious acts in the presence of a child under 16 in 1989 and 1990. According to the Department of Corrections, Hough served about four years in prison between 1992 and 1999 for lewd and lascivious acts and grand theft.

"I was never ashamed of the boy," William D. Hough said Friday.

"He didn't get a decent job," Hough said. He said his son's status as a registered sex offender often interfered with his attempts to apply for jobs. "When you're down, it is really hard to get up."

His mother recalled how much Hough resembled his father and that he had an affinity for fishing, hunting and comedy.

"He was the spitting image of his daddy when he was born," Linda Hough said. Her son would have turned 40 on June 22.

"He was a good person," she said. "He believed in giving everyone a chance."

Her sentiments were echoed by a close family friend, Ashley Hall. She became acquainted with Hough when she began dating his cousin. She now cares for his grandmother, Carolyn Hunter.

Hall said Hough thought there was good in everybody.

According to Hall and Hunter, in 2005 Hough drove 500 miles to bring Hall's son his dog, a boxer, after he moved to Atlanta and realized pets were allowed in his building.

"He was a beautiful, kind soul," Hall said. ..News Source.. by Stacy Jones and Shoshana Walter


2 Men Surrender in Lakeland Mans Death

6-23-2008 Florida:

Feud may have led to incident at pond where William Hough died.

LAKELAND A feud over a burned motor home may have ended the life of a Lakeland man whose body was found last week in a phosphate pit.

Two men surrendered to authorities late Wednesday, and police released information on how William Joseph Hough, 39, may have been killed.

George Scott Sloan, 33, and Michael James Wilson, 26, accompanied by their lawyer, turned themselves in at the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Bartow, Lakeland police said.

According to detectives, Hough and Sloan had an ongoing feud about a 2007 incident in which Sloan thought Hough set fire to his motor home in Crystal River.

The State Fire Marshal's Office confirmed the fire occurred, but could not be reached for comment on whether Hough was a suspect.

According to several statements Sloan made to officials, he wanted to hurt Hough because of the fire.

Detectives also report Sloan was aware of Hough's status as a registered sex offender.

During an interview with Carolina Laughton, Laughton told detectives she received a phone call from Sloan on June 10. Sloan told her he had "chased a sex offender into a lake" but would not tell her where or why, detectives said. It was unclear from the affidavit what Laughton's relationship is to Sloan.

Records confirm Hough was a registered sex offender, dating from an 1992 incident resulting in a conviction in 1996 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 16.

Detectives reported Sloan asked James Blake Holt, 34, "a lifelong friend of Hough and his family" to lure Hough to ponds in the BridgeWater subdivision in North Lakeland.

Reports indicate that the agreement between Sloan and Holt was meant to fulfill a "drug-related debt that Holt owed Sloan." Because of the ongoing criminal investigation, additional details regarding the agreement could not be released, said police spokesman Jack Gillen.

An LPD affidavit said Holt and Hough were fishing in the ponds within the subdivision about noon June 10 when Holt received a call from Sloan. At that time, detectives say, Holt told Sloan their location.

Holt could not be reached for comment Thursday.

About 20 minutes later, according to detectives, Sloan and Wilson arrived at the ponds with another, as yet unidentified, man.

Upon their arrival, detectives say, Hough jumped into the water and attempted to flee from Sloan and Wilson. The unidentified man chased Hough into the water while, detectives say, Sloan and Holt yelled for him to "get" Hough.

Hough raised his cell phone and yelled that he was calling 911, reports say. According to detectives, once Hough reached to opposite shore of the lake, Sloan and Wilson pursued him in their car.

Once Sloan and Wilson caught up to Hough, according to detectives, they left the car, at which time Sloan was allegedly carrying an ax or shovel handle, and continued to chase Hough toward another pond.

Holt said told investigators he last saw Hough being chased into brush surrounding the other pond but did not notify police until the following day.

According to an autopsy, Hough drowned. However, the medical examiner determined that a blow to the top of his head was a contributing factor to his death. Detectives said Hough was clutching a knife in his right hand when his body was found.

The investigation into Hough's death is continuing, Gillen said, and other charges and arrests are possible.

Hough's mother, Linda Hunter Hough, was at her Roslyn Lane residence, where she and her husband, William, lived with Hough, when he left to go fishing with Holt.

"I was here when they left. I saw the two of them leave," Hough's mother said. "He loved fishing enough to go with anyone willing to go."

She added she was glad to know Sloan and Wilson were in police custody.

The two men could serve life in prison if convicted. ..News Source.. by STACY JONES, THE LEDGER


Related Links:
--Affidavits - George Sloan and Michael Wilson
--Suspects In Lakeland Man's Killing Turn Themselves In
--Police Seeking 2 In Death of Man Dumped in Pit
--Police Name Suspects In Lakeland Homicide
--Man Found Dead in Phosphate Pit Was Murdered, Police Say

Key Documents:
Arrest Affidavits:
George Sloan, Michael Wilson (HTML - 424b )

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