Employee Arrested in Couple’s Killing in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities have arrested an employee of a wealthy Tampa woman in the killing of her and her husband.

Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee said late Tuesday that deputies arrested 31-year-old Julian Ospina Florez of Tampa on two counts of first-degree murder.

The bodies of 76-year-old Dr. Hector Rivera and 55-year-old Debra Rivera were found Monday at their home in the upscale and gated Avila subdivision. Both had been shot multiple times, officials said.

“It was a very brutal murder,” Gee said.

Florez was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail late Tuesday. It was unclear whether he had retained an attorney; his first appearance in court would likely be held Wednesday.

Florez worked for Debra Rivera as an assistant and driver for her jewelry and accessories business. Debra Rivera and Florez went to the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday on a business trip to buy merchandise hours before the shooting was believed to have happened, Gee said.

The sheriff said Debra Rivera had “become distrustful” of Florez and had reported a theft of some jewelry to police about a week ago.

“We know that he was not in good standing with her,” Gee said.

Authorities said her body was found in a bathroom. Her husband was gunned down in the front yard. He was coming home after watching a football game with a neighbor.

Deputies went to the home after getting a 911 call and found Florez inside. Gee said he initially told them he was attacked by an unknown man but deputies later discovered in Florez’ vehicle a box of the bullets they believed were used to kill the couple. A gun found inside the home was linked to Florez.

The gated subdivision is among the most exclusive in the Tampa Bay area. Avila Residents have included former Tampa Bay Rays manager Lou Piniella.

According to police records, Florez — who was born in Colombia but came to the U.S. in 1999 and is a naturalized citizen — was arrested in 2004 on burglary and battery charges but the case did not go to trial and Florez was never sentenced.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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