Tampa serial killing suspect Howell Donaldson held without bond

The man accused of killing four people in six weeks in Tampa, Florida, will be held without bond until his next court hearing, a judge ruled today

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Howell Donaldson III, 24, a Tampa native, made his first court appearance alongside one of his public defenders this morning via video link from Hillsborough County Jail, where he’s being held. He was clad in an anti-suicide vest, with his wrists and ankles chained together.

In a Hillsborough County courtroom, Judge Margaret Taylor granted a motion filed earlier this morning by the state attorney requesting that Donaldson be held without bond until his pretrial hearing, scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.

Taylor will determine at next week’s hearing whether Donaldson should continue being held without bond.

“So between now and that time, you’ll be held without bond,” she explained to Donaldson during his brief appearance via video link.

He did not enter a plea.

Donaldson, also known as Trai, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection to the recent slayings in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood.

The first three victims were killed within 11 days in October. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed Oct. 9, and the body of 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was found Oct. 13, half a mile from where Mitchell was killed. Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old man authorities described as having mild autism, was killed Oct. 19 after taking the wrong bus home from work, according to police.

The fourth victim, 60-year-old Robert Felton, was fatally shot from behind in the early hours of Nov. 14.

Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is pictured in an arrest photo distributed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Donaldson is facing four counts of premeditated murder for a series killings in Tampa, Florida.

The Tampa Police Department received more than 5,000 tips related to the killings, which left the neighborhood on edge. But it was one tip at a McDonald’s that led police to the alleged serial killer.

A person identified as “Witness 3” approached a police officer at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood Tuesday afternoon to say that an employee, Donaldson, gave the individual a “McDonald’s food bag” and said he planned to leave the state, according to a…

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