Palm City murder suspect arrested in West Palm Beach

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 9:56 PM EDT
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A 61-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the death of a woman who was found in a Palm City home, deputies said.

According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, James Stephenson was apprehended Wednesday night at a Palm Beach County restaurant, hours after a woman was found dead in the bedroom of a home on Southwest Honey Terrace.

Photographs provided by the Martin County Sheriff's Office show Stephenson being taken into custody outside the Hooters on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in West Palm Beach.

Stephenson was identified by the Martin County Sheriff's Office as a suspect in the woman's death.

Capt. Ruben Romero said deputies received a tip Tuesday night from a woman who claimed Stephenson had called her, saying he had killed someone.

"He had killed somebody, that he had killed somebody in the past, that he was taking guns out of the property, that he had messed up, that he had done some bad things," Romero said. "He had made some suicidal statements as well."

When deputies conducted a welfare check, they saw a blood trail through an open window, Romero said. It led to a rear bedroom where the woman's body was found. Romero would only say she suffered head and neck trauma.

"The victim found there did not live at the home," Romero said. "As far as we know, (she) was just staying over the weekend."

Romero said the owners of the property are out of the country and that Stephenson was allowed to stay in a trailer behind the house.

"I was surprised to see all the police activity," Ray Broughton said.

Broughton said he was out fixing his fence when an officer came over to talk to him.

"And (the officer) asked me if I knew who owned the house and I said, 'I really don't,'" Broughton said. "I said, 'But the one guy that I see going in and out of here all the time, I just assumed he was the owner.'"

Broughton said the property is known to have a lot of people coming and going.

"In my little neighborhood here, something like that is pretty crazy," he said.

Stephenson faces a charge of second-degree murder. He was expected to be taken back to Martin County.

A motive for the crime wasn't immediately known.

The woman's identity hasn't been made public.

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