POINCIANA — A violent murder, the first in Poinciana in about four years, has left a local man in the Osceola County Jail, and on Thursday Steven Louis was officially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Nicole Fields.
Louis, 28, of 931 Gateshead Court in Kissimmee, was arrested on Nov. 10 after being transported back to Osceola County from Monroe County.
He was initially facing four charges: aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, violating probation, two counts of possession of marijuana under 20 grams, and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. The second degree murder charge was filed a week later.
“Today, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives obtained a felony warrant for Steven Louis charged with second degree murder,” said Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. “Since the investigation originated in Osceola County, but the crime occurred in Polk County, Louis will be prosecuted by the 10th Judicial Circuit in Polk County with the assistance of the 9th Judicial Circuit for Orange and Osceola Counties. Louis is currently in the Osceola County Jail, but will be extradited to Polk County.”
On Nov. 11, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives confirmed that a body recovered in Poinciana was Nicole Fields, who had disappeared on Nov. 4 after meeting with Louis for a scheduled hearing at the Osceola County Courthouse. Fields had planned to ask the court to enforce child support payments overdue by Louis.
Field’s mother had contacted the sheriff’s office the next day to say her daughter hadn’t come home. Louis was arrested that weekend in Monroe County after trying to outchase local sheriff’s deputies before crashing his car. He had been driving Fields’ car, and a knife was later found in it.
“The investigation leads detectives to believe Nicole died on Thursday (Nov. 4),” Lizasuain said. “The Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that the manner of death was a homicide and that Nicole died from multiple stab wounds. Sheriff’s detectives have not confirmed the knife found in Nicole’s vehicle is linked to the homicide.”
The case has attracted a lot of media attention, and sent journalists and camera crews to Poinciana — a turn of events that’s led some local residents to conclude that Poinciana is once again getting the wrong attention, and for the wrong reasons.
“If there’s a murder, all the newspapers come to Poinciana,” said Nick Murdock, chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, which is working to bring more jobs and businesses to the community — a task that isn’t made easier, he said, with negative press coverage about crime.
Keith Laytham, president of the civic group Poinciana Residents for Smart Change — which is working to improve the community — said he feels the media will zoom to Poinciana if there’s a high profile crime, but won’t express much interest in positive developments happening there.
“The press is going to cover stories,” Laytham said. “There seems to be a priority given to sensational stories such as this murder or the crime rate. The good stuff, the positive stuff, doesn’t tend to hit the radar screens.”
That includes the opening of Poinciana’s first football field at Vance Harmon Park this summer, or the opening of a Boys & Girls Club Teen Center — which didn’t attract anywhere near the attention that this murder has, Laytham said.
“There’s two reasons for that,” he said. “Those things don’t stick out by themselves. And the other is the way Poinciana is structured, we really don’t have a Chamber of Commerce or a publicity department or a group whose job it is to promote Osceola County and the Poinciana area.”
Laytham said his organization is now working to promote positive news about Poinciana, although he acknowledged that it won’t be easy to push aside crime stories in favor of more upbeat coverage.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reported that Louis was the estranged boyfriend of Fields, who was 26 years old. On the day she disappeared, Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to make a traffic stop, but Louis fled and eventually crashed. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and charged with traffic violations by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Three days later, Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives got a felony warrant of aggravated battery for Louis, and after he was released from the hospital, he was transported back to Osceola County to face this charge. Fields’ car was also transported from Monroe County to Osceola County to be processed for any evidence.
On Nov. 9, Osceola sheriff’s deputies extended their search for Fields to two specific areas of the county. Around noon that day, deputies searched a wooded area and discovered a body behind a house on Robin Lane, which appeared to have been abandoned. The body was identified as Fields.
Louis is in jail with no bond.
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