HAINES CITY — They entered the home, armed with a metal pipe. They found a man sleeping in his bed.
And as the victim laid there in his bed, detectives say, they began to beat him on the head with that metal pipe.
Each time the victim “woke up,” the suspects would later tell detectives, they struck him again.T
Following a joint investigation, Polk County Sheriff’s detectives and Haines City Police detectives arrested two men and one woman today, and are still looking for another woman, in the homicide of 36-year-old Homero Arteaga.
An autopsy conducted today by Dr. Vera Volnikh concluded that Arteaga had died from multiple blunt force injuries to his head.
A day earlier, Arteaga was found dead in his home at 421 N. 21st St. in Haines City by his mother, who went to check on him because she hadn’t heard from him in several days.
Both his mother, and the Haines City Police officers she called, found a nightmare when they discovered Arteaga’s body in his bedroom, “the obvious victim of a violent and suspicious death,” noted Carrie Eleazer, the public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The two agencies worked together through the night on this case, and quickly were able to identify — and arrest — four suspects. They were Christopher Mason Batchelor, 31, of 4123 Vista Del Lago in Winter Haven; John Wesley Barrett, 46, also of 4120 Vista Del Lago in Winter Haven; Jenny Leigh Holmes, 25, of 5748 Pipes Road in Bartow; and Dana Lynn Wise, 39, whose address is not known.
The motive, detectives say: robbery.
During interviews with the suspects, detectives say the four admitted that they planned to rob the Arteaga in his home. Holmes and Wise drove Batchelor and Barrett into Arteaga’s neighborhood and dropped them off one street east of the house.
“Batchelor and Barrett walked to Arteaga’s house and entered it armed with a metal pipe, with the purpose of stealing any money and drugs they could find,” Eleazer noted in her report on the murder.
“When they gained access inside the house, they found Arteaga sleeping in his bed. They struck him in the head with the metal pipe, and began ransacking the house. They told detectives that each time Arteaga ‘woke up’ they would strike him again.”
After the two men killed Arteaga and robbed the home, they got picked up by Holmes and Wise, discardeding the metal pipe as they were driving away from the scene.
Batchelor and Barrett are being charged with one count each of first degree murder, armed burglary, and attempted armed robbery. According to Eleazer, Batchelor has been in the Polk County Jail on 13 prior occasions, on charges that include fleeing to elude, possession of narcotics, failure to appear in court, petit theft, and violation of probation.
Barrett also has an extensive criminal history in Florida, Eleazer said.
Holmes was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, and has already been in the Polk County Jail on four prior occasions, for burglary, battery, petit theft, resisting arrest, and possession of meth.
Detectives have not yet located Dana Wise, and are in the process of obtaining a warrant for her arrest. When they find her, she will be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
“She is known to frequent the Wahneta area,” Eleazer said. “She has been in the Polk County Jail twice, for battery domestic violence, and driving with a suspended license failure to appear.”
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Wise is being urged to call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200 or the Haines City Police Department at 863-421-3636.
Anyone who has information but wants to remain anonymous can call 1-800-226-TIPS or log on to www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.
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