"Thank God for firewalls," he said, in an interview at the Brandon complex Oct. 11, as crime-scene and arson investigators continued to do their work. "Still, when you smell smoke, there's a fire somewhere. It only takes a second to call 911."
That's the call Desmarais said he made Thursday afternoon, Oct. 10, after he spotted the blackened windows in a residence not far from his own, in the complex at the corner of North Hilltop Road and Highland Ridge Circle.
"We're very fortunate we didn't have a blaze that involved the entire complex," Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said later that night, at a press conference near the crime scene. "The fire never engulfed the building. It just burned inside. There's some furniture that burned and things like that, so it could have smoldered for a long time."
Investigators reported that two females, age 23 and 24, were found dead inside the home from "homicidal violence" and that the fire was started to cover up the crime, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Larry McKinnon.
- ABC Action News identified one of the women as Lindsay Nicole Greene, 25, based on reports from neighbors and friends.
"She was a nice girl," Desmarais said, about "Lindsay," the woman he said lived in the home, just a few doors west of his, whose full name was being withheld by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, pending a positive identification from the medical examiner's office.
Desmarais said that in addition to calling 911, he also called the woman's mother, who in turn called Lindsay's father. "I told the mother, 'I can't see inside the house, but it stinks,' " Desmarais said. "She called her husband and all he could do when he got here was change the deadbolt lock, because inside the smoke was so bad. He didn't even know there were bodies in there."
Now, somewhere, the killer lurks.
Gee said Charles Andre Martinez, 24, "a person of interest," reportedly lived part-time in the home and had been at the complex "in the last day or so."
"I used to give him hell for the way he used to park in the wrong spot and he was always polite," Desmarais said. "I told him if I caught him again I was going to have him towed and he'd have to pay $165 [to get his car back]."
Gee said late Thursday night that the vehicle Desmarais had likely been driving, a brown Mazda, was found earlier that night in Dover.
He called Desmarais a dangerous man, noting that he was a recent Florida State Prison releasee with warrants for Home Invasion Robbery and False Imprisonment, crimes unrelated to the Carlisle Club Townhomes slayings.
"We want to get him off the streets, minimally for the unserved warrants, and more importantly because he may be connected to the homicides," McKinnon said, at the complex Oct. 11.
"I feel bad for the victims, I feel bad for the parents," Desmarais said. "Young people being taken away at this age, it's a shame."
Have a tip to help solve this homicide?
- Call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.
- To be eligible for a cash reward, for information leading to an arrest, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).
- Report anonymously online at Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay.
- Or, text "CSTB [plus your tip]" to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637).