A serial killer from Florida, responsible for the deaths of four people in 2017, has admitted to the murders and will serve consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Howell Donaldson, 24 at the time of the killings, maintained his innocence until recently. He pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder as part of a plea deal to escape the death penalty.
State Attorney Suzy Lopez affirmed that the case warranted the death penalty, describing Donaldson’s “unspeakable acts” that terrorized the Tampa community for weeks. She added that the decision to accept life imprisonment had the support of the victims’ families, allowing them to avoid a protracted trial and appeals process.
The families had initially agreed with prosecutors seeking the death penalty in 2018, as reported by CBS News. With the plea deal, Donaldson now faces four consecutive life sentences.
The murders took place in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa in 2017. Donaldson killed 22-year-old Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 32-year-old Monica Caridad Hoffa, and 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa was shot after mistakenly boarding the wrong bus home from his new job.
The following month, 60-year-old Ronald Felton also fell victim to the serial killer as he crossed a street.
These four fatal shootings occurred over a 51-day period during the early morning hours. Notably, Donaldson neither lived nor worked in the Seminole Heights area where the murders took place.
Authorities apprehended Donaldson in November 2017 following an incident at the McDonald’s where he was employed. He gave a bag to a coworker for safekeeping while he ran an errand. Upon discovering a gun inside the bag, the coworker informed the manager, who then contacted the police.