2 sought in Florida triple killing arrested in Minnesota
WINONA, Minn. (AP) — As campers slept nearby, a SWAT team kicked in the door of a camper at a Minnesota state park, tossed in flash-bang grenades and arrested two men early Thursday wanted in a triple homicide in Florida, officials said.
The raid at Whitewater State Park, about 90 miles southeast of Minneapolis, came off without a hitch even though the men were considered armed and dangerous, authorities said.
"We wanted to hit them quick," Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand said. "We didn't want anyone tipping them off and letting them know we are coming."
James Lindsey Howze, 38, of O'Brien, Fla., and Lonnie Robert Munn, 47, of Live Oak, Fla., were in shackles when they waived extradition during a court appearance later Thursday. At one point, Howze winked at Munn. Neither man had an attorney, court officials said.
Both men will be held in Winona until they are retrieved by Florida law enforcement.
A 52-year-old Wisconsin woman who was with the men and owned the camper was questioned but not arrested, Brand said. He said she'd met the men just recently.
It wasn't immediately clear what brought the fugitives to the scenic park in southeastern Minnesota or whether they had any links to the area, Brand said.
The two men are charged in the fatal shootings of Joseph Militello Jr., 57, his wife Nancy Militello, 68, and their nephew, Angelo Rosales, 32, during a robbery at their farm home in Suwannee County, Fla., on Aug. 26.
The arrests came on the same day as the first of two memorial services for the victims.
At a news conference in Florida, Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron said money was the motive for the killings, and that they were planned in advance. He said only one gun was used, but it wasn't known who pulled the trigger.
Cameron has said that Joseph Militello's various businesses — which included scrap metal, rental property and used cars — often involved cash transactions, and that a large but undetermined amount of cash was taken in the robbery.
Cameron said the two men were believed to be affiliated with the Black Pistons motorcycle gang out of Tampa, Fla. Both have criminal records and have served prison time.
A third suspect, Keith Allen Hughes, 35, was recently arrested in Florida.
Minnesota authorities got a tip from the U.S. Marshal's Service that one of the men had used an ATM card Wednesday evening at a convenience store in St. Charles, about five miles from the state park, Brand said. The security video from the store allowed investigators to confirm that the two men were the Florida fugitives, he said.
A Winona County deputy found the fugitives' truck at Whitewater State Park, and plainclothes officers hid in the woods and watched the men's campsite until dark, Brand said. Officers stormed the camper at 1:40 a.m.
Brand told the Winona Daily News that deputies later recovered a 9 mm handgun they believe was used in the Florida killings.
Other campers at the popular park were nearby but not in the immediate area, Brand said. Authorities waited until dark in part to avoid potential harm to bystanders, he said. Brand also said the campground had not filled up yet for the Labor Day weekend.
"It was terrifying," Jennifer Watson, of Rochester, who was sleeping in a nearby tent, told the Post-Bulletin of Rochester.
She said she and her family heard what sounded like gunfire and a commotion.
"When we started hearing gunshots and police yelling, we knew we had to get out of the tent. We didn't want to get taken hostage," she said.