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Florida Man Found Dead In His Car Trunk, Cops Suspect Motive Was Love Triangle
Police suspect Melvin Wilcox, 39, was shot to death days after learning that the mother of child, Lashawn Triplett, had begun dating his friend, Johnny Wesley, authorities said. The two have been charged with his murder
Two arrests have been made after a missing Florida man was found, having been shot to death, in the trunk of his car, according to law enforcement.
On Saturday, officers arrested the mother of Wilcox’s child, Lashawn Triplett, 42, and the slain man’s friend, Johnny Wesley, 43, in connection with his killing, according to a pair of arrest affidavits obtained by Oxygen.com. They’ve both been charged with first-degree murder with a firearm.
“Sadly, we must report that Melvin Wilcox was found deceased in the trunk of his car late Friday,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on March 19. “OCSO Homicide detectives have arrested Johnny Wesley and Lashawn Triplett for First Degree Murder with a firearm. We extend our condolences to Melvin's family & loved ones.”
Authorities had announced last Thursday that Wilcox was missing. The Florida man had last been seen, dressed in all gray, in the area of Elon Road in Pine Hills. He was thought to have been driving his blue Honda Civic with the Florida license plate HGSX29.
An official motive in the death hasn’t yet been released by officials. However, authorities suspect the murder was fueled by a love triangle involving Wilcox, Triplett and Wesley.
On March 13 — last Sunday — Wilcox was at the Central Florida Fair when he ran into the mother of his child and his friend together, according to separate charging documents obtained by Oxygen.com. That was when Wilcox learned that Triplett and Wesley had been dating for approximately a year, but Wesley hadn't mentioned it. The two men ultimately got into a verbal argument, charging documents state.
Two days later, on March 15, Wilcox’s mother said he didn’t show up at a friend’s house, who he’d told her he planned to visit that morning. All the calls placed to Wilcox’s cell phone went unanswered.
Wilcox's mother then contacted Wesley, who told her that Wilcox had come over to his place, where the pair got into another fight, and that Wilcox had then departed in his Honda. He also claimed he'd had to boost Wilcox’s car with jumper cables.
Wilcox’s mother reported her son’s car stolen and provided Wesley’s address.
Surveillance footage from a camera in an undisclosed location near Wesley's house, reviewed as part of the stolen car investigation, led investigators to determine that Wilcox was likely murdered inside Wesley’s home.
Authorities said that Wilcox was captured on camera arriving at Wesley’s property at roughly 2:00 a.m. on March 15. The recordings, however, never show Wilcox leaving, according to charging documents. A number of people were instead seen moving his car, which they started using jumper cables and then backed up to the front door of the house. Afterwards, all the lights at the residence were turned off and a man drove away in Wilcox's car. Wesley later emerged from his home with two trash bags, which he stuffed into his vehicle, and then drove off, an arrest warrant stated.
After Wilcox's remains were found, an autopsy showed he was shot in the head and twice near his neck. The Florida man’s death was ruled a homicide, officials said.
A search warrant executed at the home found bullet holes, remnants of blood and one 9 millimeter shell casing.
Triplett and Wesley are being held without bond, according to online jail records. The pair, who appeared in court on Sunday, will be represented by public defenders, additional court filings show. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for them.
No other information was immediately available from county authorities this week. A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Oxygen.com on Monday afternoon.