A Florida man has been convicted in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend after he attempted to stage her 2016 death as a suicide, prosecutors announced this week.
Thomas Elmore Jr. attempted to cover up Tamara Naish’s murder, making it look like the 48-year-old nurse had killed herself inside their Riverview home, a jury decided this week. Jurors rendered the guilty verdict after deliberating for roughly eight hours over two days.
"This delivers justice for Tamara Naish and her family," Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement, which was issued before Elmore was found guilty. "As a nurse, she dedicated her career to helping others. Her life was taken so heartlessly, and now the man who did it — and lied about it — will pay for it."
Naish’s body was discovered at her residence in September 2016. Elmore insisted his girlfriend died by suicide, telling investigators he’d found her unresponsive in the bathroom. However, investigators ultimately found inconsistencies with this account at the scene of the shooting.
Naish had been shot twice, and a gun was found in her left hand, despite the fact that she was right-handed, according to prosecutors. A bullet wound on her hand also suggested the nurse had tried to shield herself from being shot, officials said.
“The body was manipulated, evidence found at the scene is not consistent with a suicide, not consistent with Elmore’s side of the story,” Cristal Nunez of the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office said at the time, WFTS reported.
Elmore allegedly said he waited a day before contacting authorities because he was “distraught,” prosecutors said. After recovering Naish’s body, investigators estimated the woman had died at least 36 hours earlier.
Naish worked for Americare Ambulance Services after obtaining a nursing degree at UAB Nursing School in Birmingham, Alabama, according to her online obituary. She had also dabbled in modeling, adored nature, and was described as a lover of animals.
“She was just a kind, gentle, beautiful soul, that did not deserve to have her life taken away like this,” her friend Vicki Jones Deason told WFTS in 2016.
Elmore and Naish had dated for approximately three to four years, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and had a history of instances of domestic violence. Elmore alleged that Naish once kicked his dog during a drunken fight about financial issues in 2016, the newspaper reported. But some of Naish’s friends had denied the allegations.
“The most blatant lie right there, is that she kicked his dog, I find that baloney because she would not hurt, she would not hurt anything,” Deason added.
Elmore's sentencing date is still to be determined.
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