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A Florida man was arrested over the weekend in connection to a double murder, with authorities alleging that he shot a couple in their sleep and then arranged for his stepdaughter's boyfriend to help him cover it up.
Todd Michael Jackson, 34, was taken into custody Saturday without incident near his home in Lakeland on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of 33-year-old Raymond Mark Cline and 37-year-old Crystal Ann Cline, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said. The Clines were found dead in a wooded area behind their home in Haines City on Friday, with investigators saying the pair had been dead for an undetermined amount of time before they were found.
Jackson is alleged to have shot the couple weeks earlier while they were asleep in their bed, authorities said during a press conference Saturday. Jackson, who Sheriff Grady Judd described as a “cold-blooded murderer,” had access to the couple’s home because they were acquaintances, and investigators suspect that he shot the Clines because he believed that they owed him $30,000.
Authorities said that, following the shooting, Jackson reached out to Larry James Waters, Jr., a 19-year-old man dating Jackson’s stepdaughter, and that Waters helped him move an air conditioning unit out of the Clines’ bedroom window and then push their bodies outside. Jackson and Waters are then alleged to have used a furniture dolly to transport the pair’s bodies to a swampy area behind the couple’s house, where they disposed of them.
The secret started to unravel when Amberlyn Nicole Nichols, a 19-year-old woman who told authorities she's Jackson's stepdaughter, tried to sell Raymond Cline’s truck for $200 dollars and told potential buyers that she was selling the vehicle because the owner had been killed and they needed to get rid of the car, police said.
“You know why the owner didn’t need the truck any longer? Because he was dead,” Sheriff Judd said. “He was murdered. And [Nichols] actually was telling people that the victim was shot in the head and was dead and they needed to get rid of his truck and she was only asking $200.”
The sheriff’s office began investigating after a potential seller notified them of what Nichols allegedly was saying; when confronted, investigators said she not only confessed, but also led them to the Clines’ bodies in the swamp. An individual whose name has not been disclosed also told police that they were at the Clines’ home when they were killed and that they witnessed Jackson carrying out the killings, according to a release from the office.
Nichols and Waters have both been arrested and have both admitted to knowing about the murders and not reporting it, according to the sheriff’s office. Nichols is facing charges of being an accessory after the fact, dealing in stolen property, and two counts and failing to report a death, while Waters has been charged with being an accessory after the fact and two counts of failing to report a death.
Speaking to reporters last week, Sheriff Judd called the case a “crazy set of circumstances.”
“This is one of those things that you know has to be true because you just can’t make this up,” he said.
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