Florida Serial Killer Suspect's Pattern Was To Shoot Victims, Visit Porn Site, Cops Say

Howell “Trae” Donaldson III allegedly killed four people in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Authorities say he watched porn on his phone directly three of the slayings. 

Florida prosecutors released new details about the fetishes and behavior of the alleged “Seminole Heights Killer” who they believe randomly targeted, shot and killed four people walking on the street during a 51-day stretch last year.

Howell “Trae” Donaldson III watched porn on his cell phone in close proximity to three of the killings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood, according to court documents obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

The exact website Donaldson visited is not disclosed in the documents. Visitors to the website could see others in sexually themed situations and also interact with models privately, according to the Times.

"In summary, Howell Donaldson showed a pattern of visiting this adult-themed website after committing three homicides," a warrant said.

Donaldson allegedly visited the website after shooting and killing Benjamin Mitchell on Oct. 9, Monica Hoffa on Oct. 11 and Anthony Naiboa on Oct. 19. He is also charged with murdering Ronald Felton on Nov. 14.

Authorities say he visited the website 269 times between Oct. 5 and Nov. 4.

Donaldson, 25, attended St. John’s University for five years and made the school’s basketball team as a walk-on during the 2011-12 season, according to Bleacher Report. He was hard-working and well-mannered, according to multiple reports.  

But Donaldson began acting strange in the time leading up the murders, according to court documents. Friends noticed his appearance becoming more sloppy and that he would ask the same mundane questions, over and over again.

He bought a .40-caliber Glock 27 handgun from a store called Shooter’s World on Oct. 3, the same day his on-and-off girlfriend started a new job. On Oct. 5, he began visiting the unnamed porn website, officials say.

On Oct. 9, Donaldson allegedly shot 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell as he was waiting to catch a bus to see his girlfriend, the New York Times reported. Two more deaths occurred in the next nine days. The fourth and final killing, which is not associated with the visits to the porn site, happened on Nov. 14.

Donaldson gave a gun to a supervisor at McDonald’s, who immediately notified police, on Nov. 28. Donaldson allowed police to download data from his phone that placed him near the killings, the Tampa Bay Times reported. He did not confess to police, but at least one witness identified him in a surveillance video linked to the killings.

At the time he was questioned he told police, "I’m just trying to get out of here so I can go back to school,” according to the court documents.

He was hoping to go back to New York and asked the officers if they might give him a ride to the airport.

[Photo: Tampa Police Department]

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