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Crime News Florida Man Murders

Florida Attorney Killed, Burned In Acid After Catching Employee Committing Fraud

After Ashley Pollow was reported missing, authorities found him dead in his hurricane shelter on his Florida property.

By Becca van Sambeck

Fort Pierce, Florida is known for its beaches and amazing sunsets -- as well as its high crime rate. One of the most disturbing acts of violence to happen in the area was the murder of local tax attorney Ashley Pollow.

On Dec. 7, 2010, a young woman contacted police to request a welfare check on Pollow, her former employer, saying he hadn't been seen in days.

“Well ... once I left [his workplace] I was still friends with some of the other people who worked there. I tried to call Ashley and it just went straight to his voicemail," she says in audio footage of the call obtained by Oxygen's "Florida Man Murders" after she was asked about her relationship with Pollow.

When investigators arrived at his home, they noticed there were several packages at the doorstep, although his car was still there. There was no sign of forced entry or any kind of struggle.

Ashley Pollow Fmm 106

They reached out to his family, who lived out of state and they said they hadn't seen him since Thanksgiving Day of that year. His family was immediately concerned.

"His car was there, his keys were there. I watched too much Oxygen to know that when somebody goes missing, it's not great," his sister Jackie Fishman told producers.

A further search of the property revealed a custom hurricane shelter, which had a lock on it. After breaking it open, they finally found Pollow. He was laying inside dead, wrapped in a rug with a bag over his head. His body was decomposing and it appeared he and his clothing had been burned with acid. An autopsy would confirm he was strangled to death.

Investigators started digging into Pollow's life to uncover who would have wanted him dead. They learned he studied law at University of Memphis in Tennessee, met a woman there, and moved with her to Florida, where they married and had kids. They later divorced, but his daughter told producers he was a doting parent despite being something of a workaholic.

"He did struggle with depression. He had breakdown, he moved to Fort Pierce to give himself a fresh start," daughter Megan Pollow said.

Investigators spoke again with the ex-employee who had requested the welfare check. She maintained her innocence and had a strong alibi. However, she did offer a potential lead: somebody had tried to kill Powell six months earlier, a man named John Wilson.

Wilson's girlfriend worked for Powell, and Wilson was convinced the two were having an affair. After a heated argument with his mother, Wilson stabbed her in the neck, and then went over to Pollow's home to attack him, too.

"I completely lost my goddamn mind. There's no way of getting around it," Wilson told police in audio obtained by "Florida Man Murders."

Wilson's assault on Pollow was interrupted after a neighbor witnessed the fight and tried to intervene, with authorities eventually arriving on the scene. 

Wilson couldn't have been the one who actually killed Pollow, though. He had a rock solid alibi: he was in custody at the time on first-degree murder charges after his mother died from her injuries.

Investigators questioned two current employees of Pollow: Michele Lee Lochridge and Thomas Barnard. The two were romantically involved. They claimed they last saw Pollow on Saturday, Nov. 27, dropping off Powell's car because Powell had gotten too drunk the night before at a dinner to drive himself home. 

Their stories didn't match up, though. Barnard said the two went to work on Monday, Nov. 29 but Pollow wasn't there. Lochridge, however, claimed Powell was there, just locked in his room.

Casting even more suspicion on the duo was the fact Barnard and Lochridge both had a criminal history, although Lochridge had a more extensive one. She had recently served 10 years in prison for charges stemming from fraud and was currently on probation.

Police soon got a tip from Barnard's former coworker, who claimed Barnard had confessed to killing Pollow. The two maintained their innocence, however, and a search of their home yielded nothing.

Then, Lochridge made an error: She tried to cash in a check from Pollow with a forged signature. The bank contacted authorities, and Lochridge was taken into custody for a probation violation.

After some time behind bars, Lochridge told police Barnard had killed Pollow, eventually claiming she had helped him move the body and clean the crime scene. They needed more evidence, though, so they listened to her jailhouse phone calls with Barnard.

At one point, Lochridge told Barnard she would take the fall for him if he would take care of her kids, but she just needed to know exactly how he did it so authorities would believe her confession. Barnard agreed and revealed crucial details on the call, and was arrested for first-degree murder.

Investigators learned Pollow had discovered Lochridge was forging checks in his name and confronted the pair. The two knew they would end up back in prison, so Barnard attacked Pollow and eventually choked him until he died. They then tried to burn him with acid to get rid of the evidence.

Lochridge took a plea deal and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Barnard was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

You can watch other "Florida Man Murders" episodes on Oxygen.com.