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Florida serial killer left bloody, cryptic message on victim: Police

A suspected Florida killer is now detained and off of the streets, but he apparently left behind a bloody, cryptic message on one of the victims before his capture, according to police.

CBS News reports that Nathaniel Petgrave allegedly targeted homeless people in the Fort Lauderdale area, where police say he killed at least three people, including  Larry Scott, 65; John Jackson, 50; and Derick Tucker, 21.

Authorities noticed the words, “4 Stop Wait Time,” written on Tucker in blood. When detectives questioned Petgrave about the cryptic message, he said he wrote it for his 4th killing, not yet knowing that another person he reportedly shot in the neck was alive in the hospital, in critical condition.

According to detectives, Petgrave himself was homeless, living in a stopgap shack he made in the Plantation area, outside of Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale police Sgt. Steve Novak said that although Petgrave admitted he killed other homeless people, he never offered a motive behind the murders. Novak indicated that the victims were probably not targeted for any other reason aside from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“We don’t think he specifically targeted those victims for any reason other than their availability.”

All four victims were shot, with at least two of them sleeping when the suspect opened fire. Police caught Petgrave after following up on a tip from a woman who recognized him from surveillance footage. A man matching Petgrave’s description was captured on surveillance video at a convenience store around 1 a.m. on October 21, shooting Jackson, according to Miami New Times.

“Rose Johnson, one of the employees, stated she believed the still photo was of a subject who frequented the feeding program,” police wrote in the arrest affidavit.

Moments before a man who matches Petgrave’s description (white tank top) shot a victim at a convenience store. [Photo:Fort Lauderdale Police Department]
As they kept close watch on the suspect, they caught him driving a stolen car and promptly arrested him. Authorities noted that a month prior, they confiscated a Ruger P95 9mm gun from Petgrave after they caught him “target shooting.” Police reported that they returned the gun to Petgrave a few days later since he had a legal license to carry a firearm.

Ammunition from the gun matched the shells found at the locations where the victims were shot. Investigators also uncovered over 30 identical casings at Petgrave’s makeshift shack. However, police Capt. Frank Sousa said that until they get results back on the shell casings, they can’t charge the suspect with murder.

“When we had him here for the auto theft, we had some suspicions, but you can’t get probable cause for an arrest warrant based off of suspicion. We have to wait for ballistic testing to confirm that the rounds from Lauderhill and our rounds were an exact match. It’s not like TV, guys, where it’s an hour.”

Fort Lauderdale aren’t offering additional details yet, as the investigation is still ongoing. Check back with CrimeOnline as further details become available.

[Feature Photo: Fort Lauderdale Police Department]