ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An investigation into a triple murder case took a dramatic turn Thursday when deputies said there may have been a mishandling of 911 calls on the night of the killings.
Deputies said they may have missed a chance to get to the victims sooner.
The bodies of Richard Bottom, Todd Lemme and Deborah Watson were found with gunshot wounds in a wooded area off Curry Ford Road Tuesday morning.
The trio was homeless and living in a shed near a retention pond, authorities said.
Detectives believe they may have been dead for about 12 hours before their bodies were found.
They were back at the scene of the shooting Friday to search for more evidence.
Deputies said when the three bodies were found they received 911 calls the night before in the same area.
They admitted that they recently learned one of the calls was made by one of the homicide victims.
“I thought it might have been quick, and now it doesn’t seem like it was,” a friend of the victims, Jarib Martin, said.
On Tuesday Capt. Angelo Nieves with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said officers searched the area on the night of the 911 calls and couldn’t find the source of the gunshots.
“We received information that someone was injured through that phone call. We could not find anything at that time,” Nieves said.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demmings has launched a separate investigation to review the handling of emergency calls.
The investigation will also focus on how at least 16 deputies could have missed the three people shot to death.
Martin said he hopes this serves as a wake-up call for the department.
“Reeducate these guys on what their necessities are when they go to a scene, especially [for] something like shots being fired,” Martin said.
Deputies tracked down a person of interest Thursday and took him into custody.
They found David Emmons in a vacant home on Curry Ford Road and Chickasaw Trail, near where the bodies were found.
Deputies cleared Emmons of any wrongdoing in the case by late Thursday afternoon.
Deputies said they want to talk with another person of interest, Leonard Lewis, who they are still searching for.
Investigators said they believe the victims knew their killer and had many friends, including Lewis.