Slaying suspect: I `just snapped’ He and his wife had argued about money, officials say Larry Roberson told them — (The Orlando Sentinel)

Original article not available

The Orlando Sentinel (FL)

November 10, 2005

Author: Kristen Reed, Sentinel Staff Writer

Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, confirmed that this man was taking Effexor at the time of the murder.

Larry Roberson said he “just snapped” after arguing with his wife about finances and looking for houses.

So he waited for her outside the shower with a baseball bat and bashed her over the head, investigators say he told them. Then, he said, he strangled her with electrical wire.
Roberson, 47, was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in his wife’s death. Investigators found Debra Roberson’s body Oct. 26 wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket in a locked shed near the couple’s residence in Orange City.

Larry Roberson was captured in Levy County on Sunday after spending 10 days on the run hiding in the woods there and in Deltona.

The couple, who had been married for more than 25 years, had a rocky past and a history of domestic violence.

Family and friends said Larry Roberson was an alcoholic who recently had returned to drinking. The couple’s problems may have peaked in June, when in the span of one week Larry Roberson learned that they were being evicted from their home by his mother-in-law and that he owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $11,700, according to records.

Recently, family and friends became concerned about Debra Roberson in the days before her 53rd birthday. On Oct. 25, the couple’s son drove from Georgia to look for his parents because he hadn’t heard from them.

Deputies who went to the house found an empty bottle of whiskey in the kitchen but no sign of the couple or their dogs, according to the arrest report. The next day, an odor from the shed near the apartment the two lived in on the Cypress Avenue property drew investigators to Debra Roberson’s body.

Investigators said she was killed Oct. 21. The medical examiner determined Debra Roberson had a scalp injury and a condition consistent with strangulation. The exact cause of death has not been determined.

Larry Roberson fled in his wife’s truck, but investigators, who conducted ground and air searches, tracked his whereabouts through credit-card use, his cell phone and by talking to witnesses with whom he had spoken.

He had called two sisters and confessed to them that he strangled his wife, according to the arrest report.

“This is a combination of old-fashioned detective footwork combined with our modern technological advances,” said sheriff’s spokesman Brandon Haught. “There’s a lot of pieces to this that came together very well.”

Investigators focused on Larry Roberson early in the investigation, sending out an all-points bulletin for his truck and with his description after the body was discovered. They learned about his past while looking for him.

Roberson was on probation for aggravated battery. And in a petition for a restraining order, Debra Roberson said her husband tried to kill her in 2002 with a bleach-soaked rag.

Larry Roberson admitted to the attempted killing when speaking with investigators this week, according to reports.

Larry Roberson and his wife also were suspects in an elderly neglect and exploitation complaint. The two lived on Altha Schaeffer’s property in an apartment near her home. Schaeffer, Debra Roberson’s mother, was living with other relatives at the time of the killing, sheriff’s officials said.

On June 16, two weeks before the abuse complaint, Schaeffer filed an eviction notice against the Robersons.

Five days later, Larry Roberson received notice from the IRS that it had filed a federal tax lien against him for $11,740.84.

Larry Roberson also was listed as a person of interest in a “bottle bomb” that was left outside the Department of Children & Families office in DeLand.

Memo:  Kristen Reed can be reached at kreed@orlandosentinel.comor 386-851-7924.

Copyright 2005 Sentinel Communications Co.
Record Number:  0511100378