SEFFNER, Fla. (WFLA) — When Ashley Voss’ grandmother spoke with News Channel 8 three weeks ago, she said she suspected the father of her granddaughter’s youngest son was responsible for her murder.
At the time, court documents revealed that Hillsborough County deputies only considered him a witness after he was caught on camera in the Seffner neighborhood with the accused shooter.
This week, deputies arrested 32-year-old Phillip Stapleton on felony charges of two murders.
“It’s just been devastating for my family to lose her,” Rhonda Voss said.
Family and friends are gathering this weekend for a memorial to remember the life of the 22-year-old mother.
“Ashley was a loving mother,” Rhonda said. “Her life was her two children.
Deputies found Ashley shot dead in her car outside of her grandmother’s home after 1 a.m. on July 20.
The next day HCSO arrested 32-year-old Aurelio Diaz on a first-degree murder charge.
“Diaz had no motive to shoot my granddaughter,” Rhonda said. “He barely knew her.”
Rhonda said the only reason Diaz knew Ashley is because he is friends with the father of her nearly two-year-old son.
After investigators showed Stapleton a video of him from the night of the murder, he told them he didn’t tell Diaz to shoot her, but rather “they were only playing a “prank” to have the defendant defecate on the victim’s porch.”
“I can’t imagine why the baby’s father would bring an armed assassin over here to defecate on my front porch,” Rhonda said.
Stapleton is now charged with principal to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in Ashley’s death.
According to court documents, Ashley’s family told investigators Stapleton had threatened her about an ongoing child support issue.
“He was not going to pay her child support and I heard this with my own ears,” Rhonda said.
This grieving grandmother was elated when she called 8 On Your Side Monday night after finding out deputies were arresting the man she suspected was responsible for her granddaughter’s death.
“I feel if it wasn’t for the child’s father,” she said, “my granddaughter would still be here.”
After News Channel 8 first aired its interview with Rhonda on July 29, Stapleton sent us a Facebook message.
He said he had much to say about Ashley and Diaz, but he didn’t know what he could “legally” say and he claimed he didn’t want to risk the shooter getting a lighter sentence.
Stapleton also denied threatening her over child support payments.
HCSO announced a second arrest of Stapleton for first-degree murder and tampering with evidence charges from a more than two-year-old homicide.
Deputies have linked him to the June 2021 murder when they found a man’s body at an intersection in Thonotosassa.