Mom of Seminole Heights serial killer victim sues Tampa police, state attorney

Hillsborough County

Monica Hoffa

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a case that gripped the bay area. The Seminole Heights serial killer kept the community on edge and garnered the nation’s attention. And now a lawsuit has been filed by the mother of one of the victims in the case.     

Olga Lavandeira is the mother of victim Monica Hoffa.

She was devastated at the loss of her only daughter and now she’s angry with the state attorney’s office for the 13th Judicial Circuit and the Tampa Police Department.

Lavandeira is deaf and claims in the lawsuit, neither entity will provide an interpreter to keep her up to date on the case against her daughter’s alleged killer, Howell Donaldson III.

The murders happened between October and November of 2017. Four people were killed, all seemingly at random.

Monica Hoffa is the second victim. Her body was found on Oct. 13 by a city landscape crew in the 1000 block of East New Orleans Avenue.

Now, in a 19-page lawsuit, Lavendeira claims the police department and state attorney’s office, specifically Chief Brian Dugan and State Attorney Andrew Warren, denied her an interpreter to be able to learn information about the case against Donaldson. 

The suit said, “hoping to gain some information on the case, Ms. Lavandeira attended several court hearings. Unfortunately, her requests for ASL interpreters were also denied by the 13th Judicial courthouse.”

It added, “during the investigation, TPD continually disregarded the requirement to accommodate deaf people.”

At one point, the suit alleges Tampa police told Lavendeira to watch a News Channel 8 story called “51 Days of Terror”, which is actually a podcast on Facebook.

The state attorney released a statement today regarding the lawsuit.

“Any portion of the suit involving the state attorney’s office has zero merit. Our office has championed victims’ rights and supports victims at every step in the process, and we will continue to support the families of the Seminole Heights victims as we seek justice for these murders.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

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