Murder suspect in McKay Bay body parts case spoke with 8 On Your Side before his arrest

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Police say the man who let Stephanie Crone-Overholts stay with him ended up killing her and dumping her dismembered remains in McKay Bay.

“We’re relieved tonight to announce that we’ve made an arrest for her murder,” said Tampa’s interim police chief Ruben Delgado Wednesday night.

The main suspect in the case spoke to News Channel 8 Monday.

Robert Kessler is no stranger to the law, and no stranger to News Channel 8. On Monday he spoke to 8 On Your Side’s Jeff Patterson. 8 On Your Side looked at his story and what he told police, and detectives say it’s a tale full of lies.

“I just kind of gave her a place to stay,” said Robert Kessler to 8 On Your Side Monday.

That’s what Kessler said about meeting Stephanie Crone-Overholts.

“He met her somewhere at a fast-food restaurant, and she had said she was living out of her car, and he invited her to live at his home,” said Chief Delgado.

“I invited her, I said I’ve got 3 bedrooms 2 baths, and you can just stay here for a couple of days and get yourself together, and she stayed here for a few days,” said Kessler.

Soon detectives say the story did not match up with evidence and their investigation.

“It was quickly determined that what he was telling us was not factual,” said Delgado.

Detectives report that Stephanie was indeed staying at Kessler’s home in Lutz when she disappeared. On Nov. 11, a fisherman found a human leg in McKay Bay. The next day, more body parts were found. The horrific story broadcast by the media along with the tattoo on her leg released by police got the attention of her family. After identifying her, the investigation picked up speed.

“They got a search warrant. They took my van, and they’re not going to find…there’s no evidence in there. There’s evidence that she had been here probably or something like that,” said Kessler.

That turned out to be false, said the interim chief of police.

“In fact, we located some of Stephanie’s blood in her car, and did a search warrant on Mr. Kessler’s house where we found more blood and a pair of shoes,” said Delgado.

8 On Your Side has learned that Kessler has a long criminal history dating back to the 1980s with convictions for drug-related charges out of Pinellas and Broward Counties.

Kessler was already in police custody on a separate drug charge when he was charged with second-degree murder and abuse of a dead body. We won’t know her exact cause of death until the coroner is done with that report.

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