TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Prosecutors in the gruesome murder and dismemberment case involving suspect Robert Kessler suggested in court this week that there may be a second unknown victim.
Kessler is accused of killing Stephanie Crone-Overholts, dismembering her and disposing of her body parts in Tampa’s McKay Bay. A judge decided during a pretrial detention hearing on Wednesday to keep him behind bars until he stands trial.
Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon, who had been pushing to keep Kessler in jail while awaiting trial, argued that the suspect showed a disregard to the safety of the community. He then noted that a second set of DNA was found at the scene of the crime.
“We have an unknown DNA profile in the same area where [Crone-Overholts’] body was dismembered,” he said. “Now we don’t know for a fact whose DNA that is but we know it’s a female’s and it’s not [Kessler’s] and it’s contained within an area of blood. And it’s not the victim.”
“I would suggest to the court that alone shows a disregard for the safety of the community that now we potentially have two victims,” Harmon added.
The defense argued that bit of information should not be used when considering whether or not to hold Kessler.
“This argument about potentially another victim because there’s an unknown female profile… that should not be given any weight,” Assistant Public Defender Maria Dunker said.
Judge Catherin Catlin said she did not take that statement about the second set of DNA into consideration when making her decision. She decided to order Kessler remain behind bars given what she called “the total depravity that is evidenced in this crime.”
The prosecutor did not specify which sample submitted to FDLE analysts yielded two different DNA results. According to court documents, detectives sent three pieces of evidence to the FDLE to be processed: blood that was found on a pair of Kessler’s shoes, blood that was found on the mattress in the room where Crone-Overholts had been staying at Kessler’s home and blood that was found on a cabinet in Kessler’s kitchen.
The criminal report affidavit said all three samples matched the DNA of Crone-Overholts. The document did not mention any additional DNA samples.