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Kill For Me

Kill For Me

4.1 16
by M. William Phelps

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His Target

Aspiring model Sandee Rozzo's big mistake was being kind to Timothy "Tracey" Humphrey. After Rozzo refused the 'roided-up ex-con's advances, she described how he imprisoned, raped, and brutalized her for two days. When the courageous woman pledged to testify against him, Humphrey knew he had to silence her. . .

His Weapon

That's when


His Target

Aspiring model Sandee Rozzo's big mistake was being kind to Timothy "Tracey" Humphrey. After Rozzo refused the 'roided-up ex-con's advances, she described how he imprisoned, raped, and brutalized her for two days. When the courageous woman pledged to testify against him, Humphrey knew he had to silence her. . .

His Weapon

That's when he turned to 19-year-old Ashley Laney. She had fallen in love with Humphrey, her personal trainer, and would do anything for him. On their wedding night, he made a strange request—one that would end with eight gunshot wounds and a dead body.

His Scheme

The police knew Humphrey was the likely suspect, but he had an alibi for the time of the shooting. How could they prove that, even if he didn't pull the trigger, he was the manipulative psychopath behind Sandee's murder? It would all come down to a prison escape, a manhunt for a killer, and an explosive trial. . .

"One of our most engaging crime journalists." —Dr. Katherine Ramsland

"Phelps gets into the blood and guts of the story" —Gregg Olsen

Case seen on 48 Hours

Includes 16 Pages Of Shocking Photos

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
True crime maven Phelps (I'll Be Watching You) makes the 2003 murder of 37-year-old bartender Sandee Rozzo the focus of his latest nonfiction thriller. Though Phelps infuses his investigative journalism with plenty of energized descriptions, his writing nonetheless suffers from a lack of suspense: readers know from the beginning who's behind the cold-blooded crime. Rozzo was shot eight times outside her Florida townhouse, and all clues pointed to her friend Timothy "Tracey" Humphrey, a personal trainer full of "roid rage" who had a history of violence against women. Humphrey manipulated his young wife into carrying out his vendetta against Rozzo, who was preparing to testify that he kidnapped and raped her. True crime fans will appreciate Phelps's insight into detective work--even the tedium of checking phone records and examining autopsy reports is interesting--and the enormous effort that goes into building a case that will hold up before a jury. (Sept.)

Product Details

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4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2010 M. William Phelps
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-2200-7

Chapter One

The killer sat inside the car, eyes trained on the parking lot entrance.

"She's here," the killer said into the phone, and remained focused on the car as it entered the lot. It was approaching two o'clock in the afternoon of July 5, 2003. The target had pulled into her regular parking space at the Rocky Point, Tampa, Florida, Green Iguana Bar & Grill. She got out and locked her car. Then walked into the building to clock in for her bartending shift.

Rocky Point is a small island west of Tampa International Airport. It is a busy part of the Tampa Bay region, lots of ritzy hotels and high-end restaurants. There are pristine beaches, featuring hard and tanned bodies, and people mingling about, quite oblivious to what is going on around them. When you think of the atmosphere and ambiance here in Rocky Point, picture the colors that Jimmy Buffett's songs bring to mind: velvety blue water, yellow sun, white sand, puffy cotton clouds, lime-green drinks, with salt around the rim and tiny umbrellas pointed skyward.

"Go get ready," he said.

The killer hung up the phone, hopped into the backseat. Put on a pair of baggy pants. A large sweatshirt. Baseball cap. Copious amounts of black makeup-"I want you to look like a black guy," he had said-and a fake beard that wouldn't stick in the excessive heat of the day.

"The beard won't stay on," the killer said after calling him back.

"Forget it, then. But walk around the premises to see if anybody notices you."

The killer thought this to be an odd request. But then, over the course of the past several months since they had met, he had made numerous demands that didn't make much sense. Here, in the parking lot of the Green Iguana, no one knew the killer. Walk around with a disguise on? Wouldn't that, in and of itself, draw unneeded attention to the situation? They had gone through this scenario many times. Heck, they'd even tried to kill this woman once already. Why chance botching the thing again with some sort of crazy strut around the parking lot?

He had, however, trained-some would later say "brainwashed"-his killer well.

"Okay," the killer said to the request, and then got out of the car and took a short walk around the parking lot. It seemed that nobody was interested in a nervous-looking person wearing what was an over-the-top Halloween costume in the middle of summer.

Back inside the car, the killer sat. Adjusted the seat to get comfortable.

Now it was just a matter of playing the waiting game until the target emerged from the bar.

"Run up to her and shoot," the caller had said, explaining how he wanted the murder to go down.

Kill her in the parking lot in broad daylight?

As soon as she came out of the building after her shift, he had explained in more detail, the killer was to approach the woman-and, without thinking about it, without hesitation, without a worry that people would see, unload a magazine of bullets into her body. They had been through this part of the murder numerous times. Rehearsed the scenario. Talked about it until they were both blue in the face. That previous attempt the killer had botched, the shotgun had gone off too soon. The plan was abandoned; the evidence destroyed.

Today there would be no mistakes. The killer had a semiautomatic .22-millimeter Ruger pistol. A child could fire it.

Even though he had taught his killer how to shoot the weapon, he was still worried: "You walk up. You fire. You don't stop until the magazine is empty and the weapon is clicking."

"You look into her eyes!"

In theory, he made taking a life sound so easy.

Sitting, sketching out the plan, looking at the building, where the exits from the bar were located, the killer knew damn well that it was going to be impossible to murder the target inside the parking lot.

As the afternoon turned to dusk, the sun casting a brilliant red, yellow, and orange glow over Old Tampa Bay, the killer waited patiently, nodding in and out.

Then, as the sun disappeared over the cityscape, the killer came up with an even better plan. Thinking about it, darkness closing in around the car, the killer fell asleep.

Chapter Two

It was 10:30 P.M. The moon was full, casting an eerie shade of white light over the same translucent seawater that had, only hours before, seemed so tranquil and calming. For some, it had turned into one of those picturesque, postcard-perfect nights in Florida you see on the cover of travel brochures. No doubt, scores of boaters were out enjoying a late-evening Gulf of Mexico cruise.

Thirty-seven-year-old Green Iguana bartender Sandee Rozzo brought her cash register drawer into her boss's office at approximately 10:35 P.M. Sandee was in an "especially good mood," a coworker later said. All night long business had been steady, yet uneventful. It wouldn't be until after Sandee went home that the drama started, in the form of a bar fight, and two patrons had to be tossed. As Sandee prepared to clock out, it was your typical holiday weekend crowd. Glossy-eyed, alcohol-numbed, feeling no pain.

"[Sandee] had a lot of regular customers," another coworker reported, "and did not seem to have any problems with anyone."

True. Yet no one in the bar knew that Sandee's life, at that moment, hung in the balance inside the parking lot, her killer sound asleep inside a car, waiting for Sandee to emerge. Still, if Sandee had suspected that someone was stalking her-and she was certainly looking over her shoulder these days, expecting someone to do her harm-she wasn't showing any signs of that anxiety on this night. Sandee flashed her gorgeous white-toothed smile, so stunningly set against her bronze skin, perfectly smooth and blemish-free. She tossed her golden hair, which many of her girlfriends envied, and boasted a demeanor most would have assumed came from a woman without a care in the world.

As Sandee cashed out, counting her money against her receipts, her boss asked casually, not looking to pry, about her boyfriend. How things were going. Sandee had been unclear about the status of her most current relationship. To begin with, Sandee was quite reclusive and private, and this seemed to be a touchy subject for Sandee to broach lately. She was torn. Didn't know what to do. The road she had taken down the pathway of romance in recent years was not at all smooth. Sandee had had her share of problems with the lovers she'd chosen-and even some she hadn't.

"I'm seeing a man who takes care of me," Sandee said to her boss, with a defeated sense of tossing in the towel. In there somewhere was an "I'm comfortable and settling" attitude, her boss sensed. Sandee had been down the marriage route already. That hadn't worked out so well. Then she found the love of her life, a man who had changed her mind about taking that walk down the aisle again. She believed in second chances where love was concerned. He was perfect. They bought a house together. That white picket fence Sandee had always dreamed of-and told friends she so much wanted-was within arm's reach. The guy even loved her daughter. But then he got cold feet and decided Sandee wasn't "the one." So he dumped her, which sent Sandee into an abyss of melancholy and despair.

Now, as she counted her money and chitchatted with her boss, Sandee was talking about how she had found herself involved in one of those relationships that love experts on Oprah often tell women to run from: she loved the man but, Sandee said, she wasn't "in love" with him.

"You live with him, right?" her boss queried.

"Yeah. We have a townhome. He takes care of me. He's respectful. I just don't have those kinds of feelings for him. He's passive. We live in the same home but have separate rooms."

On paper, in other words, the guy was perfect. In her heart, well, it just wasn't what she wanted.

"Did you go out last night?" Sandee had brought a change of clothes to work the previous night, with the thought of heading out for a few drinks with friends after work. Her boss wasn't sure if she had gone or not. Changing the subject, it seemed, was a good idea.

"No ... he was disappointed that I was going out. We didn't have a fight or anything, but he wasn't happy."

"You worked late, huh?"

"To be honest, that's the only reason why I didn't go."

Sandee was tired, but in a "good mood" when she left, her boss later said. After squaring up her register and punching the time clock, Sandee Rozzo walked through the kitchen, pushed the exit door open, hit the parking lot, and headed for her car.

As Sandee Rozzo approached her car, unaware that someone had been in the parking lot for the past eight hours, her killer awoke.

But it was too late now to kill Sandee in the Green Iguana parking lot. She was already in her car, headlights on, stereo full tilt, pulling out onto the main road.

All of this went on as her killer realized what was happening and became unnerved, staring at Sandee as she pulled out.


The killer tore out of the parking space quickly, kicking up rubble, and got on the main road, but stayed far enough behind Sandee, so as not to be suspicious.

Pulling up right behind Sandee as she approached the bridge over Old Tampa Bay, the killer made another call. Police would learn later it was the twentieth call of the day the killer had made to the Svengali at home calling the shots.

"It will be over in a few minutes," the killer said, staring at the back of the target's BMW. "I'll call you when it's done."

As the stalker pulled up closer to Sandee's car as they drove, their cars just feet apart, no one could have imagined what happened next.

Chapter Three

It was cool out, now that the sun had been down for several hours. Considering that the Gulf of Mexico was in front of Sandee as she headed over the Howard Frankland Bridge, and it was nearly the middle of summer in Florida, "cool" meant the low 70s. Generally, Sandee liked to drive her black BMW with the top down, feeling Old Tampa Bay's salty air and gentle breeze caress her silky skin as she sped home like a movie star. But not tonight. Sandee took the twenty-five-minute drive with the top up. She was likely tired. Working two jobs had exhausted the woman. She wanted to be in her bed, snuggled up with her comforter, falling blissfully off to sleep. Tomorrow was another day.

Approaching the west end of the Howard Frankland Bridge, Sandee turned onto the 275 connector. From there, it was onto 118th Avenue North, toward the Pinellas Park townhome she shared with her "boyfriend."

By Sandee's side, on the tan leather passenger-side bucket seat, was the empty CD case to Madonna's American Life, one of Sandee's favorite discs these days. The Queen of Pop was blaring from the Beemer's speakers. With song titles like "Love Profusion," "I'm So Stupid," "Nobody Knows Me," and "Hollywood," Sandee could relate to the tone and feel of just about any song on the disc.

Life wasn't perfect for Sandee Rozzo, but it was getting better.

Day by day.

It must have felt reassuring to Sandee to feel good for once. Pain, confusion, depression, and regret are all temporary conditions for many. Sandee was smart; she knew this. She had been stressed lately. Ever since being brutally raped, beaten, and held hostage a little over a year ago by a guy she had worked with, a guy she had trusted and considered a friend, Sandee had dealt with the trauma in various ways. She liked to go off the deep end every once in a while, one source said, and get drunk. It had helped her forget that forty-eight-hour ordeal that changed her life. Of course, gone were the days of going out to the clubs all night and partying with friends until the wee hours of the morning. Sure, Sandee liked to tie one on now and then. But these days it was more to forget rather than to dance the night away. During one of those nights not too long ago, however, Sandee had gotten popped for a DUI. She had a court date for the DUI and another court date set to face her rapist. Both were coming up in a matter of weeks.

Heading off Route 275, Sandee drove down onto the 694/Park Boulevard. Then she took a sharp right onto the 693, Sixty-sixth Street. Passing the busy intersection, as if on autopilot, her car headed straight toward the Park Townhomes complex on her left, a rather exclusive, new condominium compound where Sandee had lived with Tony Ponicall, the guy she didn't know what to do with, for the past few months.

At this time of the night-somewhere near eleven-there was generally no one around. Outside the townhome, as Sandee pulled in, she didn't see anyone.

Yet, only a few car lengths behind, Sandee's killer loomed, following each one of Sandee's steps toward her home.

Admittedly, Sandee's stalker had been to the townhome a number of times already. "Roughly," the killer said later, "a half-dozen times."

On two of those occasions, the killer said, the Svengali on the other end of the line came along for the ride, pointing things out.

"You stop here. You run toward the garage there. You grab her [pocketbook] to make it look like a robbery. Don't let her shut off her car...."

The killer had, in fact, called the Svengali on the way.

"Get out at a stoplight," he had said, "and just shoot her!" The killer could hear the hate and anger and frustration in his voice. The sheer depths of evil. Nothing else mattered but the death of this woman, Sandee Rozzo.

The killer wasn't comfortable with that. No way.

As Sandee slowly maneuvered her BMW into the small opening of the garage, her killer pulled up in front of the neighbor's townhome and turned off the lights on the car. For a fleeting moment, the killer thought, Don't do this.... Turn the car on and leave. Run away. But then as quickly as that thought emerged, another came, You don't want to face him if you don't follow through.

Sandee believed her live-in partner, Tony Ponicall, was sleeping upstairs, as he usually was when she got home from the bar.

The killer, meanwhile, watching Sandee pull in, forgot about those voices, looked in all directions, and realized the coast was clear.

Sandee's back brake lights went from a bright to a dull red as Sandee took her foot off the brake shoe and put the car in park. She was inside the garage now, ready to shut off the car, collect her things, and head inside.

For the killer, it was do-or-die time. There was about a twenty-second window of opportunity before Sandee got out and walked into the home through the inside garage door, or closed the garage door.

The killer pulled up a few feet more and parked at the end of Sandee's driveway. Got out quickly. Ran up to the garage.

Sandee was gathering her pocketbook and clothes to step out of the car when she spotted someone dressed in a bizarre disguise. She was startled, of course, but she must have known as the killer came up to the driver's-side window and brandished that .22 pistol, this was it.

The end.

The killer "butted" the window, trying to shatter it.

Didn't work.

"So then," the killer said later, "I shot at the window to break it, and then shot at her several times."

Sandee reacted quickly; she started "kicking and screaming."

One bullet traveled through her foot, hit her in the face.

The killer kept firing, screaming as the gun unloaded eight rounds.

Bang. Bang. Bang.


Bang-bang-bang. Bang. Bang.

Sounded like rapid backfires from a car.

"I think I hit her in the foot and in the leg, like maybe in the torso several times," the killer later stated. "I am told that she was shot in the head, but I don't recall shooting her in the head."

The killer was staring directly at Sandee's face while firing. The murderer's eyes awash in violence and anger as Sandee fought for her life inside her BMW, watching her killer unload round after round into her body at point-blank range. It was almost surreal: happening, but not happening.

One bullet hit Sandee between the eyes.

"Look at her face," Svengali had told his killer, "to make sure she is dead...."

The killer did that.

Sandee appeared to be gone-though she wasn't. There was blood all over her face and torso, soaking quickly into her clothing like sweat. The carpeting on the floorboards of the Beemer was quickly saturated with even more blood.


Excerpted from KILL FOR ME by M. WILLIAM PHELPS Copyright © 2010 by M. William Phelps. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Kill for Me 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
koren56 More than 1 year ago
Interesting from beginning to end. Not repetive at all. With a book this size I thought this would be incredibly detailed and repetitive but not so. The characters are interesting. Couldnt put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another well written book by phelps....Bn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
its sad this asshole phelps is making money off of my family,and my sister sandy left a daughter behind with no college money we asked this guy to donate the money for my nieces college and he replied how can I put my kids thru colloge .ice ha.this is the author of this .my name is paul rozzo u can find me on face book
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