Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dixie County, Florida

From of April 27, 2006
Self-defense claimed in boyfriend's death

A Dixie County woman told investigators she fatally shot her boyfriend Tuesday night to protect herself and her children.

Deputies were called to a home in the Forest Hills neighborhood, north of Old Town off State Road 349, shortly before 11 p.m. and found the body of Craig Wells, 45, according to the Dixie County Sheriff's Office.

Wells appeared to have two gunshot wounds in his chest.

Wells' girlfriend, Tonda Burdette, 30, apparently fired the shots, said Dixie County Sheriff Dewey Hatcher.

Officers had not made an arrest in the case Wednesday, saying that Burdette and witnesses, including two children who live at the home and a relative of Wells who was visiting, claim the shooting was in self-defense.

"It was a domestic dispute between her and her children and Mr. Wells," Hatcher said the family has told investigators.

"She claimed they had been fighting," Hatcher said.

Neighbors also told officers they heard people arguing at the home earlier in the day.

Hatcher said his office has no record of being called to the home for prior reports of domestic violence.

Burdette had some small abrasions and scratches on her, Hatcher said.

Five children, ages 8 to 15, live at the home. The five are now staying with a relative, Hatcher said.

The case remains open as officers continue to gather more information.

Two guns - a .22-caliber revolver and a small-caliber semiautomatic handgun - were found in the home.

Investigators are awaiting additional testing to match a weapon to the shooting, and they also want toxicology results from both Burdette and Wells.

The couple had been together for 14 years, Burdette told officers.

"That's a long time, and then everything just came apart at the seams," Hatcher said.

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