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Suspect in Florida body burning case rams police cars

Nov. 13 (UPI) — Police have a fourth suspect in custody in the case of a body being burned in an alley in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Martellish Hale, 43, is accused of the abuse of a dead body, stemming from a chilling scene in August when the body of Heather Olmstead was found in a St. Petersburg dumpster, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Authorities initially had trouble identifying the body due to the severity of the burns. Olmstead was 31 years old.

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Police found a cellphone near the scene which they traced to Hale. He was also observed on surveillance footage meeting with another suspect, Jerrish Stephens, when Stephens placed a gas canister in Hale’s truck. Hale’s truck then followed another vehicle which has also been linked to the crime.

Officers arrested Hale Thursday after facing some resistance. They blocked his vehicle in and he proceeded to ram into their squad cars. He then broke free before driving his vehicle into a retention pond where he was ultimately captured.

Stephens, 41, was the third suspect arrested in the case. He was arrested in September after police used data from an ankle bracelet that he is court ordered to wear to link him to the site where Olmstead’s body was dumped. Stephens was arrested in December in connection to a stabbing death in Destin. The 36-year-old victim was found with a stab wound in their neck in a parking lot and Stephens was identified walking nearby with a knife.

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Julie Heltman Curran, 64, and her 30-year-old daughter Cree Worley were the first two suspects arrested in connection with Olmstead’s death and the subsequent post-mortem abuse of her body. A truck belonging to Curran was captured on video leaving the scene where Olmstead’s body was found while the dumpster was burning.

Hale faces 25 charges, including drug offenses and eluding officers.

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