Adopted Ukrainian son, 22, charged with murdering Florida parents, leading police on hourslong manhunt
A 22-year-old adopted from Ukraine as a teenager has been charged with murdering his adopted parents at their Florida home before leading police on an hourslong chase.
Dima Tower, who recently celebrated his birthday behind bars, was booked into the Sarasota County Jail on two counts of murder last week.
Local reports say Tower is accused of brutally stabbing his two adoptive parents, 49-year-old Robbie Tower and 51-year-old Jennifer Tower, in the home they lived in together in North Port, Florida. Relatives said the couple, unable to have children on their own, adopted Dima from an orphanage in Ukraine at age 14.
Robbie Tower’s uncle, Warren Rines, describe the couple to the New York Post as “two really good, caring people.”
The couple, active in the Christian church, went on several mission trips to Ukraine and eventually adopted Dima, whose biological mother died when he was a child and biological father abandoned him at an orphanage. The then-teenager would have bruises on him from his time at the orphanage, Rines recalled to the Post.
“When they went out to eat, he would have like six hot dogs. He wasn’t getting a lot to eat. These orphanages are like prison for kids,” Rines said.
“When I first met him, he was interested in boxing,” Rines, a martial arts enthusiast himself, added. “But he didn’t want to box. He wanted to hit. He wanted to hurt.”
Officers arrived to a “very gruesome scene” after being dispatched to a disturbance shortly before midnight Aug. 31 in the 1200 block of Mallicoat Road, Josh Taylor, spokesperson for the North Port Police Department, told FOX 13 Tampa..
WINK News reported officers entered the home through the side garage door and found the married couple lying head-to-head face down on the living room floor covered in blood. Authorities said it appeared the violent attack spanned several rooms in the house.
The North Port Police Department said a White male was soon observed entering a vehicle registered to then-21-year-old Dima Tower, and a pursuit was initiated.
The vehicle ultimately fled north on I-75, where it was forced to a stop at mile marker 192, in the unincorporated area of Venice, Florida. Investigators said Tower exited the vehicle and fled on foot into the nearby woods. After a more than seven-hour-long manhunt, Tower was located near I-75 and Laurel Road and taken into custody, police said.
The Venice Police Department, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol assisted in the search.
Rines told the Post that Robbie Tower was forced to call the police on Dima about three years ago, after his adoptive son allegedly attacked him and left him with a black eye. Dima went to live with Jennifer Tower’s relatives for a while, but the couple later forgave him, Rines said.
“It wasn’t all bad,” Rines said. “But I think the boy just had a lot of hate in him already before he came here. And I guess you take it out on the ones closest to you.”
“That’s how much he loved him,” Rines added. “They forgave him for everything. They bought him a car, whatever he wanted or needed.”
Police have not publicly disclosed a motive as the double homicide investigation continues.
Online jail records show Dima’s arraignment in the double-murder case is scheduled for Nov. 3.