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Deputies release details in murder for hire case | Crime

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Deputies release details in murder for hire case
Crime, News, People
Deputies release details in murder for hire case

Lithia, Florida-- Deputies announced earlier this week that on Friday, August 3, Luis Angel Lopez was found guilty of the murder of Thomas Sehorne after a week long trial. 

Lopez allegedly killed Sehorne on June 7, 2007, but deputies say Michael Garcia, Jerry Bottoroff and Cristie-Sehorne-Bottorff, Sehorne's wife at the time of the murder, had a part in the murder as well.

Garcia cooperated as a witness with officials for over two years, and Jerry Bottorff and Cristie Sehorne-Bottorff pled guilty on July 9, 2012, deputies say. 

Today, August 10, deputies released a detailed description of the events leading up to Thomas Sehorne's murder, and the investigation that followed. 

They say a tip from Lana Garcia, Michael Garcia's wife, informed officials of her husband's involvement, and the down payment of $5,000 from Bottorff and Sehorne-Bottorff to commit the crime. 

According to deputies, Michael Garcia told them that he introduced Luis Lopez to Bottorff and Sehorne-Bottorff, and that they planned to pay Garcia $60,000 once he committed the murder and they collected the insurance policy. 

The release describes the events in depth: 

On June 6, 2007, at approximately 8:08 a.m. HCSO received a 911 call from Cristie Sehorne who reported that she had just discovered the body of her husband, Thomas Sehorne lying on the carport just outside of the residence. 

  • Deputies responded and discovered Mr. Sehorne and what appeared to be a bullet hole in the victim's abdominal area.
  • Cristie Sehorne was taken to Criminal Investigation Division to provide a statement to detectives.  During the interview detectives learned that Cristie Sehorne was involved in a romantic relationship with Jerry Bottorff.  Sehorne stated that she had met Bottorff at a local "Swingers" club.
  • Detectives interviewed Jerry Bottorff and he confirmed that he and Cristie Sehorne were involved in a relationship.  Bottorff stated that he did not have any information about the death of Thomas Sehorne.

On June 8, 2007 an autopsy was conducted at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office which revealed that the victim had suffered two separate gunshot wounds. 

  • The bullet fragments were recovered and examined by the FDLE.  
  • A report by FDLE indicated that the fragments were of limited identification value.

Through the course of the investigation

  • Detectives discovered several phone calls between Michael Garcia, Cristie Sehorne and Jerry Bottorff were captured. 
  • The telephone calls between the individuals ceased after the homicide of Thomas Sehorne.
  • After viewing the phone records, detectives contacted Michael Garcia.  Garcia stated that he had met both Thomas and Cristie Sehorne at the "Pleasure Palace" club in Tampa.  Garcia stated that he was often employed by Cristie Sehorne to do landscape work at her residence; however, this explanation did not seem plausible due to the degraded condition of the lands surrounding the Sehorne residence.

On May 6, 2008, Detective Thomas Pettis received a telephone call from Ms.Lana Garcia.

  • She stated she had information in reference to the homicide of Thomas Sehorne.  
  • Ms Garcia was the wife of Michael Garcia.  Ms. Garcia stated that her husband was paid $5,000.00 to kill Thomas Sehorne. 
  • Ms. Garcia stated that another person, Luis Lopez, was involved in the murder along with her husband.

On June 13, 2008

  • Detective Pettis along with agents from the Tampa FBI Office conducted an interview with Michael Garcia. 
  • During the interview, Garcia stated that he was initially approached by Jerry Bottorff and asked if he knew anyone that would be interested in committing a homicide for money. 
  • Garcia stated that over a period of several months, both Jerry Bottorff and Cristie Sehorne had contacted him weekly to inquire as to whether or not he was able to locate a person to commit the murder. 
  • Garcia stated that he subsequently introduced Luis Lopez to Bottorff and Sehorne. 
  • Garcia agreed upon a price of $60,000.00 for the murder. 
  • Garcia stated that Bottorff and Sehorne told him that he would be paid from an insurance policy that Cristie would receive after the death of her husband Thomas Sehorne.
  • Garcia stated that Jerry Bottorff returned several days later and offered him $5,000.00 as a down payment. 
  • Garcia stated that he and Luis Lopez drove to the Sehorne residence approximately two weeks prior to the murder.  Garcia stated that Jerry Bottorff had called him the day of the murder to advise him of the victim's schedule.
  • Garcia stated  that on the day of the murder, Lopez came to his home armed with a handgun. They drove to the victim's residence in a vehicle owned by Lopez. 
  • Garcia described how the victim arrived home and was subsequently shot by Lopez as he hid nearby.  Garcia and Lopez fled the scene.  Garcia stated that he disposed of the clothing that he and Lopez were wearing in a trash can at a car wash on Highway 301 at the Alafia River. Garcia also stated that he disposed of the gun by throwing it into the Alafia River.

On February 25, 2009

  • Members of the HCSO Underwater Recovery Team recovered the firearm disposed of by Michael Garcia.

On May 4, 2009

  • Michael Garcia contacted Jerry Bottorff via telephone.  During the conversation Jerry Bottorff agreed to visit Michael Garcia at the Hillsborough County Jail on May 9, 2009.

On May 9, 2009 and May 29, 2009

  • Both Jerry Bottorff and Cristie Sehorne visited Garcia in the Hillsborough County Jail. The visits were monitored and recorded.

On August 18, 2009

  • Michael Garcia contacted Jerry Bottorff by telephone and discussed making a payment for the murder to a third party. 
  • During the conversation it was agreed that the payment would take place at the McDonald's located at the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue and Bell Shoals Road.

On August 21, 2009

  • Detectives made contact with Jerry Bottorff at the McDonalds.
  • Bottorff delivered an envelope containing $6,000 in US currency to undercover detectives.

On November 18, 2009

  • Garcia placed a telephone call to Jerry Bottorff to discuss the remainder of the payment that was due. 
  • During the conversation Bottorff acknowledged that he still owed $54,000.00 for payment of the murder.

On June 7, 2010

  • Detectives requested Garcia make telephone contact with Bottorff to arrange a pay-off.
  • Arrangements were made with Bottorff to deliver $6,000 in cash to the McDonald's located at the intersection of Bloomingdale Avenue and Bell Shoals Road. 
  • Garcia instructed Bottorff to deliver the money to the same person that he had delivered money to in the past.  Bottoff agreed.

On June 9, 2010

  • Undercover detectives made contact with Bottorff.  The money was delivered to the detectives.  Surveillance revealed Cristie Sehorne-Bottorff waiting outside the restaurant.
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