Men arrested in Suwannee slaying


Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:24 a.m.

Two men were behind bars Thursday after Suwannee County deputies arrested the pair in the killing of a man who was found partially buried in woods north of Live Oak.

Edward R. Spencer, 41, and Steven Michael Wells, 36, were arrested in the slaying of James Flowers, said Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron. The two men each were being held without bond on a first-degree murder charge, according to jail records.

Flowers, 41, died after he was choked and his throat was cut, apparently during a fight Wednesday night at a homeless camp located about a half mile north of the Live Oak city limits, Cameron said. The area is south of Interstate 10 and east of U.S. 129.

The three men knew each other and lived at the encampment and had argued earlier in the day, according to the Sheriff's Office. The argument flared again that night at about 7, authorities said.

"They held him down, the two of them, choked him and cut his throat," Cameron said.

A witness at the camp saw the attack, the sheriff said, but was afraid to immediately come forward.

Several hours later, however, the man saw two officers at a nearby convenience store and told them what had happened.

When officers entered the encampment, they found Flowers' body.

"The body was partially buried. Knees were partially sticking out of the ground," Cameron said.

Investigators don't know what started the fight but reported alcohol may have been involved.

"There was alcohol all over back there," Cameron said.

"They talked about that he was a loudmouth and this and that," Cameron explained, giving some of the details that officers had learned about the altercation. But, Cameron said, "it involved more than that, I think."

Officers said they had to search the woods near the camp to find Spencer and Wells, who ran from the site. About a dozen officers from different law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Live Oak Police Department and the Sheriff's Office, participated in the search.

Officers had seen Flowers and the suspects in the area before, Cameron said.

"We see them and have to move them away from stores when they are out there panhandling off and on. They move around different areas close by," Cameron said.

A criminal history check showed Wells had been charged last year with misdemeanor battery in Ocala, while Spencer had been accused of theft charges in Gadsden and Suwannee counties last year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Flowers' death marks Suwannee County's first murder investigation this year, the sheriff reported.

Lise Fisher can be reached at 352-374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.

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