TAVARES, Fla. - A central Florida man used a baseball bat to beat his girlfriend and her mother to death before running away and drowning himself, officials said Tuesday.
Police identified James Jones, 32, as the suspect in the beating deaths of Shannon Ratliff, 42, and her mother, Mavis Ratliff, 66, in Tavares on Monday evening.
Shannon Ratliff's brother, Eddie Ratliff, also was injured in the attack, and he underwent surgery Tuesday morning, Tavares police spokeswoman Joyce Ross said. Eddie Ratliff is an employee of the city of Tavares, about 30 miles northwest of Orlando.
Jones was confronted by officers, and police said he ran away and then drowned himself in a nearby lake, according to police.
The suspect's father told detectives that Jones was schizophrenic and had stopped taking his medication, according to a police report.
Police officers were first alerted to the beatings when Eddie Ratliff's co-worker called 911. The caller reported that Ratliff was headed to his sister's home after she phoned him and said her boyfriend was beating her.
When an officer arrived at the scene, he saw Jones holding a bat near a van outside the home. "What ya going to do?" said Jones, according to the police report.
The officer ordered Jones to drop the bat and prepared his stun gun. "Come on and tase me. Come on and tase me," Jones said.
Jones threw the bat to the ground and bolted, according to the report.
The officer called for backup and then noticed Mavis Ratliff lying on the ground beside the van, alive with a head wound. Forty feet away, he saw Eddie Ratliff also on the ground with a head wound, the report said.
Other officers arrived. When they searched the house, they found Shannon Ratliff dead from what appeared to be severe head trauma, the report said.
Mavis Ratliff was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
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