GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - The father of a decorated sailor strangled in an Orange Park hotel room spoke out Wednesday.
"All this time I never knew how he was murdered and I didn't know the cause of death," Tom Allen, Cmdr. Alphonso Doss' father, said in a phone interview. "Of course I did not know who did it. And I lost a lot of sleep wondering who did it, why, etc. So it has been a real tough."
The father of the 44-year-old Navy commander said the last six months have been difficult, and hearing that his daughter-in-law is one of the three charged with his death is shocking.
In fact, three people are in jail with no bond after facing a Clay County judge Wednesday, on second-degree murder charges in connection with Doss' killing in February.
Yolinda Doss, 44, Alphonso Doss' wife, as well as Anthony Washington, 29, and Ronnie Wilson II, 33, had their first appearance Wednesday morning.
Investigators said the suspects made the killing look like a burglary. They believe the suspects' goal was to benefit financially.
Police said Tuesday that Yolinda Doss confessed and Washington also admitted to the crime. They said Wilson wouldn't talk.
Detectives said Yolinda Doss hoped to collect more than $1 million from Doss' life insurance, so Yolinda Doss, her boyfriend Anthony Washington, and roommate Ronnie Wilson, broke into the commander's motel room where he was living.
"The detectives believe the suspects devised a plan to kill Doss, to make it appear like a burglary scene at the hotel room. The two male suspects, with Yolinda Doss' assistance, gained access to the victim's room, waited for the victim to arrive, while Yolinda Doss served as a lookout across the street," said Chief Gary Goble of the Orange Park Police Department.
Doss was stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville when he was killed at the Astoria Hotel.
His father said the commander leaves behind a big family, now torn apart by his killing. He had a 16-year-old daughter now dealing with her father's death and her mother's arrest.
"I am very, very, very proud of him," Allen said of his son, Doss. "And I told him that every time I talked to him."
Allen said his son had a spectacular career, devoting his life to the Navy. He was killed just weeks before his planned retirement.
"Very painful, and disappointed in her of course," Allen said of Doss' death and his daughter-in-law's arrest. "And it is very painful that my granddaughter has to go without a father and particularly, if the woman is convicted, go without a mother."
Allen knew his son had been having troubles. He and Yolinda Doss separated. Their house went into foreclosure. Alphonso Doss moved into the Astoria Hotel and struggled with alcohol abuse, but Allen said his son was trying to get his life back on track.
"He had been having some problems with alcohol," Allen said. "And he said, 'Dad, I am going to get discharged honorably and I am going to get my full pension.' And he was very proud of that because the Navy apparently was standing behind him."
Allen said the problems were no reason to kill.
Some are wondering why the suspects aren't facing higher charges.
"It is important to remember that the State Attorney's Office can amend those charges and to upgrade them to a first-degree murder charge," said Casey Woolsey, a criminal defense attorney not affiliated with the case. "That the murder was committed for monetary reasons with the life insurance policy as well as the status of the victim, as a decorated Navy commander, it does seem like a case that the state would consider filing death penalty charges if they do end up filing first-degree murder charges."
"I am sorry that my daughter-in-law potentially has something to do with it," Allen said. "I just hope that justice comes for my son."
The next court hearing for the three suspects is scheduled for Sept. 9.
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