I-TEAM: Man suspected of killing 34-year-old woman at Southside apartment has violent criminal past

Man had been previously questioned in case of missing woman in Virginia

New details are coming to light after a woman was found dead in a unit of the Auburn Glen Apartment complex on the Southside Tuesday night.

New details are coming to light after a woman was found dead in a unit of the Auburn Glen Apartment complex on the Southside Tuesday night.

The victim’s family has identified the victim as 34-year-old Ashley Denise Fowler of Jacksonville. Family members told News4JAX they are devastated. They said Ashley Fowler was a mother of three boys who loved to joke around.

“She was funny,” said her brother Taylor Fowler. “She was goofy...she loved her kids. That was definitely her focus.”

The I-TEAM learned the man suspected of killing her, Otis Lee Tucker, has a violent criminal past and had previously been questioned in the case of a missing woman in Richmond, Virginia.

Tucker is in custody in Duval County after being picked up Wednesday morning.

Fowler’s family told News4JAX they had never heard of the suspect. Taylor Fowler said his sister Ashley would walk through the Auburn Glen complex as a shortcut, but wasn’t known to hang out there.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, officers arrived at the Auburn Glen Apartments on Southside Boulevard, just north of Baymeadows Road, a little after 9 p.m. Tuesday in response to a disturbance call. Officers said residents told them they heard loud banging and screaming coming from one of the apartments.

Fowler’s family said she was beaten and strangled, but they’re still waiting on the official cause of death from the medical examiner.

According to JSO, Tucker was arrested about 12 hours after the incident after he was found walking on Bowden Road, about a 10-minute drive from the scene. He’s now charged with a murder that was not premeditated and tampering with evidence.

“My sister didn’t deserve this.” Taylor Fowler said. “She was a beautiful person...I really hope our justice system steps up and makes sure these criminals and people who have a clear history of hurting people stay put away.”

Virginia court records show Tucker was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after pleading guilty to strangulation unlawful bodily injury. A rape charge had been dropped, records show.

He was also the last person to be seen with 21-year-old KeeShae Jacobs, who went missing in Richmond, Virginia six years ago, according to her mother.

A spokesperson with the Richmond Police Department provided the following statement to News4JAX:

“The investigation into the disappearance of Keeshae Jacobs is active and ongoing. RPD is aware of developments in this case and our lead detective is in contact with the authorities in Jacksonville, Florida. Anyone with information about the disappearance of Jacobs is asked to call Major Crimes Detective A. Coates at 804-646-0729 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.”

21-year-old KeeShae Jacobs

News4JAX spoke with Jacobs’ mother on Friday.

“Everything in my heart saying that my daughter is still out here,” Toni Jacobs said.

Q: What was your reaction when you heard he’d been taken in on a murder charge in Jacksonville?

I wasn’t surprised. And my thought was, oh, my God, who they are. And then you know, I found there was a young lady and everything. And my heart just went out to the family.”

The Virginia Department of Corrections confirmed Tucker has been out of prison on probation—and he was allowed to move to be with his fiancé to Florida—where his supervision continued.

Records show Tucker was arrested by JSO in July on charges of making false 911 calls and lying to law enforcement.

A spokesperson from Virginia DOC said they didn’t take any action after the July arrest because he had not been convicted. JSO says it’s up to the probation officer to issue a warrant for violation of probation, so he was released.

Local media in Richmond reported last November that Tucker was sentenced to another two years in prison for beating another inmate.

A detective in Richmond told News4JAX that sentence was thrown out because of procedural issues with the prosecution.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter