Deputies search for man accused of killing wife

Kenneth Poythress Jr. also injured wife's mother and a child, deputies say

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Clay County deputies are on the hunt for a man who they say killed his wife, injured her mother and harmed a child Sunday afternoon in the Argyle Forest area.

Kenneth Leonard Poythress Jr., 36, is accused of killing his wife, 34-year-old Curtishia Poythress, at a home on Heron Nest Point.

When deputies responded to the home at 1:45 p.m. Sunday, they found Curtishia dead, her mother injured and a child with minor injuries, the Sheriff's Office said. The child's relationship to the two women has not been released.

Poythress is wanted for one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and armed burglary.

Antonio Hood, Curtishia's father, told News4Jax that he and his granddaughter went to the store Sunday and when they returned home, he saw Poythress leaving the house. Inside, they found Curtishia had been killed and Hood's wife had been stabbed.

“We saw him take off in the car, but we didn’t know it was him at the time. I thought it was my daughter. He took my daughter's car,” Hood said. “My daughter died from injuries, but I can't say any more on that.”

Hood said deputies are now looking for his daughter's red or maroon four-door 2008 Honda Accord with Florida license plate number 037LSE. Poythress was last seen wearing jeans, a dark-colored shirt, an orange construction-type vest and a camouflage cap.

“He needs to turn himself in,” Hood said.

Hood said Poythress and his daughter had been separated for a year, but Poythress had never been violent toward the family. He said Poythress drove to the Heron Nest Point home in his own vehicle, which he left at the scene when he took off in his wife's car.

Poythress has a previous criminal history in Duval County, including arrests for battery, sexual assault, making threats and soliciting for prostitution. 

The arrest for making threats involved an incident in which Jacksonville police said Poythress threatened to kill his brother and his brother's family. The incident report for that case indicated that Poythress' brother suspected that Poythress suffers from mental illness.

Curtishia worked for Crowley, and the company released a statement Monday about her death:

Crowley is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our employees, Curtishia Poythress. Curtishia was a valued member of the Crowley team, serving as a senior finance analyst in Crowley’s petroleum services group in Jacksonville since joining the company in January. We offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to her family and friends. Crowley is assisting law enforcement in its investigation.

Bryan Patel, who lives next door to the home where Curtishia was killed, said he was shocked and would never have expected to come home to a crime scene. 

"I didn't know anything like this had even happened until I pulled up and I saw this going on," Patel said. 

Many in the neighborhood told News4Jax they'd be looking out for one another until Poythress is caught.

"People will be on the lookout," Bianca Gheller said.

Another neighbor, Mark Henshaw, said the family has lived in the home for 10 years and he doesn't know why anyone would hurt them.

“The family is really quiet. It's really nice. You know, over time, you pass by them, they wave. They say, 'Hello.' They ask you how you're doing. They are really really polite people,” Henshaw said. “It really was (shocking). This isn’t something that we would ever think that would happen.”

Anyone with information about Poythress' whereabouts is asked to call the Clay County Sheriff's Office at 904-264-6512.

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