Man charged with murder 2 weeks after Atlantic Coast High teacher strangled

Zebulon Perkins charged with 2nd degree murder in death of Vivian James

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man that was arrested after police found him driving the car of an Atlantic Coast High School teacher who was found dead in her Westside home has been charged with second-degree murder.

Jail records show the additional charge was added to 27-year-old Zebulon Perkins’ inmate sheet Friday afternoon. He’s charged in the death of Vivian James and held without bond in the Duval County jail.

During a news conference Friday evening at the Sheriff’s Office, Assistant Chief Brian Kee said the medical examiner determined James’ cause of death was strangulation.

Investigators said they found Perkins driving Vivian James’ car. An arrest report said police found James’ cellphone, credit cards and a bag with a pair of bloody sweatpants inside the car.

According to Kee, Perkins was loading property into the car and throwing items into a dumpster at the Hospitality Inn. During an interview, Kee said, Perkins admitted to going to James’ house on Dec. 26.

James, 49, was found dead the morning of Dec. 28 in her home on Glen Alan Court near 103rd Street. Investigators said that she had been dead for 48 hours before she was discovered by a friend who came to check on her.

Perkins is additionally charged with tampering with evidence and dealing in stolen property.

A search of Perkins’ criminal history revealed arrests for assault, battery and drug possession.

A woman who asked not to be identified said she allowed Perkins to rent a room in her home said she could have been killed by him. She said she felt bad when she learned James died by strangulation.

“That could have been me being strangled in my sleep and scared to go to sleep with that man in my house," the woman said.

She said back in 2018, she met Perkins online. Perkins told her he needed a place to stay and so she allowed him to rent a room in her home if he paid rent every week. She said he lived in her home for two weeks and never paid his rent but was causing problems by bringing women into the home and getting into confrontations with them, so she tried to put him out.

“The threat I got was if I came back home, he was going to kill me, he was going to shoot me, and my house was going to be empty," she said. "When I came back home my house was empty. I had no bedroom set. Nothing in my house.”

She says she called the police and Perkins was later arrested.

A search of Perkins’ criminal history revealed arrests for assault, battery and drug possession.

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