Deputies: Palm Coast man killed over rent dispute

Tenant charged with second-degree murder of 76-year-old landlord

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

PALM COAST, Fla. - An apparent argument over rent and living arrangements resulted in the death of a 76-year-old Palm Coast man and his tenant being arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Eric Elom Niemi, 42, was charged with the death of 76-year-old Leonard Leon Lynn early Sunday Morning. Lynn's body was discovered in a bedroom of his home on Ryken Lane, where Niemi was renting a room from Lynn

Deputies were called to the home at 5:57 p.m. Saturday, but they couldn't make contact with anyone inside the home and didn't see any signs of forced entry.

Deputies went back to the home just after 9 p.m. and met with Lynn's relative, who had arrived from Jacksonville, and let deputies into the home where the body was discovered. Detectives believe the homeowner was killed sometime Wednesday, and according to the medical examiner, the death was a result of blunt force trauma.

Authorities said this incident was a result of an argument between tenant and landlord, over things like rent and living arrangements.

Niemi (align, right) was located a short time later in possession of Lynn's vehicle. After being questioned by detectives, he confessed to killing the 76-year-old. Niemi is also charged with one count of grand theft auto.

"This was a tragic and senseless death. Hopefully the quick resolution of this case will allow Mr. Lynn's family to start the healing process," said Sheriff James L. Manfre.

One neighbor who asked not to be shown on camera said NiemiĀ  had rented a room from Lynn for several months and she had doubts about him right from the get-go.

"I had told my son and other family members out of town I had spoken to that I didn't trust the guy who was over there, and I worried about Mr. Lynn," she said.

Lynn's neighbor said although she's saddened that this happened, she's not shocked.

"I wasn't really surprised of it because I worried about him," she said. "Because he was old, hard of hearing, needed help with many things, yet tried to be a good-hearted person. So very easy for people to take advantage of that."

Niemi is currently at the Flagler County Detention Facility, being held without bond.

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