Trust was costly for Abraham Shakespeare
For Abraham Lee Shakespeare, who could barely read or write but knew his way around the Bible, Nov. 15, 2006, was just another Wednesday. Until he pulled into the Town Star convenience store in Frostproof. Shakespeare and co-worker Michael Ford were taking a break from delivering supplies to Arby's and Checkers. Ford went into the store and bought, among other things, two Florida Lottery tickets at Shakespeare's request. One ticket spit out six numbers - 6, 12, 13, 34, 42 and 52. It was every lottery player's dream: The big one, an estimated $30 million jackpot.Less than three years later, Shakespeare was dead, the victim of "homicidal violence," according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He had already gone through most of the nearly $13 million he received in a lump-sum payment after taxes. According to relatives, Shakespeare was miserable early on from his newfound fortune. Even before Shakespeare could pick up his winnings, the lottery ticket became a curse, says his cousin, Cedric Edom. Word quickly filtered throughout Shakespeare's Lakeland neighborhood that the tall, thin man in the little wooden home on Pear Street had come into a tremendous fortune. Instantly, says Edom, people began approaching Shakespeare, asking for money. Edom says he found out his cousin was a wealthy man when a local businessman came over to his house and told him he no longer needed to worry about money, because Shakespeare had won a bundle. Then the man said something troubling. Shakespeare was bringing people with him to Tallahassee to pick up his winnings. 'Being pressured' The next day, Edom says, he found out Shakespeare was bringing along a man from the neighborhood and the man's children. By the time Shakespeare got back, he had agreed to give the man $1 million for himself and another $1 million for the children, Edom said. Shakespeare was driving back from Tallahassee when he called, says Edom. He said from Shakespeare's voice, he knew that just hours into being a multimillionaire, his cousin was miserable. "You could tell he was being pressured," says Edom. "You could tell he was uncomfortable." Edom says there seemed to be no end to people who wanted to latch onto Shakespeare for his money. "Shakespeare and Associates," Edom calls them. Investigators say one of those people - Dorice Donegan "Dee Dee" Moore - helped cover up his killing. Moore is now sitting in a cell at the Orient Road Jail, charged with being an accessory after the fact of a first-degree murder. She is being held on $1 million bail. At her bond hearing Wednesday, prosecutors said that Moore made many statements about Shakespeare's death, blaming it on her 14-year-old son, an unnamed lawyer, an unnamed cousin of Shakespeare and also on herself, saying she killed him in self-defense. Deputies in Hillsborough and Polk counties are now trying to unravel how Abraham Shakespeare managed to run through more than $11 million in less than three years and how he wound up buried on a property owned by Moore and her boyfriend in Turkey Creek, under 5 feet of dirt and about 4 inches of concrete. A man of much trust As people glommed on to Shakespeare, he had troubles on other fronts. Michael Ford, who purchased the winning ticket, sued him in April 2007, claiming it was his. The suit was decided in Shakespeare's favor that October, but that wasn't the end of his troubles. Financial advisers and real estate agents latched on, says Edom. Shakespeare was giving out loans he was never able to collect on, says Edom. He was giving away cars and trucks. "He trusted people," Edom says. "They knew he couldn't read or write, but he trusted them to do the right thing. But they never did the right thing." Shakespeare even bought Edom a house, at 1418 W. Lake Parker in Lakeland, which he purchased in June 2008 for $103,000, according to Polk County records. Then Dee Dee Moore entered the picture. In an interview in her home Monday, Moore said she first met Shakespeare toward the end of 2008. She said she wanted to write a book about his life and that by the time she met him, he had run through almost all of his money. Polk County records show Shakespeare bought a two-story, 6,500-square-foot home for more than $1 million in January 2007 and sold it to American Medical Professionals - a company owned by Moore and her boyfriend - in January 2009 for $655,000. Around the same time, AMP purchased Edom's home for $102,000. The millionaire disappears Cedric Edom says he remembers the last time he saw his cousin: April 3, 2009. Shakespeare and Moore arrived at Edom's house with a burgundy Cadillac that Shakespeare wanted to give to Edom. Edom said it was too old and besides, he didn't want Shakespeare to give the man he was buying the car from any more money. Moore, says Edom, agreed and said they would buy a newer car at an auction. Then they left. The next day, Edom says, he talked to Shakespeare again by phone about the car. It was the last conversation they would ever have. Sometime around May, he says, he started to worry. He put fliers up at black churches in Lakeland but no one knew where Shakespeare was, says Edom. He continued putting fliers up. And talking with Elizabeth Walker, trying to keep her spirits up, trying to help her hold on to the dream that maybe her son Abraham Shakespeare was still alive. Near the end of September, Edom says, Moore approached him with an offer. She knew he needed money. He and his wife had been arrested for driving with suspended licenses and his son was about to go off to college. So for $5,000, he agreed to give Shakespeare's mother a birthday card, purporting to be from Shakespeare, he said. Edom says he did nothing wrong. He took the money and delivered the card, but never said it was from Shakespeare. In November, he called the Polk County Sheriff's Office and reported Shakespeare missing. The mystery ends There is a good reason why Edom couldn't find his cousin, according to investigators. Shakespeare was killed sometime between April 6 and April 7, at 5732 State Road 60 just outside of Plant City, according to a probable cause affidavit. Edom says Moore eventually told him what happened. Shakespeare was set up for a robbery inside the house. He pulled his gun out, but there were no bullets. Then he was shot twice. Tuesday night, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee released the arrest affidavit for Moore. It offers a chilling account of what investigators say Moore did to help cover up Shakespeare's slaying. By November 2009, investigators were already well aware of the slab and the likelihood that Shakespeare was under it, according to Richard Land and Bernard Thomas, two men who say they spoke to investigators. According to the affidavit: By late December, Moore began covering her tracks. Between Dec. 28 and Jan. 21, Moore approached a source asking if he knew anyone awaiting sentencing to prison who would admit killing Shakespeare in return for $50,000. For the money, that person would have to dig up Shakespeare's body and move it to another location. On Jan. 25, Moore met with the source and gave him a Smith & Wesson .38 she said was the weapon used in the slaying. Then she showed the source the concrete slab at 5802 S.R. 60, placing a steel bar to mark the spot where he should remove the body. She said she would leave a white Ford F-150, with an enclosed trailer. Inside the trailer, there was a galvanized steel trough, bleach, gloves and plastic sheeting. Moore later told deputies she bought a bag of lime to place over Shakespeare's body when it was buried. Three days later, deputies recovered Shakespeare's remains from under the slab. Investigators and prosecutors say that in the coming weeks, they expect more arrests.
Editor Howard Altman can be reached at (813) 259-7629.