ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested several people, including a son of a prominent flooring store chain’s late founder, as part of an investigation into the death of a 22-year-old woman whose body was found in an alley last year.
The woman, Taylor McAllister, a mother of two, was last seen alive at the Palm Harbor home of 52-year-old Robert Butler III, investigators said. His father was the founder of Bob’s Carpet and Flooring, the chain with more than a dozen stores in West Florida.
Authorities found McAllister’s body in an alley near 63rd Avenue S on Dec. 22, 2016.
Detectives later learned that she had been left there by Deonte Baker, 35, and Quran Archer, 25, who told investigators they picked up McAllister from Butler’s home when she was "barely conscious," according to a police report issued Wednesday.
After they realized McAllister was dead, the men tried to return to Butler’s house in Palm Harbor’s Cobb’s Landing neighborhood, according to arrest reports. But Butler did not let them, investigators said. Instead, the men told detectives, Butler allowed them to remove McAllister’s personal belongings and also to have their truck cleaned.
Butler faces charges of failure to report a death, felony possession of marijuana and being a felon in possession of ammunition. He could not be reached for comment, but jail records show he was released on $15,150 bail Wednesday.
Baker is facing charges of failure to report a death and money laundering. He is a drug dealer, according to the arrest reports, and from March 2013 through April 2016, cashed $194,150 in checks from a drug buyer, laundering it through his girlfriend’s personal and business accounts.
Authorities did not name the buyer. They also did not release a cause of death for McAllister. They said that the case is still under investigation and that more charges could be filed in the future.
Baker’s relationship to Butler was not clear from police reports. Butler has a lengthy arrest history, including for drug charges, and was convicted in the early 1990s of aggravated assault with a firearm.
McAllister’s father, Bill, said she had twin daughters and was living with Butler before her death. He said his daughter struggled with a pill addiction, and people who knew her said the older man was supplying her with drugs and money, like a "sugar daddy."
"Taylor, she did have an addiction and was battling that, and I think he kind of for his benefit took advantage of that and her situation," Bill McAllister said. "I mean, what is a 52-year-old doing with a 22-year-old?"
McAllister’s parents questioned why Butler did not get their daughter help if she was ailing.
"If someone’s barely conscious in your house, why would you not call 911?" Bill McAllister asked.
According to Times archives, Butler was a general manager at his family’s carpet store in Largo in the mid 1990s. His father, the founder of the business, died last December. State corporate filings do not list the younger Butler as an agent for the business in 2017, but last year he was a vice president. No one at the corporate office could be reached for comment.
In addition to Butler and Baker, Archer, 25, is also accused of failing to report a death. Two other people, Miriam Humphrey, 31, and Kadijah Hunt, 24, each face a charge of money laundering.
Contact Zachary T. Sampson at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804. Follow @ZackSampson.