LARGO — A paramedic fatally stabbed his live-in girlfriend with a 35-inch sword earlier this month just days after she threw him out for texting his ex-wife, authorities say.
James Quilliams, 40, was arrested Wednesday night in a cabin in east Tennessee, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. He faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of Teresa Sue Compton, 48. The two lived in a home Compton owned in Oldsmar.
On Monday, sheriff’s deputies went to Compton’s house at 4761 Stoneview Circle after a neighbor reported seeing blood in the driveway, near the front garage door, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.
Once they made their way inside through an open sliding glass door in back, they found a grisly scene and evidence of a struggle, the documents say. Inside the sliding glass door, there was a large pool of dried blood next to some broken glass, and a blood-smudged mat or rug rolled up near the interior door leading to the garage.
When they opened the door, they found Compton in the garage partially covered by a tarp, the documents say. Gualtieri said Quilliams had told his ex-wife he had tried to put Compton into his 2001 Nissan Xterra.
Compton was stabbed five to ten times, with one through-and-through wound with the sword’s 20-inch blade. She also had defensive wounds suggesting she put up her hands to ward off the blows, Gualtieri said.
“From the looks of it,” Gualtieri said, “he butchered her is what he did.”
Two days after Christmas, deputies were called to the home, Gualtieri said. Compton’s daughter, who was visiting from Tennessee, called authorities to say the couple got into a fight after Compton found text messages from Quilliams to his ex-wife, Kristi Quilliams, suggesting they get back together.
Compton put his belongings on the front porch, and told him to get out. He returned with a knife, slashing their mattress, Gualtieri said. He was gone again when deputies arrived, and Compton later allowed him to move back.
On Sunday, neighbors saw Quilliams sitting in his Xterra and they thought he had a “weird” look on his face, Gualtieri said. Later, they heard yelling and crying, but they did not call the sheriff’s office.
Deputies learned the couple fighting was “nothing new” in the neighborhood. The sheriff used Compton’s death as an occasion to encourage residents to report domestic abuse if they suspect it.
“Sticking your nose in somebody else’s business might save a life,” the sheriff said.
Tracing cell phone calls Quilliams made to his wife, Kristi, and checking local airlines, investigators discovered Quilliams flew to Knoxville at 7:20 p.m. Monday, hours after Compton’s body was found. A friend picked him up and took him to Pigeon Ford, about a 40-minute drive and just west of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Two days later, Pigeon Forge police arrested Kristi on drunken driving charges. When an officer asked her if she would like her husband to pick up her car, she replied, “No, he’s running from police. He just killed a woman in Florida,” Gualtieri said.
Rangers from the National Park Service then scoured roads and trails in the national park, advising motorists not to pick up any hitchhikers.
Authorities got a tip Quilliams had access to a cabin about 10 miles from Pigeon Forge, and they found him there. [email protected] (727) 215-6504.