- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Editor's note: Some details of this story may be disturbing.
An arrest was made Thursday in the death of DeAnna Lee Stires, the young woman found in the woods east of Otter Creek by hunters.
Byron Lee Boutin, 50, of Homosassa was arrested Wednesday and charged with second degree murder and being a felon in possession of a .38 pistol, according to an arrest report on the Citrus County Sheriff's Office website.
Boutin is accused of causing Stires' death by injecting her with illegal narcotics and hitting her in the head with the handgun, then after carrying her body around in the trunk of his 1996 Lincoln for two days, of dumping her tied and duct-taped body wrapped black sheer material on McGee Hunt Club property east of Otter Creek where it was found by hunters on Jan. 18.
Although earlier reports said Stires was reported missing on Jan. 1, she was originally reported missing on Dec. 23 to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. In the time in between she was partying and using drugs with Boutin, his girlfriend Crystal Brinson and other people, including man who told investigators Boutin asked for his help in finding a location to dump Stires' body. Stires had been with the man but she left with Boutin and Brinson after the man found out she had stolen his meth supply.
The man said Boutin and Brison came to his home on Dec. 26 and told a story of how Stires went crazy at Boutin's residence on Christmas night and had to be physically subdued by Brinson who injured Stires. He said Stires was given a "hot shot," in drug terms it is an injection of a drug that has poison or can kill a person.
The report says the couple offered to show the man Stires' body but he refused the offer.
Boutin would later tell officers that Stires was given an injection of morphine by Brinson after he accused Stires of stealing his meth and a meth pipe while the couple was out on an errand.
Boutin's neighbors told investigators that in the wee hours of Dec. 25- 26 they heard a female screaming and what sounded like a physical disturbance inside Boutin's trailer and that the screaming stopped abruptly and no more was heard until Boutin left in a dark blue Lincoln Continental at 6 a.m. Dec. 26.
Boutin told investigators he took Stires to a barn on his father's property in Brooksville where he gagged and tied her with duct tape before leaving. She was dead when he returned Boutin told investigators.
On Jan. 18 Citrus and Hernando investigators executed a search warrant at Boutin's home. They collected blood samples from a rear door and in several areas of Boutin's residence and in the Lincoln. It was confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab to be Stires' blood.
Also seized were a large amount of guns and ammunition from a safe, including a .38 caliber handgun with several long pieces of hair lodged in the front slide/barrel area.
In two interviews with investigators — on Jan. 18 and Jan. 20 — Boutin denied any involvement in Stires' disappearance and death, saying she disappeared from his home while he was out helping a friend. But the report notes there were problems with his stories.
Detectives picked up Boutin on Wednesday and during that interview "he explained that he finally wanted to tell the truth about what happened to victim Stires."
Boutin said it was Brinson who gave Stires the injection and later Stires became afraid of Brinson and began "flipping out." Boutin said Brinson hit Stires with his handgun. He said that the couple picked up Stires, put her in the rear seat of the car and went to his father's property in Brooksville. He said when they got there she was snoring and sweating profusely. He said they bound Stires' hands behind her back with duct tape, put a rag in her mouth and taped her mouth wrapping the tape around her head more than once
He said they went to the home of Connie Waller and when they returned to the barn, with Waller accompanying them, Stires was dead. "Boutin stated that they stood there for several minutes in silence until it was decided they needed to get rid of victim Stires' body."
Boutin said it was Waller's idea to dump Stires in a secluded place. Boutin and Brinson put the body in the trunk, drove to the man's home, and then drove around with it for two days after being unable to find the place the man recommended.
On Dec. 27, Boutin and Brinson returned to Waller's home because Brinson had to be in court that morning. He said Waller told him to drive north on U.S. Highway 19 until he crossed the barge canal and take an old logging trail to an area where he could dump the body.
Boutin told investigators he followed her directions and after driving an hour on 19 turned east on a cross road and into a public hunting area.
"At that time he dumped victim Stires' body in a wooded area where he knew she would be eventually discovered," according to the arrest report.
“It was extremely important to this agency and both the Hernando County and Levy County Sheriff’s Offices that we bring closure to the family of Ms. Stires,” Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said earlier today.
“No one should have to experience what they’ve gone through. This was a particularly heinous crime done to such a young woman. I’m extremely grateful to my staff who worked on this case around the clock to make an arrest. I also want to say thank you to Sheriff Nienhuis and Sheriff McCallum and their staffs for their dedication and commitment to Deanna Stires.”
Lt. Brad Smith, who oversees the major crimes unit, explained that other arrests may be made in the case. “We’re continuing our investigation,” Smith said. “As you can see by the arrest, this was a complicated situation that involved many different witnesses and locations. Bringing this case to a complete resolution continues to be a priority.”