Richard and Karla Van Dusen
Summary of Offense:
The bodies of Richard and Karla Van Dusen were found on a dirt road in Hillsborough County on the morning of November 26, 2003. They both died of gunshot wounds to the head. Karla was also stabbed twice in the chest. The couple’s Jeep Cherokee was discovered in a parking lot approximately one mile away. DNA tests confirmed that the blood found on the vehicle’s steering wheel matched that of William Deparvine. In November of 2003, Richard Van Dusen began advertising his 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne pickup truck for sale for $13,700. On November 25, 2003 Richard Van Dusen received a call on one of his two cell phones at 5:45 p.m. near downtown St. Petersburg, where Deparvine resided. He then made two calls on one cell phone at 5:50 and 5:55 p.m. that used the downtown St. Petersburg cell tower. Karla Van Dusen’s cell phone indicated that she began a call at 5:33 p.m. within a mile of the cell tower on Tierra Verde, and her next two calls used cell towers in downtown St. Petersburg. Karla’s last phone call on November 25th also used a cell tower in Oldsmar. One of Karla’s phone calls during this time was to her mother, Billie Ferris.
Ms. Ferris testified that, while speaking with her daughter, she heard a car engine and asked Karla if she was in a car. Karla responded that she was “following Rick and the guy that bought the truck. He knows where to get the paperwork done.” Karla informed her mother that the purchaser was going to pay with cash. Chris Coviello, testified that he saw the Van Dusens leave their home on November 25, 2003 at approximately 5:45 p.m. Richard was driving the truck and Karla was following in the Jeep Cherokee. There were no other passengers in either vehicle. The Chevrolet Cheyenne truck was found on November 27, 2003. It was parked outside of Deparvine’s apartment complex. Deparvine had in his possession a signed bill of sale indicating a purchase price of $6,500. On November 25, 2003, Richard Van Dusen had his signature on the bill of sale notarized. Van Dusen’s co-worker, Peter Wilson, said that Van Dusen told him he was selling the vehicle for $13,000 but indicated $6,500 on the bill of sale so the buyer would pay less sales tax. Deparvine testified that he obtained the money to buy the truck by selling a Rolex watch that a terminally ill inmate gave to him while he was incarcerated.
He said that he sold the watch for $7,000 in cash and stored the cash in his apartment. He also testified that during the test drive on November 23, 2003, the truck ran out of gas. He stated that he cut his hand while pouring gas on the carburetor, and then got into Van Dusen’s Jeep Cherokee and followed Van Dusen as he drove the Chevrolet truck to the gas station. He then offered to buy the truck for $6,500 cash, and gave Richard Van Dusen $1,500 as a deposit. He said that Richard Van Dusen agreed to the half-price offer because he was paying in cash. He said that the Van Dusens dropped off the truck at his apartment at approximately 5:30 p.m. on November 25, 2003. He said that another man in a red truck followed the Van Dusens and then gave Richard Van Dusen a ride afterward.
Deparvine was sentenced to death in Hillsborough County on January 9, 2006.