Detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a Lecanto man whose body was found Tuesday morning in a mobile home after deputies pursued his stolen pickup truck and apprehended the driver.

At about 1 a.m., a deputy with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office tried to stop a truck near the intersection of State Road 200 and East Orchid Street, near Hernando, for having a broken headlight, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The driver failed to pull over and led the deputy on a brief pursuit into Marion County.

Deputies were able to track the vehicle’s tag to the address of 5281 W. Cardamon Place, Lecanto, where they entered the mobile home to do a well-being check on the homeowner, 73-year-old James Thomas Roman.

Roman was found dead with no signs of trauma, according to the sheriff’s office. Around the same time, Roman’s truck was stopped by Florida Highway Patrol in Marion County. 

The driver was arrested and taken into custody at the Marion County Jail on unrelated traffic charges.

As of Tuesday evening, detectives were still investigating Roman’s death. Those with any information are asked to call 911 and ask for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit.

Tipsters can also remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward by calling Citrus County Crime Stoppers at 1-888-269-8477.

Also early Tuesday morning in Marion County, FHP did apprehend and charge a Citrus Springs man, 32-year-old Christopher Eugene Smith, with fleeing from police and other driving violations.

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Lindsay Blair would not confirm if Smith was wanted for questioning in relation to Roman’s death.

At about 1:05 a.m., an FHP trooper was investigating an unrelated crash on S.R. 200, near the Citrus County Line, when he spotted a Nissan Frontier pickup truck, driven by Smith recklessly and traveling without headlights, according to an FHP release.

The trooper tried to pull over Smith; however, he fled northbound on S.R. 200 toward Ocala, entered the parking lot of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 3445 SW College Road, then fled on foot.

With the assistance of the Ocala Police Department, Smith was apprehended without incident at a nearby Home Depot parking lot. Authorities found Smith had 14 active suspensions of his driver’s license.

Smith was charged with fleeing and eluding, driving with a suspended license as a habitual felony offender, resisting without violence and reckless driving. He was transported to the Marion County Jail with bond set at $9,000.



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