Divers searching Manatee River for possible murder weapon

It would not be the first time a murder weapon has been tossed off a bridge and into the Manatee River.

Less than an hour after Stephanie McNabb told police her long-time off-again, on-again boyfriend, Flozell Murrell III, had broken into her home and shot her three times in the chest in the early morning hours of Feb. 10, he returned to the home of another one of his victims to clean up, according to court documents.

Murell allegedly told the other woman that he had tossed the hooded jacket he was wearing into the Manatee River, removed the rest of his clothes, sprayed them with Febreeze and washed his hands with bleach.

After his arrest hours later, Murrell initially denied having shot and killed McNabb before asking for an attorney and refusing to answer any more questions.

But Murrell was identified by McNabb’s family, including one of the couple’s daughters.

On Tuesday morning, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team was searching the north side of the Manatee River under the DeSoto Bridge for the gun suspected of being used to shoot McNabb.

Murell has been charged with murder, committing a felony that could cause death, aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, armed burglary, kidnapping inflicting bodily harm or to terrorize victim and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is also facing domestic violence charges in another case for allegedly beating McNabb just eights days before her death.

He is currently being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.