Leo Lancing Boatman (1 Viewer)


Leo Lancing Boatman

Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Described by the Marion County sheriff as a "would-be serial killer"
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: January 4 , 2006 / August 18, 2010
Date of birth: 1986
Victims profile: Amber Peck and John Parker, both 26 (campers) / Rick A. Morris, 28 (his cellmate)
Method of murder: Shooting (AK-47 assault rifle) / Beating
Location: Marion County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on July 30, 2007

Boatman to face charge of killing cellmate

January 21, 2011

OCALA — Authorities plan to charge Leo Boatman with the beating death of his former cellmate at Charlotte Correctional Institution, the Charlotte County State Attorney's Office confirmed Friday.

Boatman, 24, is currently serving two life sentences for fatally shooting Santa Fe College students Amber Peck and John Parker with an AK-47 in Ocala National Forest in January 2006.

He was sentenced in Marion County after pleading guilty to his charges.

The Largo native had been housed at the Charlotte C.I., located in Punta Gorda, with Rick A. Morris, a 28-year-old Panama City man who also was serving a life sentence for the murder of his parents.

Last September, the Florida Department of Corrections disclosed that Boatman had been in an altercation with Morris on Aug. 18, 2010.

According to Morris' aunt, Cindy Morris, the victim had been on life support for a month after suffering severe brain damage.

"I don't even understand how these two people got into the cell together," Morris said to the Star-Banner Friday. "They both got mental illness."

Rick Morris is now buried beside his parents.

Boatman, who was born in a Florida mental institution, was transferred to Florida State Prison in Starke after the incident.

He is scheduled to be brought to Charlotte County on Feb. 14 for his first appearance hearing. That is also the date he will be served with a warrant, said Samantha Syoen, public information officer for the Charlotte County State Attorney's Office. He is expected to be charged with second-degree murder.

Syoen said Florida DOC officials had presented the warrant to the State Attorney's Office on Jan. 7.

"Since [Boatman] is already in prison for life, he will have to be transported here for his first appearance," she said Friday.

Florida DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Friday an administrative investigation into the fatal beating is still in progress by prison officials.

Cindy Morris questioned the decisions that had been made leading to her nephew's release from a six-month stay in a mental institution.

It was following his return home that he fatally shot her brother and sister-in-law.

"Who even evaluated him to go to prison? He should have been in a mental institution all his life," Morris said Friday. "He would either kill somebody, or somebody would kill him."

Boatman Pleads Guilty To Ocala Slayings

July 30, 2007

A man accused of killing two college students from Gainesville entered a guilty plea in court on Monday morning.

Leo Boatman, 21, was accused of killing Amber Peck and John Parker, both 26, in January 2006 in the Ocala National Forest, WESH 2 News reported.

Peck and Parker were camping at Juniper Springs when they were slain.

Boatman, the execution-style shooter of Peck and Parker, later told detectives he'd gone deep in the forest for one reason: to kill someone for no other reason than sport.

Boatman had faced two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths, but officials said he changed his plea to avoid the death penalty.

"There's nothing I can say that justifies what I did. And I can't offer an explanation because there is none. All I can offer is my sincere apologies," Boatman said.

Boatman will now spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"When things like this happen, the person who commits the crime becomes the celebrity and the ones who die and are left behind are forgotten about," said Vicky Parker, mother of victim John Parker.

"I can't understand first of all, why somebody would look at her and take her life," said David Peck, father of victim Amber Peck.

Disaster averted

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

OCALA, Fla. (AP) - Marion County Jail guards are investigating how an inmate got a piece a metal he used to craft a knife.

Leo Boatman of Largo told another inmate that he was planning to kill deputies and guards if he got the death penalty in a case where he is accused of killing two college students at a national park.

Authorities took the shank on Aug. 21 after an inmate alerted them.

Boatman made a handle of mashed toilet paper and dried-up toothpaste to hold the six- or seven-inch blade. Authorities believe he got the piece of metal from a filing cabinet.

In February, Boatman got a hold of disposable razors and attempted suicide twice, but his injuries were not life-threatening.

A grand jury indicted Boatman on two counts of first-degree murder in January in the slayings of Amber Peck and John Parker, both 26 and Santa Fe Community College students.

Boatman complains of jail treatment

March 11, 2006

OCALA - The man charged with killing two campers in the Ocala National Forest is growling about what he calls being chained "up like a dog" at the Marion County Jail.

In a letter addressed to the Star-Banner, Leo Lance Boatman, 19, refers to being chained by all fours in the Marion County Jail as "torture" and compares himself to a prisoner in Iraq.

"I would rather be sentenced to death that than be chained up like a dog for the rest of my life, forced to eat like one with my hands and wear a woman's dress," he states in the letter dated Feb. 23.

Maj. Paul Laxton, bureau chief of the jail, said Wednesday that Boatman was taken from the "four pointed" position on his bed before the letter was written, although he still remained chained by the belly and legs.

Last week Boatman was moved from the chained bed, which sat in front of a corrections officer's desk, to a cell where he is being monitored by a surveillance camera.

"We're still keeping a watch on him," said Maj. Paul Laxton, bureau chief of the jail.

Boatman, of Largo, was arrested Jan. 4 on charges of murdering two Sante Fe College students. He was placed in a "bubble" - an enclosed glass area where guards could see the high-risk inmate at all times - after he tried to commit suicide on Feb. 11 by cutting his right wrist and mouth with a contraband razor.

As a result, he was "four-pointed" - with each ankle and wrist chained to the bed in an open area of the jail, although he was let up from time to time to exercise, officials said.

Capt. Jerry Craig, said an inmate with Boatman's history of suicide attempts and facing his type of charges and punishment, had to be treated differently and restrained. Craig added Boatman would try to do anything to get out of jail, whether through an attempt at escape or death.

"We're not going to give him an opportunity to roam free and build friendships with people to try and escape," Craig said.

Boatman did state in the letter that "Death row is starting to sound better than staying here."

Boatman received 12 staples to his arm to close up the wound from the razor blade. Laxton added the restrictive position also helped prevent Boatman from pulling out the staples as well as using them as a weapon.

Boatman was made to wear a suicide gown that was made out of quilted pieces of fabric, making it difficult for him to rip off pieces and make nooses.

"We wanted to prevent him from hurting himself or anyone else," Craig said.

He now wears a red jump suit.

Boatman is accused of shooting and killing students Amber Peck and John Parker, both 26, with an assault rifle. Their bodies were found by family members on Jan. 7 near Hidden Pond in the Juniper Springs Wilderness area of the Ocala National Forest.

Sheriff Ed Dean called the killing senseless and had labeled Boatman as a possible "serial killer." Detectives are trying to see if he is linked to other killings.

In the letter, Boatman said he had been placed on suicide watch against his will and that "head doctors" told him he was no harm to himself - before and after the suicide attempt.

He also complained that a padlock that's chained in the middle of his back prevented him from sleeping at night.

"In Iraq, we made a big stink about inmates who were put on dog leashes," stated Boatman, referring to the Abu Ghraib prison. "Well we do it in our own country because they do it to me."

High risk inmates like Boatman are not allowed to receive razor blades. Laxton said a barber is usually brought in when inmates like Boatman require a shave, such as for a court appearance. After Boatman was able to get the contraband razor from another inmate, policies for issuing blades were changed.

Boatman stated in his letter "the higher ups are creating tension between me and inmates who I would otherwise have no problem with," adding "Because of me they say the other inmates can't shave or have regular rotations."

Boatman added in his letter that his being chained to a bed left him open to attacks from prisoners who wanted to retaliate.

Laxton said Wednesday not only was there limited freedom for inmates to roam near Boatman's bed, but a corrections officer was always at the desk behind the bed.

Craig said aside from the suicide attempt he does not consider Boatman to be a problem inmate. Officials added Boatman does often try to strike up conversations with other high-risk inmates as well as high ranking officers.

"Every time he sees me, he lights up," Capt. Craig said.

Craig added Boatman regularly tries to prove how intelligent he is and boasts how he's read every book in the library.

"He has bragged about reading a 650-page book in about four hours," Craig said.

Boatman states in his letter that the media has painted the wrong picture of him. He refused an interview with the Star-Banner on Wednesday. And although he confessed to the murders, according to detectives with the Sheriff's Office, he complained in the letter that everyone is already treating him as guilty.

Laxton did say the jail screens Boatman's visitor list but he has received visitors, including a family member.

Boatman's letter to The Star-Banner

My name is Leo Boatman and I am an inmate in the Marion County Jail. Since being here I have been denied the rights and privileges of the other inmates. Against my will I have been placed on suicide precaution even though the head doctor cleared me the jail has kept me on. Twice I have seen doctors with years of experience that think I should not be on S.P. and that I am no harm to myself. This was before and after my recent incident. For the past two weeks I have been chained to the bed in the middle of a dorm. Four of which I spent four pointed to a bed. I offered no resistance.

They won't allow me to call my family or use the law library which is very important because of the seriousness of my case. And for some strange reason my friends and family have denied getting any of the letters I've wrote them. I eat and sleep in chains. At night I lay awake because of a padlock that is chained in the middle of my back. I'm constantly in a belly chain which my hands are also chained to. My leg is chained to a bed and I have less room to move around than a dog who is chained up in its own back yard. If I placed someone on a dog leash it would be a civil rights violation, yet there is no difference.

In Iraq we made a big stink about inmates who were put on dog leashes. Well we do it in our own country because they do it to me. They say its for my safety yet they place me with the jails' most violent offenders with no way to protect myself if someone wants to attack me because of my restraints. The higher ups are creating tension between me and inmates who I would otherwise have no problem with.

Because of me they say the other inmates can not shave of have regular rotations. The only explanation I can think of is they must want to provoke into attacking me while I am strapped up and defenseless. Why they want to do this would be reasons for anywhere to personal feelings about my case to retaliation for the recent incident. All I know is even the guard who works with me on a daily basis see no reason for my status but can do nothing because of the higher ups who normally don't get involved with the one on one dealings with inmates but have seen fit to be the only ones who make the decisions regarding me.

The jail might say its for my safety but I'm not trying to harm myself even though I have plenty of opportunities. They justified the restraints by saying they had to protect the staples in my arm, yet they were removed two days ago and still nothing changed. Some people say this is what I deserve but let me remind you I have yet to be found guilty of anything even if the media painted a different story. Should we change the justice system to punish people before being found guilty? What happened to innocent until being found guilty, and since when is the sheriff my judge and allowed to sentence me?

Shoot we should just cut the courts out of the whole thing and allow the majors and up to decide what to do with people. It's already obvious to me I have been found guilty so instead of drawing out the torture why don't you just send me to death row and get it over with. Death row is starting to sound better than here and I would be willing to get there if it's my only other option than staying here. Hopefully this letter will reach you. I've made copies and somehow you will get one. If conditions stay the same I realize I will not get a fair trail an will just request the State Attorney does he's planning. I would rather be sentenced to death than be chained up like a dog for the rest of my life, forced to eat like one with my hands and wear a womans' dress.

Leo Boatman
Marion County Jail

Police: Boatman tried to get rid of gun

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

OCALA - The man charged in the slayings of two college students tried to get the stolen murder weapon back to the owner as soon as he got back home from the Ocala National Forest on Jan. 5, according to investigators' reports.

Leo Boatman, 19, also tried to sell the AK-47 before the slayings, friends told investigators.

Boatman, 19, and his uncle Victor Boatman, 38, had been holding the unloaded AK-47 high-powered rifle for their friend Lucas Merryfield when Leo ran off with it to the Ocala National Forest on Jan. 3 - the same day Amber Marie Peck and John Parker went camping there, according to Marion County's sheriff's reports released Tuesday.

Victor Boatman told detectives the next time he saw Leo or the assault rifle was on Jan. 5.

Victor told officials Leo walked into the mobile home the two were sharing with a "foul body odor" and shouted "I've got Luke's gun, tell him to come get it," before pulling out the rifle with a loaded magazine.

Merryfield picked up the semi-automatic assault rifle from the pair's home the next day, the same day Leo Boatman put a .22-caliber rifle with a scope on layaway, according to detectives.

Parker and Peck, both 26, were two Santa Fe Community College students and members of a school environmental club. They were spending an overnight camping trip Jan. 3 near Hidden Pond in the forest when they turned up missing. Family members discovered their bodies laying on the edge of the pond on Jan. 7, that Saturday morning.

Investigators received a tip from motorist Joey Tierney that Saturday night, that he picked up a man near the murder scene on Jan. 4 carrying a blue nylon bag and gave him a ride to a convenience store and a motel. He told officials the hitchhiker told him he had a gun in the bag, but he didn't see it.

Tierney's tip led detectives to Leo Boatman.

According to the investigation reports, however, the tip almost didn't pan out because of a pellet gun Leo Boatman tried to push off on detectives as the rifle he had with him during his ride with Tierney.

Law enforcement officials' first interview with Leo Boatman was about 8:20 a.m. on Jan. 9 at his mobile home in Largo. Boatman showed investigators the blue nylon bag containing the pellet gun while he chatted freely about his activities in the days surrounding the murders.

He said he went to the forest on a camping trip to relax. He told investigators he took marijuana with him.

According to the investigative report, officials had initially believed the tip from Tierney "was of no value" after seeing the pellet gun. But then word came from a detective that had been visiting Leo's sister, Rosezilla Boatman, in Clearwater. Leo had been accused recently of stealing an AK-47 from Merryfield, Rosezilla Boatman told investigators.

Detectives immediately transported Leo and Victor to the Largo Police Department.

Leo kept talking at the station, then started to clam up after law enforcement officials told him they had evidence he had been in possession of an AK-47. Leo had actually purchased the pellet gun after he came back from the camping trip, detectives learned.

Leo was then charged with stealing the AK-47 and placed in the Pinellas County Jail. Officials then tied the weapon to the murder through ballistics tests.

Murder charges were filed against him later that night in Marion County and he was picked up by officials here.

Reports also explain how crime scene technicians found several spent shell casings. These can be very valuable in linking a weapon to a crime scene, said Marion sheriff's Capt. Dennis Strow. They contain what technicians call highly individualized "tool marks," from the ejector and on the primer.

At about 5 p.m. on Jan. 10, the day law enforcement held a news conference to announce an arrest, the crime lab called to say: "That's the gun," Strow said.

Sheriff Ed Dean ordered that the family be briefed, as well as the officers who worked on the case, before the news conference.

"You've worked your butts off," they were told, "this is what we've got." By 7:30 p.m., the media were briefed, Strow said.

A few other interesting details were revealed in the incident reports. According to Victor, his nephew Leo dated a girl who worked at Hooters in Largo, where the suspect also worked as kitchen help. He also was dating a stripper.

Leo reportedly went fishing the day after he arrived back in Largo and put a .22 rifle on layaway.

Experts say too soon to label suspect a serial killer

January 12, 2006

At a Tuesday night news conference announcing the suspect's arrest, Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean described Leo Lancing Boatman as "a would-be serial killer. . . . who would have continued killing."

Boatman has been charged with shooting and killing two Santa Fe Community College students, Amber Marie Peck and John Parker, on Saturday in a remote section of the Ocala National Forest.

Experts in the field say it is too early to say whether the 19-year-old suspect, who traveled by bus from his home in Largo to the Ocala area last weekend, might fit the profile of a serial killer.

Ron Akers is a professor of criminology and sociology at the University of Florida. Reached by phone Tuesday, he declined to comment on specifics of the Ocala case, but said that as investigators learn more about Boatman's background, they may find events in his past that led him to apparently commit the violent acts against two total strangers that he has been charged with.

Psychologist Jack Apsche, who published "Probing the Mind of a Serial Killer" in 1993, notes that most serial killers have been white males in their late 20s or 30s, who target strangers near their homes or places of work.

"In terms of victim selection, 62 percent of the killers target strangers exclusively, and 71 percent operate in a specific location or area, rather than traveling wide distances to commit their crimes," Apsche said.

By the FBI's definition, a serial killer must have completed three separate murders, separated by a cooling-off period of a few days to a few years.

Akers said that after a true serial killer has been apprehended, investigators will often find certain common traits when looking into their background.

Virtually all serial killers have come from dysfunctional backgrounds involving sexual or physical abuse, drugs or alcoholism, experts say. They are isolated and often resentful toward a society that has shut them out.

"Serial murderers see themselves as dominant, controlling and powerful figures," Apsche said. "They hold the power of life and death, and in their own eyes, they perceive themselves as God."

Apsche is a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Apsche Center for Evidence-Based Psychotherapy and Forensic Services in Yardley, Pa.

In a Wednesday interview, Boatman's 38-year-old brother said that the alleged shooter has had psychiatric problems in the past. Vick Boatman shared a mobile home in Largo with his younger brother. He said 19-year-old Leo was supposed to be on medication but had stopped taking it.

"A serial killer is someone who usually kills strangers, although family members may be in their mix of victims. These are not crimes of passion, but planned-out attacks where they go out seeking victims," Akers said.

"It appears that this guy didn't know either victim, but went out on his own into the forest, knowing that he was going to target someone," he said.

As for tagging the case as a serial killing, Akers said it's too early to make the call.

"As with all profiling, everything is just a matter of averages and tendencies, and you always find exceptions or things that don't fit," he warned.

In the background of many true serial killers, there is a history of minor violence, aggressive or weird behavior, and access to guns, the UF professor said.

"But a whole bunch of people may have exactly those characteristics, and never do anything worse in their life," he said.

"Would-Be Serial Killer" Arrested In National Forest Murders

January 10, 2006

A man described by the Marion County sheriff as a "would-be serial killer" was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion he traveled to the Ocala National Forest looking for someone to kill and eventually shot two hikers in the area, according to a Local 6 News report.

The bodies of Amber Peck and John Parker were found by family members over the weekend just miles from where the campers had parked their car at the Ocala National Forest.

Leo Boatman, of Largo, was charged with two counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Peck and Parker, both 26, the Marion County Sheriff's Office said.

Investigators said Boatman took a bus from Largo, Fla., to a location near the Ocala National Forest with a stolen high-powered assault rifle in his possession, according to the report.

Boatman was apparently searching in the woods for someone to kill and stumbled upon Peck and Parker, police told Local 6 News.

"The killer is Leo Boatman," Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean said late Tuesday. "This killer in my opinion is a would-be serial killer."

Police said the break in the case came from Joe Tierney, 20, of Lake County who picked up Boatman after the slayings and said he dropped him off at a motel. Tierney said when he saw a news report about the missing hikers he called police.

"The devil was in my front seat," Tierney said.

After investigators talked with Tierney they tracked Boatman to a motel and then Largo, Fla., where they found a gun believed to have been used in the crime.

"He has to be put away forever and put on death row and that isn't even good enough for him," victim's mother Glenda Peck said.

Boatman was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail where he will face several charges.

Peck and Parker were students at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville.

Leo Lancing Boatman

Leo Lancing Boatman

Leo Lancing Boatman waits to go before judge Jim McCune before his first
appearance in the courtroom at the Marion County Jail in Ocala on January 11, 2006.
(Alan Youngblood/Star-Banner)

Leo Lancing Boatman, who is being held without bail, listens to Judge Jim McCune during his first appearance
in the courtroom at the Marion County Jail. Boatman is charged with killing Amber Peck and John Parker.
(Alan Youngblood/Star-Banner)

Under watch by Marion County Sheriff's Deputies Cpl. Carlos Rios, left, and Lt. Ron Burnett, center, Leo Boatman, of Largo, Fla., makes his first appearance before Judge Jim McCune in the courtroom at the Marion County Jail in Ocala, Fla.

Leo Lancing Boatman

Leo Boatman, center, takes the oath with his attorney Bill Miller beside him before he changes his plea to guilty Monday July 30, 2007 at the Marion County Courthouse in Ocala, FL for the Jan. 2006 murders of two Santa Fe in the Ocala national forest. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms on the Florida Department of Corrections.

Leo Boatman, flanked by his defense attorneys, Camille Concannon, left, and Bill Miller, right, stands for the judge during the hearing where he changed his plea to guilty Monday July 30, 2007 at the Marion County Courthouse in Ocala, FL for the Jan 2006 murders of students Amber Peck and John Parker in the Ocala national forest. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms on the Florida Department of Corrections.

Victor Boatman, Leo Boatman's uncle, talks outside his residence in Largo.
(Jannet Walsh/Star-Banner)

Lucas Merryfield, left, is the owner of the gun that was allegedly used by Leo Boatman to shoot
and kill Amber Peck and John Parker in the Ocala National Forest.
(Jannet Walsh/Star-Banner)

David Peck reads a statement to the Judge as if spoken by his slain daughter Amber Peck while his wife and Amber's mother Glenda Peck sobs during the hearing where Leo Boatman changed his plea to guilty at the Marion County Courthouse in Ocala, FL for the Jan 2006 murders of students Amber and friend John Parker in the Ocala national forest. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms on the Florida Department of Corrections.

The victims

Amber Peck, 26, was in the associate of arts program
at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla.

John Parker, also 26, was considering studying forestry
at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville.

Rick A. Morris, a 28-year-old Panama City man who was serving
a life sentence for the murder of his parents.

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