When 69-year-old Mary Ring wasn’t seen around the neighborhood for several days, people started asking questions. Ring’s neighbor, Jameka Evans, said she was used to seeing “Miss Mary” bringing in groceries or passing out candy to the neighborhood children. Then two people moved in with her, began driving her car, and even moving her possession out of the home. “I thought they were taking care of her,” Evans said. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
When an anonymous caller expressed concern about “Miss Mary”, police went to the home to investigate. When they first visited the Clearwater home, no one came to the door. The next day, they received another call expressing worry over the woman’s wellbeing. When they went back to the home, they found her shot to death and charged her two new tenants with her murder. Lawrence Edward Cannon, age 42, is being charged with first-degree murder. Jennifer Elam, age 44, is also facing charges for accessory to first degree murder.
Officials say that Cannon shot and killed Mary Ring on February 5 and then spent two weeks hiding the body, while trying to decide the best way to dispose of her. John Elton Chantry, who used to rent a room from Ring, said she had numerous health problems. “She was sweet, but she was a mess.”
Chantry reportedly lived with Ring for five years. He not only rented a room from the elderly woman, but he also took care of her as she dealt with diabetes, bone problems, and muscle problems. “I’d take her to the store, go shopping with her, help her if she needed help getting to the bathroom,” Chantry said. “I did what I could.”
Chantry said he first met Ring through her daughter, Tracy, who passed away around five years ago. Chantry said Ring was a loveable person. “Everyone loved her, but she didn’t put with garbage,” he said with a laugh. “If she thought you were not being truthful, she let you know.”
While the details of Ring’s murder are still unknown, the family of her suspected killer did weigh in with some possible explanations. Cannon’s stepfather told officials that he had a serious addiction to pain pills. “I knew he had a little bit of a temper, but I never knew him to get into fights,” the stepfather said. “We hadn’t spoken in more than two years. I kicked him to the curb for stealing form me. Drugs got hold of him.”
When Cannon and Elam moved in with Ring, neighbors reported seeing them along with another man, often loitering outside the home drinking and smoking. Evans said they began to clutter the yard, tossing out Ringer’s possessions.
“This is a tragic situation for our community,” said wrongful death attorney Christopher Ligori of Tampa. “When an elderly woman cannot feel safe even in her own home, it’s time for our community to really examine the toll that illegal prescriptions drugs is taking on our city.”