BROOKSVILLE — Authorities arrested a 28-year-old Weeki Wachee man Saturday, charging him in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian struck while walking on Cortez Boulevard.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the victim, a 32-year-old Spring Hill man, was walking in an unknown direction on the roadway at approximately 12:10 a.m., June 6, when he was hit by a red 1995 Mazda MX-6. The vehicle, reportedly driven by Joseph Charles Strickland of Weeki Wachee, was traveling westbound on Cortez Boulevard approaching the intersection of Steuben Street.
The reports states that the vehicle collided with the pedestrian and traveled with the remains of the victim to the rear of the Dixie Lee Bait shop, located nearby at 6408 Evanston Street in Spring Hill.
Reports state Strickland then removed the victim's remains from the vehicle before summoning several friends and a roommate to push the now disabled vehicle back to his residence at 6494 Evanston Street. Strickland told his friends and roommate he had struck a deer, reports state.
Once at home, roughly 1,000 feet down Evanston Street from Dixie Lee Bait shop, Strickland is said to have spray painted damaged portions of the vehicle, showered, and went to sleep.
In the morning, around 8 a.m., FHP troopers reported that Strickland's roommate revisited the vehicle and surmised the damage was not from an impact with a deer and contacted law enforcement. This coincided with the discovery of a human leg along the shoulder of Cortez Boulevard, west of U.S. Highway 19.
FHP troopers arrived at Strickland's home and located the vehicle with severe damage. Hernando County Sheriff's Office deputies and a Pasco County Sheriff's Office cadaver dog assisted FHP troopers in searching for the victim's body, which was located behind the Dixie Lee Bait shop.
Law enforcement learned that Strickland also had a Minnesota warrant for his arrest for bodily harm gross negligence felony criminal vehicle operation and troopers entered the suspect's home to arrest him. Strickland attempted to flee via the rear of the residence, reports state, but encountered deputies staged at the rear of the home. Deputies detained Strickland and FHP troopers arrested him for having the outstanding Minnesota warrant and charged him with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death, tampering with evidence, driving without a valid driver's license and not having insurance.