Timothy "Tracey" Humphrey

I recently read the book, "Kill For Me" by M. William Phelps based on the murder of Sandra "Sandee" Rozzo.  I have seen several different shows referring to the case in the past but this was the first book I have read about the case.  I cannot say if there are more out there.  Per usual, or as often happens, this case then made it to my list to blog about, and as I often do, while reading the book I had done a cursory search of things.  One of the biggest things that jumped out at me was the fact that throughout Phelps' book he all but maintained that Sandra Rozzo did not have a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with Tracey Humphrey but that they were merely friends.  Upon researching this case, almost everything I read indicated differently.  Sandra was always referred to as the "ex girlfriend" of Tracey Humphrey.  What the true nature of their relationship was remains a mystery to me.

Before I go any further, in case anyone was wondering, I am using the spelling of Tracey with an e as opposed to Tracy because while there were many different articles and reference I found showing both spellings, I found "Tracey" to be used most often, including alias named in his prison record.  

On July 5, 2003 Sandra Rozzo had just pulled into her garage in Pinellas Park Florida after her shift at a local bar in which she was a bartender. It was nearing midnight. Sandra shared her home with Tony Ponicall (this is the name given in Phelps' book but I cannot confirm it is his actual name).  According to Phelps it seems that while they remained living together the relationship between Sandra, better known as Sandee, and Tony, while amicable was nearing the end of the romantic part.  Tony was asleep inside when he was awakened by what he would later determine were gunshots.  He ran out to the garage and found Sandee lying just outside her car covered in blood.  When the police and EMT's arrived Sandee was still breathing, although barely. She was taken to the hospital where she died a short time later. 

Investigators started looking in the usual places.  Of course Tony Ponicall was number one on their list of suspects.  Why wouldn't he be?  He lived with Sandee; the crime happened in the confines of their home; and they would soon learn that Sandee was talking of moving out.  Investigators talked to Tony and he was quick to name Timothy "Tracey" Humphrey as being likely responsible for the crime. Investigators felt that Tony was being very cooperative but they could not be sure that he was not giving out a name to divert suspicion from himself.  Most investigators felt in their gut that Tony was not involved but they needed to prove it.  Detectives soon discovered that it seemed everyone in Sandee's life had only one suspect in mind..... Tracey Humphrey.  In fact, Sandee herself had written down her own suspicions of what Tracey was capable and willing to do.  All of this suspicion could not be ignored.

Quickly investigators looked into the situation between Tracey Humphrey and his relationship to Sandee Rozzo and what they found not only proved everything they had heard, but they knew they were on to something.

Sandee and Tracey had met in November 2001 when they were both working at a bar together.  Tracey was the doorman while Sandee was one of the bartenders.  It seems they quickly became friends.  Some say that is all they ever were while others claim that while it was very short lived, it was more than that.  Regardless of where the relationship led, most agree that Sandee became fearful of Tracey and what she considered his outbursts fairly early on.  I have to say that from all I have read about Sandee, she was looking for something in someone and was quick to determine if someone fit the bill or not.  What I mean about this is she was looking to be happy, but not willing to settle so when she saw behaviors in Tracey that she did not like she decided first (if there was one) that there would no longer be a romantic relationship, but as she saw his reaction towards that also decided she needed to distance herself as much as possible from him completely.  Still, although apparently fearful she attempted to not just say, let him down easy, but do things in a manner in which she tried to be careful not to anger him either.  She had apparently seen a side of him, that whether she knew or not at the time, that many other women in Tracey's past had seen.  He did not take rejection well.  

In 1998 Tracey had been convicted on several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping.  He had been sentenced to five years in prison. I imagine prison is not a fun place obviously and rarely does anyone want to go back but Tracey was very vocal to just about everyone that he would do whatever it took to not go back again.  Then in February of 2002, while Sandee was still attempting to ward Tracey off the unthinkable happened.  He had showed up at her apartment and probably against her better judgement she had allowed him in.  For the next nearly 24 hours Tracey and Sandee remained in her apartment, at least that is what she would later claim.  She would say that while there Tracey had bound her, beat her and raped her.  Throughout the time Tracey repeatedly reminded her that he would not go back to jail no matter what.  He devised a plan to tell their employer that they had been in a car accident together, first to explain their absence at work, and later to explain Sandee's injuries.  It appears that in the early stages and for the first few days after the assault Sandee went with that but within the week she reported the incident to the police.

Sandee's next moves would be to move out of her apartment, to a location unknown to Tracey, as well as change her job.  While investigators were gathering information for the case, and preparing for a trial that was scheduled to begin August 4, 2003 Sandee was doing her best to move on and avoid Tracey Humphrey.  She had to have known she was not completely successful. In fact, one night a few months before her murder she had seen Tracey Humphrey in the very bar that she was now working at.  He had a young girl with him.  The two sat and stared her down their entire visit.  Many times while working she would be informed she had a phone call but when she got to the phone there was no one there.  Apparently in the beginning many bars in the area received these calls. There was an attempt made to find out where she worked, and it was eventually successful.

Of course, with her death, the trial that was to begin just a month later was cancelled and all charges were dropped against Tracey Humphrey.  He was free to continue on with his life.  This is why so many of Sandee's friends and family knew in their hearts that Tracey was behind Sandee's murder.  

Investigators pretty quickly determined that all of the suspicion against Tracey Humphrey was right on but knowing it and proving it would become a challenge. Of course within a day or two they were at the gym Humphrey worked at in Brandon Florida, some 35-40 minutes away from Sandee Rozzo's home talking to him.  For his part, Humphrey had moved out of the "bouncing" business and had become a personal trainer.  He had also gotten married, just the day before the murder to a pretty little 19 year old girl, Ashley.  Humphrey was 36. He assured the officers that he was not involved in Sandee's murder, but knew why they would consider him a suspect but beyond that he all but clammed up. Investigators obviously needed more, much, much more.  Next they would talk to Ashley Humphrey.  They already knew enough about Tracey to know that he was very controlling and Ashley was under his spell so they set it up in which they would approach Ashley at their home when they knew Tracey was not there, well at least not when they got there.  Ashley was asked about the night of Sandee's murder and would claim that she was home, with Tracey that night and their friend, Tobe White was also with them and could confirm their alibi. While the investigators were there Tracey had gotten word that they were at his house and left work, barging into the home.  The interview was quickly stopped and the detectives were informed to direct questions to their attorney.

Tobe White would become much more involved than she ever wanted to be. According to Phelps' book she had been very skeptical of Tracey Humphrey when she first met him but her fears seemed to diminish.  It appears that Tracey had a charm and a way about him that allowed women to push aside any bad vibes they felt towards him, well, if that is what Tracey wanted that is. At the time of Sandee Rozzo's murder Tobe had become friends with both Tracey and Ashley and in fact she and Tracey were discussing and in the process of starting their own gym and healthcare business. 

Almost immediately after detectives had been at the Humphrey apartment, both Tracey and Ashley met up with Tobe.  They wanted to make sure that when police interviewed her, which they were sure would happen, that she was on their side and collaborated their alibi just as Ashley had claimed to them.  In her first interview and statement to the police Tobe did just that.  By then however investigators knew that she was lying.  They informed Tobe not only could she get in deep, and desperate trouble for lying to cover up the crimes of Tracey and Ashley, but they told her much of what they knew at that point.

By the time that they made their way to Tobe, investigators had already determined many things and had talked to many people.  They had learned that Ashley's stepfather had given her a gun just weeks before the murder and she had never returned it.  They also learned that her stepfather was also fairly certain that it was Ashley who had stolen yet another gun from him.  The one that he had given to her was at her behest that Tracey wanted her to have one for protection.  The gun, a .22 caliber revolver, the same caliber used in the murder.  Investigators also knew that while Tracey's cell phone had in deed pinged on the tower near their home in Brandon, it was Ashley's phone that was determined to be in Pinellas Park at the time of the murder.  There had also been dozens of calls between the two during this period.  So when Tobe White went in and told her story for the first time to investigators, they knew she was lying.  They were determined to give her one more chance to cooperate and when she did Tracey and Ashley's alibi fell apart.

Still they did not have all they felt they needed.  In fact, while at this point they believed that Ashley had done the shooting, they had nothing to prove that Tracey knew about it prior to it happening or really to prove she had done anything.  Finally, on December 18, 2003, nearly five and a half months after the murder both Ashley and Tracey were arrested.  She was arrested on charges of first degree murder and he was arrested for a federal firearms violation pertaining to the gun in which Ashley had gotten from her stepfather.  This was all they had on them, and even still they had a lot to do to prove their case. The main reason they were finally arrested is because by now both Ashley and Tracey were convinced that Tobe White was helping the police, which she was, and they felt her life was in danger, which again, it likely was.

Ashley did not talk for quite some time.  Investigators pushed her hard and she clammed up.  She would claim that the night of the murder she had no idea where she was.  She would say she was simply driving around because she and Tracey had been arguing throughout the night.  She was sticking to her story, and sticking to it hard.  Then investigators decided to tell her more of what they knew.  They had spoken to several acquaintances and old girlfriends of Tracey's and had heard the same story over and over.  The women were mostly in fear of him as he had apparently assaulted many of them.  He had convinced at least one other woman to help him track down Sandee Rozzo and do some Internet searches on her.  The resounding thing the investigators heard from these people was that Tracey was adamant that he would not go back to jail and he would be happy to see something happen to Sandee.  Still, none of that really seemed to make a difference to Ashley.  However, most believe it was something else they told Ashley that infuriated her so much that she turned on Tracey as quickly as she could.  She had been informed by investigators that not only had Tracey claimed to be bi-sexual (something she says she did not know) but he had had an ongoing affair with a man that she knew and had lived with a man for several years in the past.  Strangely, it was this revelation that changed Ashley's tune and she began telling investigators everything they needed to know about the murder of Sandee Rozzo.

Ashley would claim that almost immediately after meeting Tracey in 2002 he had talked of Sandee.  According to Tracey, Sandee's allegations against him were false but he was sure to be convicted.  With his past record he was looking at a mandatory ten year sentence.  As Ashley fell more and more in love with Tracey he would use this to his advantage by telling her how Sandee was going to take him away from her.  Soon Tracey had a hold on Ashley that she could not break.  He convinced her that the only way to solve things was to kill Sandee and according to her, he made the plans.  Ashley stated that the first attempt on Sandee's life was on Memorial Day of 2003.  She said she had sat outside Sandee's work much of the day and when she exited the building Ashley, who was a distance away had aimed a rifle at her and shot.  The problem was that instead of simply missing Sandee or shooting the ground, she had shot out the mirror to her car.  Anyone that knew Ashley knew that her car was her pride and joy.  It was one of the first things she had bought herself as an adult and she loved that car.  But, due to the incident Ashley would claim that Tracey convinced her that they needed to torch the car and then file an insurance claim.  They did do this, but the insurance company never paid out because of the suspicious circumstances around the finding of the vehicle.  

According to Ashley, Tracey was so infuriated with her for not getting "the job done" that he would often threaten her that if she did not do it he would leave her anyway.  On July 5, 2003, one day after her marriage to Tracey, Ashley once again sat outside Sandee's job for hours waiting for her to emerge.  She had spoken to Tracey several time that day and she claims each time was full of encouraging her to finish the job or threats of what would happen if she did not. She claims that she actually fell asleep waiting and when she woke up Sandee had already nearly reached her car so she followed her.  When Sandee got home she pulled into her garage while Ashley parked out on the street.  Before the door could be closed Ashley had run inside the garage and approached the drivers side window.  She claims she tried to hit the window with the butt of the gun to break it but when that failed she simply shot through it.  She emptied all eight bullets in Sandee's direction as Sandee attempted to avoid them.  When it was done Ashley walked back to her car and called Tracey telling him she wanted pizza.  I am unsure why but there was a big deal made about what kind of pizza Ashley wanted but was told by Tracey it was too late because he had already ordered it.

For his part the pizza delivery was planned to be his solid alibi.  He had made strange instructions when ordering them to make sure the people remembered him and when it was delivered, he too acted in a way in which the delivery man would remember him.  Investigators claim this was all because he knew with the upcoming trial that he would be the number one suspect and he wanted people to say he had been home.  He was banking on Ashley keeping quiet, but he did not bank on what the investigators would say to her to make her talk.

Investigators promised Ashley a deal if she would testify against Tracey at his trial.  They gave her the option to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder, instead of 1st, and to receive 25 years.... taking the death penalty out of the equation. She agreed, although she had to follow through on her part before it would be official.  

Tracey Humphrey went on trial for the first degree murder of Sandra Rozzo in February of 2006.  The prosecution was seeking the death penalty.  Ashley did her part and told her story.  She had led investigators to where the gun had been buried and had eventually become fully cooperative.  Most say she did this because of her anger towards Tracey at that point and less about any remorse or guilt she felt.  Subsequent interviews that she has done on television programs have enhanced this feeling.  For his part Tracey would claim that on the night of the murder he had no idea what was going on and that Ashley had taken it upon herself to murder Sandra Rozzo.  He would say that the multiple calls between the two of them on the day, leading into the night, and just after the murder were pertaining to a fight they were having.  He had little recourse but to acknowledge that he had been made aware of Ashley's involvement after the act, but still refused knowing prior.  The jury deliberated for almost three hours before returning a guilty verdict. 

Next came the penalty phase.  The jury had a choice between life without parole and the death penalty.  In the end, after hearing all of the stories about how much Tracey Humphrey despised the thought of going back to prison, even for 10 years, they decided on life without parole.

The following month, after fulfilling her end of the deal Ashley was sentenced to 25 years in prison for her role.  Tracey was later sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison because while awaiting trial in April of 2004 he had escaped custody.  He had been captured rather quickly.  

Apparently in Florida "life means life" so there is no release date set for Tracey. It also appears that if the law did not already set it, Ashley is to serve every day of her 25 year sentence and unlike we hear so often, she is unable to get time shaved for "good time."  She is scheduled for release in December of 2028 when she will be in her mid 40's. 

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