Police in Florida are searching for ailing ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry, who disappeared from his Zephyrhills home under suspicious, and possibly ghastly, circumstances.
His van was found Sunday abandoned in a motel parking lot. Nearby, FOX 13 reports, was a man's severed arm. More remains were discovered at a gas-station dumpster two miles away from Perry's home, which had been ransacked.
On Friday authorities arrested Perry's two roommates, Roxanne D. Davis, 49, and James W. Davis, 46, who had been missing since Sunday. The St. Petersburg Times reports that James Davis is charged with trafficking of controlled substances, possession of paraphernalia, possession of controlled substances and two warrants for failure to appear in court. Roxanne Davis is charged with violation of parole, grand theft and burglary.
Police have avoided publicly referring to the case as a homicide investigation, but signs obviously point to that. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement told The Tampa Tribune the agency had been called in to assist with an apparent homicide, but wouldn't say whether it was related to the missing persons investigation. However, Zephyrhills Mayor Cliff McDuffie said, "I assume it is the same investigation. I assume it is a homicide."
Perry, 56, is best known for his work on the mid-1980s animated series ThunderCats and SilverHawks, both developed by Rankin/Bass. However, he also wrote comics like Timespirits and Psi-Force for Marvel and Wally Wood's THUNDER Agents for Deluxe.
His struggles with bladder cancer and dwindling finances were publicized in recent months by the likes of Steve Bissette and the Hero Initiative, an organization that he credited with saving his "very life with its good will, generosity and kindness."
"They allowed me to seek some medical help and enabled me and my son to put a roof over our heads -- I was homeless with that little boy in my van last year," Perry wrote in mid-March on the charity's blog. "The Initiative gave me the breathing room to get some Medicaid and food stamps, and while we are always in danger of losing our home, electricity and belongings at any moment, I will always be grateful from the depths of my heart for the past six months of fairly solid home life I have had with my little boy."
Perry talked more about Hero Initiative in a video posted just last week at Comic Book Resources.
Update: The St. Petersburg Times reports that Pasco County court records show Perry and his 5-year-old son Leo filed for a protective order against a woman late last month. However, the request was dismissed when Perry didn't appear at a hearing on May 13, three days before the discovery of his abandoned van and ransacked house.
According to Zephyrhills police Capt. Robert McKinney, Leo is safe and with his mother. McKinney also acknowledged that Roxanne Davis and James Davis are people of interest in a "possible homicide."
Update 2: Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin told Robot 6 that the organization had been in contact with local police, who at the time were treating this as a missing persons case. "Certainly, we hope for the best," McLauchlin said.
Over the past eight months, Hero Initiative had assisted Perry by paying rent, utilities and medical bills. The charity also helped with medical referrals, lined up some paying work and brought him to MegaCon in March so he could reconnect with the comics industry.
Update 3: Steve Bissette writes about the life and career of his friend Stephen Perry.
Update 4 (May 23): An interview in today's St. Petersburg Times with Krystal Carroll, Perry's ex-girlfriend and Leo's mother, all but confirms the writer's fate: "Saturday, Carroll talked of Perry in the past tense. She would not say what detectives told her, as she doesn't want to hurt the case. But she did say her son 'knows that Daddy is in heaven'."