TAMPA, Fla. - The suspected Seminole Heights serial killer will be held in jail without bond until at least Tuesday, a Hillsborough County judge ruled Thursday morning.
Howell Donaldson III looked at little shell-shocked as he appeared before Judge Margaret Taylor.
"Mr. Donaldson, you are charged with four counts of first-degree murder, premeditated, and currently there is no bond on any of your counts," Judge Taylor told him via video conference.
Donaldson is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton. He was arrested on Tuesday after a tip led Tampa police to a McDonald’s in Ybor City where he was employed.
State Attorney Andrew Warren said during a Thursday morning press conference if the case meets the legal requirements and if the victims' families request it, his office could seek the death penalty against Donaldson.
"The death penalty is for the worst of the worst offenders in our society," Warren said following the first appearance, "and generally speaking a serial will qualify, but it is my duty to follow the law."
Warren said Tuesday's arrest is just the beginning of a long road ahead in the judicial process. While Donaldson was arrested on four counts of murder, he hasn't been formally charged until an indictment by the grand jury occurs.
"These are the initial steps in a long process," he said.
A hearing will be held on Tuesday morning to determine whether he should be held under pre-trial detention.