VALRICO, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Tuesday morning bank robbery in Valrico ended with a murder, Hillsborough deputies say. After hours of searching, the missing carjacking victim was found dead behind a church.
The suspect is a 39-year-old man with a lengthy history of violent crime, who deputies say was released early from jail about a month ago.
James Hanson was serving a life sentence, but was released on appeal after 16 years. His early release could have cost the life of an innocent man.
The scene unfolded Tuesday morning at the CenterState Bank in the Publix plaza along Highway 60 at Valrico Road. Deputies say an armed suspect robbed the bank, assaulted someone who tried to interfere, then carjacked a man -- later identified as 68-year-old Mathew Korattiyil -- at gunpoint in the parking lot.
An hour and a half after the carjacking, deputies spotted the stolen SUV and began pursuing it. They eventually used stop sticks and a PITT maneuver to roll the SUV onto its side. HCSO Colonel Donna Lusczynski said the suspect fled again, but after a foot chase of "quite some distance," James Hanson Jr. was arrested.
There was no sign of Korattiyil, though, and deputies hoped to hear from anyone who spotted the white 2019 Lexus SUV between the robbery at 10:43 a.m. and the chase, at 12:14 p.m.
"We're asking for the public's help. If they see him, assure him, he's not in any trouble. Our only goal is to make sure he's safe," Lusczynski continued. "Please help us find Mathew. If you saw that vehicle between 10:43 and 12:15, please let us know."
Just before 4 p.m., though, Lusczynski said Korattiyil's body had been found behind the Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Community Center on Washington Road, just a few minutes away from the carjacking scene.
Additional charges will be filed against Hanson, she said.
Investigators say Hanson was just released from prison in July after serving 15 years for robbery with a deadly weapon. Hanson has a lengthy criminal history including charges in Florida and North Carolina. His past crimes include burglary with assault, forgery, larceny, grand theft, trespassing, and robbery with a firearm.