TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Leon County grand jury has officially indicted a man for the murders of two women who were found beaten and strangled to death in Tallahassee.
Philip O. Ford, 54, has been formally indicted on two first degree murder charges by Leon County grand jurors on April 2.
Documents say both the bodies of both victims were found discarded near a wooded, swampy area and were both partially disrobed, with their shirts pushed up around their neck and their pants pulled down. Ford was connected to the murders through DNA evidence.
In court documents, investigators note Ford, a registered sex offender, has served prison sentences for two violent sexual offenses involving a child under 12 and he has also been arrested for hitting his girlfriend and attempting to strangle her.
Documents: DNA links suspect to two brutally murdered women in Tallahassee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Court documents reveal that DNA evidence led police to arrest a man for the murders of two women in Tallahassee.
Philip O'Neal Ford, 54, was charged in the murders of the women, one found Dec. 19, 2018, and the other on Jan. 26, 2019.
WARNING: This story contains details that may be considered too graphic for some readers.
Documents say both the bodies of both victims were found discarded near a wooded, swampy area and were both partially disrobed, with their shirts pushed up around their neck and their pants pulled down.
"Each of the victims is similar in height, weight, race and body type," investigators wrote. "Each died due to blunt force trauma to the face and manual strangulation."
Police obtained DNA profiles from both victims, and results indicated that the DNA profile came from the same man, according to a probable cause affidavit. The DNA profiles were submitted to CODIS by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and returned a positive match for Ford.
Investigators note Ford, a registered sex offender, has served prison sentences for two violent sexual offenses and he has also been arrested for hitting his girlfriend and attempting to strangle her.
Ford was stopped Monday by police while driving his vehicle and was transported to the Tallahassee Police Department headquarters for interview, the court document said.
Ford's vehicle was towed to TPD for processing. Police obtained search warrants for a cheek swab from Ford and the searching of his vehicle.
Before his vehicle was searched, police had two scent discrimination dogs try to determine whether the victims' scents were in Ford's vehicle. At least one victim's scent appeared to have been found in Ford's vehicle, the court document said.
During Ford's interview, investigators presented Ford a photograph of one victim. Ford said he knew her, hung out with her, had given her rides and had engaged in sex with her at a Tallahassee boarding house.
He said he first met the victim "many, many months ago," and hadn't seen the woman in a couple of months.
Investigators then showed Ford two photographs of the other victim. Documents say Ford denied ever knowing that victim.
When asked about his whereabouts on Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26, Ford provided inconsistent statements, the court document said.
Ultimately, documents say Ford claimed he worked until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. on Friday, stopped at a gas station near his house to buy beer, and then went home and fell asleep.
The court document said Ford said that on Saturday he awoke about 9 a.m., called a friend and drove to the H&R Block on Blair Stone Road. He claimed he was asleep at home during the time frame of the murder.
An investigator noted that "Ford had an apparent abrasion on the top of his right thumb."
Investigators say one of the victim's "fingernails were broken, which indicates she possibly attempted to defend herself from her attacker." They believe it is possible Ford sustained the injury from the victim's fingernails.
Based on the evidence, investigators found probable cause to charge Philip with two counts of premeditated murder.
Police: Two women brutally murdered in Tallahassee, suspect arrested
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Tallahassee Police Department has made an arrest in the brutal beating and strangling of two women in Tallahassee.
Police have arrested 54-year-old Phillip O. Ford for the recent murders of two women. He is being charged with two counts of first degree murder.
Police say they have been investigating the deaths of two victims. They victim was discovered on Dec. 19, 2018 in a field in the 1900 block of West Orange Avenue. The second victim was found on Jan. 26, 2019 at Magnolia Drive and Dantzler Drive. That victim has not been identified.
Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo announced Ford's arrest at a Monday evening press conference.
He said both victims were beaten and strangled to death before their bodies were discarded. Both were African-American women.
Few details were provided about the victims.
"They both did engage in some certain risky lifestyles that unfortunately, did create a higher element of risk to them than many other people in our community," DeLeo explained. "But that certainly does not justify his actions or the way that they were treated."
Due to the nature of Ford's actions, police are concerned about the potential of more victims, though DeLeo says they haven't connected any additional cases to Ford.
Right now, DeLeo says investigators are focusing on any missing persons reports from the last few years to see if there's any connection to Ford. Police are also reaching out to other agencies to see if they are investigating any similar cases.
They're also looking into where Ford may have recently traveled. Police don't know exactly how long he's been in Tallahassee, but they say Ford is a "drifter" with an extensive criminal history.
"These are two very significant cases and we have one perpetrator committing two acts like this over a period of time," DeLeo said. "We felt like it was very important, one to let the families of the victims and people who are close to them know there's resolution and also, there may be other people that are affected and involved, and it's important to get the information out to continue the momentum in this investigation for everyone."
Investigators are asking anyone that has recently come in contact with Ford and or his vehicle to please call them at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.