JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A slain Jacksonville Navy commander’s estranged wife, her boyfriend and that man’s best friend have been charged in his February strangulation in an Orange Park motel in a failed plot she masterminded to steal more than $1 million in life insurance money, police said Tuesday.
The arrests come nearly six months after the slaying of Cmdr. Alphonso Mortimer Doss, 44, who was found dead Feb. 12 in his room at the Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue off U.S. 17 near Interstate 295.
Tom Allen, the victim’s father, said the lead Orange Park detective called him Tuesday morning to say that his late son’s wife, Yolinda, her boyfriend, Anthony D. Washington, and Washington's pal, Ronnie R. Wilson II, were charged in the case.
Police at a mid-afternoon news conference confirmed that Yolinda H. Doss, 44, Wilson, 33, and Washington, 29, were charged with second-degree murder and assault and battery during a burglary. Yolinda Doss met with police Monday night and the arrests followed.
The suspects — Doss and Wilson lived together in Orange Park while the boyfriend Washington lived in Jacksonville — are in the Clay County jail without bail. They are set to appear in court Wednesday.
Orange Park Police Chief Gary Goble said Tuesday that Washington strangled Doss by hand in what was a staged burglary. The plan had been to kill Doss and collect money from at least one life insurance policy, but no money was paid, Goble said.
Goble said Doss' wife served as a lookout from a parking lot for the two men, who entered her husband's room using a key provided by her and then waited for Doss to arrive. A struggle preceded Doss' death, police said.
Doss, who knew both men, had been living at the motel after separating from his wife months earlier while struggling with alcohol and other problems. The decorated veteran, who served in the Navy since 1987, was temporarily stationed in Jacksonville at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit.
Allen said he last spoke with his son three weeks before his death when he revealed he’d been undergoing treatment for substance abuse. He said his son intended to reunite with his wife of 22 years, whom Allen knew as Denise, and their daughter after retiring.
Allen said he and his family were especially saddened for his 16-year-old granddaughter, Alexis, who lost her father and now is learning her mother is charged in the case. He praised the police for their work during the investigation, which police officials said remained a high priority as weeks of clue searching turned into months.
“We are all broken-hearted,” Allen said in a telephone interview. “We’ve got to sort it out.”
The case was led by city police detective C. Monroe with assistance from the Sheriff’s Office and Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Goble and Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler praised all involved for tying the clues together.
Goble first publicized the slaying two weeks after it occurred, saying he had no reason to immediately contact the media, as occurs in most homicide cases, until a reporter inquired about the death. He said Tuesday that the wife and two men were suspects very early in the investigation.
Allen said he maintained his confidence in the investigators, though as the case dragged on he expressed his concern that the killing remained unsolved. But he said the lead detective called him routinely with updates and he’d been told that police needed to verify physical evidence before moving forward.
“I appreciate the job they’ve done,” Allen said.
Doss’ wife had not been available to comment for previous stories. The couple’s Baymeadows home was foreclosed on before his death. A nearby storefront where she ran a gift shop was empty three months after his death, though it’s unclear how long the business had been closed.