BROOKSVILLE, FL – On August 19, 2020 at approximately 5:22 p.m., Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies and Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES) were dispatched to the 19000 block of Peyton Place in Brooksville regarding a Stabbing. The caller, a mail carrier, reported turning on to Peyton Place and seeing three children looking at a man who was lying in the grass. The mail carrier then heard screaming and a male voice say, “Help, I’m dying.”
The mail carrier approached the male victim and observed him to be bleeding profusely. The mail carrier called 9-1-1 and provided all the necessary information. Upon arrival, deputies began searching for the suspect, who was described as a white male wearing blue jean shorts and no shirt. A possible suspect was observed by witnesses fleeing the scene.
Patrol deputies and K-9 teams flooded the area in an attempt to locate the suspect. Corporal Steve Miller deployed his partner, K-9 Justice. Shortly after being deployed, K-9 Justice located the suspect hiding behind a residence on Sawdust Lane. The suspect, identified as James Dean Croft, 48, was placed into custody and transported to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office for interview. Croft refused to provide a statement to detectives.
A weapon was recovered on scene. The victim, identity withheld as per Marsy’s Law, was treated on scene by Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services before being flown to a local trauma center. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. Croft was charged with 3rd degree murder. He remains in the Hernando County Detention Center.
Hernando County state corrections records show nine previous arrests for Croft dating back to 2010 for crimes including intoxication, battery, stolen property, larceny, conditional release violations, burglary, criminal mischief and now homicide.