Phillip Stapleton appears inset, right, against an image of Ashley Voss and her two since-orphaned boys. (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office; GoFundMe)
A Florida man who allegedly plotted the conspiracy that killed the mother of his child late last month is now charged with killing a man in a different incident in the summer of 2021.
Phillip Stapleton, 32, stands accused of one count each of principal to murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree for the July 20 shooting death of Ashley Voss, 22, a mother of two young boys, Law&Crime previously reported.
Now, he stands accused of one count each of murder in the first degree and tampering with evidence, authorities announced Friday.
“Our dedicated detectives have displayed tireless determination in both of these investigations,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a recent press release. “This shameless killer thought he could get away with murder on multiple occasions. His cold-blooded crimes end now. While nothing can fully heal the damage he has caused, I pray these victims’ loved ones find comfort in knowing Stapleton will now have to answer for his actions.”
On June 12, 2021, sheriff’s deputies were called to the side of a road in Thonotosassa near County Road 579 and Joe Ebert Road. There, a man’s body was found, and an investigation ensued. Scant details, then or now, were shared about that case.
“The case was ruled a homicide, and detectives continued to follow up on leads over the last two years,” the HCSO said on Friday.
Citing “meticulous investigative efforts,” the sheriff’s office said Stapleton was the suspect in “two active homicide investigations.”
The defendant was initially considered a witness in the later-in-time and first-charged case involving the mother of his child, according to a criminal report affidavit obtained by Law&Crime.
The first man arrested in the case, Aurelio Diaz, Jr., 32, stands accused of one count of premeditated murder in the first degree and is alleged to be the triggerman. The victim died in front of her grandmother’s home on Orange Street in Seffner – a census-designated place and suburb of nearby Tampa. In the moments before she died, during a text message conversation with Stapleton – the father of her younger boy – Voss said she had decided to hang out in her car after work because it was “too comfortable” there, the affidavit alleges.
“Detectives noted the victim was sitting on her cellular phone, which was powered on,” the affidavit reads. “Detectives were able to access the phone and confirm numerous back-and-forth text messages.”
Stapleton, in a series of interviews with police immediately after the shooting, said Diaz shot and killed the mother of his child after only being instructed to “prank” her by defecating on her grandmother’s front doorstep, the affidavit says. Stapleton, then a witness against Diaz, admittedly drove Diaz to the neighborhood in question but claimed he had never discussed violence against Voss.
“[Stapleton] stated when he picked up the defendant they planned to go to the victim’s residence and for the defendant to defecate on the victim’s front porch,” the affidavit reads. “[Stapleton] pointed out the victim’s residence, and the defendant later exited the witness’ vehicle to defecate on the victim’s porch. [Stapleton] stated at no time did he talk to the defendant about killing the victim, shooting the victim, or harming the victim. They were only playing a ‘prank’ to have the defendant defecate on the victim’s porch.”
Law&Crime has repeatedly reached out to the HCSO for additional details on Stapleton’s alleged involvement in Voss’ death, but the agency has declined to share much additional information.
The Diaz affidavit, however, likely sheds some light on the criminal inquiry into, and charges against, Stapleton.
“Through the course of [an] interview with the victim’s family, it was learned that the victim’s child’s father, later identified as the witness, Phillip Stapleton, had threatened her in reference to an ongoing child support issue,” that law enforcement document reads.
According to the affidavit, Stapleton made a “controlled phone call” to Diaz that was recorded by law enforcement. At one point during the call, Diaz allegedly told Stapleton: “I did it just like I told you, walked up to the back window, and boom.”
But the victim’s family never bought the line about Stapleton’s self-professed lack of involvement in the shooting.
“There was no motive,” Rhonda Voss, the deceased’s grandmother, told Tampa Bay-based Fox affiliate WTVT. “Diaz did not know, actually her. Well, he knew her, but they were not close. You know, it’s not something where something could have happened, or something could have transpired that would have made him murder her.”
Ashley Voss was in Rhonda Voss’ driveway the night she died. Now, her grandmother is caring for the 22-month-old who just lost his mom. Voss’ maternal grandmother is taking care of the 4-year-old.
The victim’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help defray the cost of funeral expenses and to help provide for the children.
Diaz is being detained in the Hillsborough County Falkenburg Road Jail without bond. Stapleton briefly appeared in Pasco County booking records but was extradited to Hillsborough County.
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