COLUMBIA CO., Fla. (WCJB) — UPDATE (04/15/19):
Shortly after midnight on Monday, Columbia County Deputies arrested a third suspect, 28-year-old Cody James Bartosek, in connection to the murder of Steven McGee.
After receiving information from U.S. Marshals, CCSO responded to the Super 8 Motel on State Road 47 where Bartosek surrendered to deputies.
Bartosek was arrested on a warrant for murder, using a firearm to commit a felony, felon in possession of a firearm, tampering and destroying evidence, and mishandling of human remains.
He is being held in the Columbia County Detention Facility with no bond.
In a statement, Sheriff Mark Hunter said, “We are extremely grateful to the U.S Marshal Service for their continued assistance... Our community can breathe a collective sigh of relief as all the suspects are in custody and they will now face justice.”
Earlier today, Columbia County deputies arrested two people in connection to the murder of Steven McGee, the man who was found Monday morning dead along Old Spanish Road near Fort White.
They arrested Dashan Ricardo Lewis, 42 and Danielle Katherine Cianelli, 22 both of Lake City.
Lewis was charged with Premeditated First Degree Murder with Firearm Discharge, Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence, Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Storage, Transport of Human Remains, Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Short Barreled Shotgun.
Cianelli was charged with Accessory After the Fact to Premeditated First Degree Murder with Firearm Discharge, Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence, Possession of Controlled Substance, and Unlawful Storage, Transport of Human Remains.
Lewis and Cianelli are both in the Columbia County Detention Facility on no bond.
Deputies say a third person of interest has been identified by detectives and they are trying to locate and interview him.
Two arrests have been made in connection with the murder of 29-year-old Steven McGee-- whose body was found wrapped in a tarp and dumped on the side of the road near Fort White. However, the investigation isn't over yet.
It started as a regular walk for a Fort White couple and ended up as something much more.
Sergeant Murray Smith is the spokesman for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office who said, "some folks were taking a walk with their dog, a couple was and they discovered this tarp laying beside the road and were curious and checked on it and discovered the body."
TV20's Landon Harrar reported, "the body was found in a blue tarp just a few feet from the road but a few locals who drove past me a little earlier told me they don't think that's where the body was supposed to be dumped. They think it was supposed to be up here, up here being just about 50 feet away from where that body was found. Those same locals told me the sinkhole just further up the road is very well known by everybody in the area, and lots of people come to throw their trash. They were thinking this is where they were trying to throw the body but for some reason, they got stopped or maybe even scared and didn't finish the job."
Sheriff's investigators then began to create a timeline of who last saw McGee and found two suspects of interest. After obtaining a search warrant they arrested 42-year-old Dashan Lewis and 22-year-old Danielle Cianelli. Cianelli confessed to the crime in an interview with detectives shortly afterward.
Sergeant Smith said, "The suspects met the victim at a local store, then they brought him to Lewis's residence where depending on the stories we're getting one of them said there was an argument or an altercation and the suspect Lewis shot the victim."
Sergeant Smith says there is still one more suspect they are trying to find who could have been involved in the murder.
"This person in particular that we're talking about we do believe he has left this area, so there is no threat to our area however it would be in his best interest to turn himself in and get his side of the story out."
Detectives say Lewis is the one who shot McGee with a handgun multiple times. ________________________________________________________
Columbia County Deputies are asking anyone who has had any contact with Steven McGee between April 5th at 12:00pm to April 8th at 10:00am to contact their detectives at (386) 758-1095. _______________________________________________________
UPDATE: (04/10/19 6:45 PM)
The man whose body was found in Columbia County near Fort White Monday morning had recently been convicted on drug charges. 29-year-old Steven McGee was sentenced to four years probation by judge Leandra Johnson on April first.
Court records show McGee had a criminal history including a drug conviction and several burglaries and grand theft charges.
Investigators are calling the death a homicide but have not released a cause of death or made any arrests,
UPDATE: (04/09/19 2:27 PM)
Columbia County detectives have identified the victim as Steven McGee, 29. The victim’s last known address was in Branford, but he had connections to Columbia, Suwannee, and Gilchrist Counties.
According to deputies the investigation continues.
UPDATE: (04/08/2019 11:35 PM)
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is investigating a body that was found on the side of a road in Fort White.
What was just another afternoon for two Fort White residents who were walking their dog alongside a road close their home, they told me they could have never imagined that they would come across what they discovered to be a dead body.
"It was a hard thing to see."
Timothy Atkinson and his wife were walking their dog along Old Spanish Road near Fort White when they noticed something unusual in the woods.
"I could see that there was a tarp laying off to the side and as I got closer I could see that it was a new tarp, it appeared to have something bundled in it and also I saw a couple of bungees on it that were new bungees and all of this said this is not right, something is out of place here," stated Timothy Atkinson, resident who discovered the body.
Then Atkinson says his wife went over and touched it and discovered that it was human remains and contacted law enforcement.
"They call Suwannee County, Suwannee gets there and says well this is really close to the line, they check and it turns out that it's in our county and so they called us," stated Seargent Murray Smith, Columbia Co. Sheriff's Office spokesperson.
Suwannee County would secure the scene until Columbia County deputies arrived. The victim has been identified as a male in his late 20's.
"We have not positively identified him but we do believe that he is a local resident, we do believe that we know who he is but until we notify next of kin, we are not going to release that," stated Smith.
Deputies say there appeared to be trauma to the body and that they are treating this incident as a homicide. The body will be taken to the medical examiner's office in Jacksonville for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
"It's a very shocking thing to recognize what is apparently has happened here, somebody's been murdered and they bundled him up and thrown him off to the side of the road like they're unimportant," stated Atkinson.
The investigation remains active and ongoing. Deputies say incidents like this are rare for Columbia County and that they would like to think that there is no threat to the community.
Columbia County deputies are currently investigating the body of a man in his late 20's that was found lying in a wooded area off Old Spanish Rd near Fort White.
According to reports, deputies responded to the area at around noon after a citizen reported it. The citizen, who was taking a walk, found the body wrapped in a tarp and called Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office, who notified Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
The area where the body was found is near the county line between Suwannee and Columbia Counties. Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office assisted in this investigation by securing the scene until CCSO arrived.
The man has not been identified and he will be taken to the Medical Examiner’s office in Jacksonville for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.