Parents of a suspected serial killer, who murdered four people in the same small Tampa neighborhood, refuse to talk to investigators on Wednesday.
Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson challenged an investigation citation by refusing to answer questions about their son Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24.
They spoke only to confirm the names, addresses and dates of birth of the family members before refusing to cooperate more. The couple could be charged with contempt of court and could even face jail for ignoring the citation.
Investigators were waiting to learn the background and state of mind of Donaldson, who is the prime suspect in four murders in Seminole Heights, Florida.
Howell Jr. (right) and Rosita Donaldson (left) challenged an investigation citation by refusing to answer that about his son Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24
His son, Trai, 24, "Faces four counts of first-degree murder for the death of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton
& # 39; That's a rarity & # 39; state attorney Andrew Warren said at a press conference Wednesday, "Because most people understand that they have a duty to answer questions. And when that duty is explained to them by a judge, they are willing to give us answers.
One of the family's lawyers, Andrew Shafii, told Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon that the pair would not testify, reports TBO. .
The couple had previously announced that they were with their son, even after he was accused of multiple murders.
At the conference attended by the Tampa Bay Times, Emanuel said: "We are here to support our son through this & # 39;
Rosita told the assembled journalists: "I felt devastation for the families when it started, and I prayed for those families when it began and then, when they arrested my son, I felt the devastation because I love my son"
] In court, Rosita began talking about her family, saying that she and her husband have three children, including a daughter, aged 28, and another son, aged 13, and that Donaldson III had a good relationship with his extended family and two surviving grandparents
couple previously held a press conference where they said they were standing next to their son
He started talking about having the family for Thanksgiving when his lawyer interrupted him, reminding him that if he did not want to ablar, I had to tell the court.
& # 39; With all due respect, I will not answer more questions & # 39; said.
Ralph Fernandez, another lawyer for the family, said the couple did not want to answer any questions to avoid more pain.
& # 39; I think it's important to safeguard these truly significant family values in this time of tremendous family stress, "he said." In their distressed state, they are asked to testify against their child. … I hope to avoid further pain. "
But investigators say that interviewing the family is only a routine part of an investigation.
Warren said that as a father, he sympathized, but prosecutors were under an ethical obligation to exhaust all avenues of investigation to make sure we understand what happened in this case. "
Tomorrow a hearing will be held to decide whether Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson should be considered in contempt of court. They could face jail if they refuse to comply with the investigators, although Warren does not think it will come to that.
. The first attack occurred on October 9 when Benjamin Mitchell (left) was shot dead after getting off a bus in the neighborhood. Two days after Mitchell, 22, was shot, Monica Hoffa, (right) 32, was shot to death
. Parents will already be protected under Florida law that grants witnesses in an investigation of a state prosecutor & # 39; They use immunity, which means they can not be prosecuted based on their statements.
Meanwhile, his son Donaldson III faces four counts of first-degree murder for the death of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.
Donaldson III was arrested after police received a notice from a McDonald's staff member last week about a man with a gun and took him to interrogate him.
The murders began in October in the Seminole Height neighborhood of Tampa.
Speaking after last week's arrest, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said: "Fifty-one days ago I said it was a fight between good and evil.
Well, tonight the goodness has won. & # 39;
The police related the killings according to their methodology, which means that they were all killed in the same way, which is common for serial killers.Each of the four victims was murdered but not robbed while walking through the night within a half-mile area of the Seminole Heights neighborhood
Four people were killed by gunfire in the same neighborhood in just over a month
Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, in the photo on the left, spoke to the press about the murders
The victims, however, they do not have common similarities by race, age or occupation.
The first attack occurred on October 9 when Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was shot dead after getting off a bus in the neighborhood at night.
Two days after Mitchell shot, Monica Hoffa, 32, was shot to death.
And on October 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job.
Ronald Felton was the last of the four victims killed, and was shot on November 14.
Currently, Donaldson III is being held without bail.
His parents described his son as a young worker with many friends, reports ABC News.
His third son, attended college at the University of San Juan in New York City and, they say, planned to start a career in sports administration.
Police were searching for the suspect last month and released this recording of a person of interest. Donaldson III has been arrested since then
But his colleagues at the McDonalds where he worked in Ybor City described a much quieter and cold individual. But they were still surprised by the news that he had been arrested for the murders.
They said that they had even joked with him that he looked like the suspect seen in the CCTV images published by the police before the truth emerged.
"We used to joke and say he was the killer, because he looked like the images," Gail Rogers told the Tampa Bay Times.
& # 39; I called him the killer in his face. He did not like that. "
Rogers said that although she and her colleagues never thought Donaldson was the killer, he was an unusual man.
Donaldson (seen in his yearbook photo) was told by his friends as a policeman and smarter that for some reason he became aggressive after going to college in New York
& # 39; There was not a person kind, "he said. "We were all like a family, he was not like the rest of us."
But Donaldson's old friends and former classmates, who knew him as "Trai," said he had experienced strange changes in recent months.
As a child, his friends said he had grown up in a house that emphasized manners and courtesy, and that he had been nice and focused.
"My mother always praised him for his manners and sympathy, and she still says he was the nicest child you could possibly ask for," said Tyler Gimbert, who was a close friend of Donaldson's as children.  "[She] started crying on the phone when I told her, my dad too … It just does not make sense" # 19659002] Gimbert said she had not seen him since they were kids, but he remembered that it was & # 39; the brave one who once picked up snakes and threw them at his friends, initiating a & # 39; snake & # 39 ;. war.
Donaldson went to the University of St John in New York, where he played basketball as a guard.
His former teammate, guard Gerard Rivers, recalled that he was "productive" and that he was in college for academic achievement, rather than sport.
But Rivers did. he remembered as a bold personality unsuitable for his position on the court.
"He just had a mouth on him really," Rivers said. "Like [a walk-on] really, your role is to be humble and help where you can. , and that was not him. "
They said that Donaldson (pictured) was also very polite. But a friend who met him after going to college in New York said he had developed a short fuse and an 'edge'.
Sam Sealy, another player remembered him as "a tough guy" who played with a chip & # 39; on his shoulder. & # 39;
Donaldson was arrested once in New York, but his file was sealed; He then returned to Florida after six years in college, where he began to hang out with former elementary schoolmate Ryan Kenworth.
During Easter, Kenworth, Donaldson and his friends played basketball, but he said that when Donaldson committed a foul, he reacted in anger – unusual for the young man.
& # 39; Your attitude was different & # 39; said Keyworth. & # 39; It was something that was talked about among our closest group of friends & # 39;
& # 39; Something was happening & # 39; added. "I did not want to intrude because I thought if I wanted to talk, I would talk."
But his diction changed, he was more aggressive in the way he spoke, he had more than one advantage, he had a fuse. that this child was like that. & # 39;
Donaldson's unusual behavior continued until his arrest on November 28, when he gave his manager at McDonald's a paper bag containing what people say which was the murder weapon.
An improvised monument for victim Anthony Naiboa is seen upstairs on October 24
manager to hold the exchange while he was going to withdraw money, and told him not to look in. He also said that he planned to leave the state.
But the manager did look at him. , and seeing a gun, he told a Staff member who called a police officer who was doing paperwork at the restaurant. Donaldson was arrested that day.
In the state of Florida, that requires a grand jury to file a formal indictment, he said, and the deadline for that would be December 19.
But he added that he was looking to have Donaldson detained without bail for the duration of the test "for the safety of the public."
Warren was asked if he would see the death penalty in Donaldson's case.
He was reluctant to seek execution since he took office 11 months ago, after having removed him from a series of cases, and was not elected. in him here.
& # 39; The death penalty should be reserved for the worst of the worst in our society, and broadly speaking a serial killer would qualify, "he admitted.
But he said he would only look for it once all the evidence has been examined & see to see if there is a legal basis & # 39; to do it, and even then only if it is consistent with what the families of the victims want. & # 39;