Man arrested in death of girl found in woods

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Editor’s note: Some details of this story may be disturbing.

An arrest was made Thursday in the death of DeAnna Lee Stires, the young woman found in the woods east of Otter Creek on Jan. 18 by hunters.

Byron Lee Boutin, 50, of Homosassa was arrested Wednesday and charged with second degree murder and being a felon in possession of a .38 pistol, according to an arrest report on the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office website. Boutin is jailed with no bond on the murder charge. 

Boutin is accused of causing Stires’ death by injecting her with illegal narcotics and hitting her in the head with the handgun, then after carrying her body around in the trunk of his 1996 Lincoln for two days, of dumping the tied and duct-taped body wrapped in black sheer material on McGee Hunt Club property east of Otter Creek.

Boutin’s girlfriend Crystal Brinson, is also under arrest in the Hernando County Jail on charges unrelated to the case. She is charged with violation of probation and battery. She has no bond on the violation of probation charge. 

Stires, who was reported missing on Jan. 1, was originally reported missing on Saturday, Dec. 23 to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. 

During the holiday weekend she partied and used drugs with Boutin, his girlfriend Crystal Brinson and another man who told investigators Boutin asked for his help in finding a remote location to dump Stires’ body. 

Stires had been with the man but she left on Christmas Day with Boutin and Brinson after the man found out she had taken his meth supply.

The man said Boutin and Brinson returned to his home on Dec. 26 and said Stires went crazy at Boutin’s residence on Christmas night, tore it up and had to be physically subdued by Brinson. They said Stires was injured in the incident and was given a “hot shot” — a drug injection that can kill a person.

The report says the couple offered to show the man Stires’ body but he refused.

Boutin, who twice denied having anything to do with Stires’ death, would later tell officers that Stires was given an injection of morphine by Brinson after he also accused Stires of taking his meth and a meth pipe while the couple was out on an errand. After the shot Stires “flipped out” when the three were leaving his home and had to be subdued. 

Boutin’s neighbors told investigators that in the wee hours of Christmas night they heard a female screaming and what sounded like a physical disturbance inside Boutin’s trailer and that the screaming stopped abruptly. There was no more noise until Boutin left in a dark blue Lincoln Continental at 6 a.m. Dec. 26.

Boutin told investigators he took Stires to a barn on his father’s property in Brooksville and left her in a barn. She was dead when he returned, Boutin told investigators.

On Jan. 18 Citrus and Hernando investigators searched Boutin’s home and collected blood samples from a rear door and several areas of Boutin’s trailer and the Lincoln. It was confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab to be Stires’ blood.

Also seized were a large amount of guns and ammunition from a safe, including a .38 caliber handgun with several long pieces of hair lodged in the front slide/barrel area.

In two interviews on Jan. 18 and Jan. 20, Boutin said Stires disappeared from his home while he was out helping a friend. But the report notes there were problems with his stories.

Detectives picked up Boutin on Jan. 30 and during a third interview “he explained that he finally wanted to tell the truth about what happened to victim Stires.”

Boutin said it was Brinson who gave Stires the injection and when Stires was “flipping out” Brinson hit Stires with the handgun. He said that the couple moved her from his home to the car and went to his father’s property in Brooksville. He said when they got there she was snoring and sweating profusely. He said they bound Stires’ hands behind her back with duct tape, put a rag in her mouth and taped her mouth wrapping the tape around her head more than once

The couple went to the home of Connie Waller and when they returned to the barn with Waller, Stires was dead. “Boutin stated that they stood there for several minutes in silence until it was decided they needed to get rid of victim Stires’ body,” according to the report.

Boutin said it was Waller’s idea to dump Stires in a secluded place. Boutin and Brinson put the body in the trunk, drove to the man’s home, could not find the place he recommended and then drove around with the body for two days.

On Dec. 27, Boutin and Brinson returned to Waller’s home because Brinson had to be in court that morning on a grand theft charge. Boutin said Waller told him to drive north on U.S. Highway 19 until he crossed the barge canal and then take an old logging trail to an area where he could dump the body.

Boutin told investigators he followed her directions and after driving an hour on US 19 turned east on a cross road and into a public hunting area.

“At that time he dumped victim Stires’ body in a wooded area where he knew she would be eventually discovered,” according to the arrest report.

“It was extremely important to this agency and both the Hernando County and Levy County Sheriff’s Offices that we bring closure to the family of Ms. Stires,” Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said after the arrest.

“No one should have to experience what they’ve gone through. This was a particularly heinous crime done to such a young woman. I’m extremely grateful to my staff who worked on this case around the clock to make an arrest. I also want to say thank you to (Hernando) Sheriff Nienhuis and (Levy) Sheriff McCallum and their staffs for their dedication and commitment to Deanna Stires.”

Lt. Brad Smith, who oversees the major crimes unit, explained that other arrests may be made in the case. 

“We’re continuing our investigation,” Smith said. “As you can see by the arrest, this was a complicated situation that involved many different witnesses and locations. Bringing this case to a complete resolution continues to be a priority.”