Photo/Story Gallery 2001

Troopers Apprehend Suspect In Double Murder

Trooper Murphy
Clay Murphy

Trooper Mason
Jim Mason

Trooper Allain
Steve Allain

Trooper Hunter
Melba Hunter

A Palatka man was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol just minutes after the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office named him as the prime suspect in the double murders of a man and his mother.

On October 31st at 12:37 P.M., the Jacksonville Florida Highway Patrol received a call to be on the lookout for a red 2-door Honda driven by the murder suspect possibly traveling to Jacksonville from Putnam County. FHP Duty Officer Melba Hunter immediately broadcast the information to troopers in the Clay and Duval County areas.

A Florida Highway Patrol aircraft immediately began searching along State Road 21 for the suspect’s vehicle. Within minutes, the pilot, Sergeant Clay Murphy, spotted a car matching the description driving north on Blanding Boulevard. After confirming with Duty Officer Hunter that Sergeant Murphy had the correct vehicle, Clay County Troopers Steve Allain and Jim Mason moved in on the ground and pulled in behind the suspect’s car, executing a felony traffic stop in the parking lot of the McDonald’s at the corner of State Road 21 and County Road 218. Troopers directed the driver out of the vehicle at gunpoint, placed him on the ground, and made the arrest. A potential murder weapon was found in the vehicle.

Deputies from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office responded to provide backup to troopers after the stop. The suspect arrested by the troopers was identified as Stephen West, age 33. West was taken to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office where he was charged with fatally shooting 39-year old Robert Shelby Graves, and his 61-year old mother, Deloris Moss, in their Palatka home.