The suspect identified in a brutal attack of an 80-year-old clerk at Elonka's Fashions in Winter Haven has been captured in Columbia County.
Perry L. Chance, 53, is at the Columbia County Jail and will be brought back to Polk County to face a judge in the next couple of days.
Winter Haven Police said they received two tips stating that Chance was seen near the intersection of 66th St. N and 54th Ave. N in St. Petersburg and at the Crystal Inn.
Authorities showed Chance's photo to the motel management, who confirmed that Chance was checked into the motel last night. Entry was made into the room, but Chance had already left, police said.
A receipt was located along with alcohol inside of the room, which led authorities to a nearby McDonald's where an employee confirmed his visit.
A close look at the car Chance was in revealed that he had placed a Sunoco sticker on the bumper in an obvious attempt to alter the original vehicle description and also placed a stolen tag on the vehicle, police said. The stolen tag is from a vehicle out of St. Petersburg.
The Florida Highway Patrol was alerted and a BOLO (Be On The Lookout) for the vehicle and stolen tag was issued. A trooper spotted Chance in the vehicle traveling just north of Gainesville on I-75 and began following him. Chance got off the interstate and pulled into a truck stop near Lake City in Columbia County, where he was immediately apprehended.
Surveillance video shows a man believed to be Chance forcing Carol Sleeth, 80, into the back of a clothing store, where he brutally beat her and tied her up. Police say he ran off with money and Sleeth's car.
"You’re caught! I knew that you would be caught, and you’re still a low life scumbag and you’re going to go back where you deserve to be," said son Doug Sleeth.
Winter Haven Police Chief Charles Bird said that Chance had actually filled out an application for working at the store, which helped them eventually catch him.
"It’s a relief and almost joy in knowing that he’s been apprehended," said Sleeth. "It almost brought me to tears."
"I had goose bumps when I heard the news," said daughter Cindy Grondin. "Just elated."
The Sleeth family said they are happy about the arrest but are focusing on their mother's recovery.