Byron Lee Boutin, 44, Homosassa, was arrested Wednesday evening in Lecanto and charged with the second-degree murder of DeAnna Lee Stires, the 18-year-old Hernando County resident reported missing on New Years Day.
Boutin is being held at the Citrus County Detention Facility without bond.
According to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, a witness pointed law enforcement to Boutin as a possible suspect on Jan. 17. The next day, Boutin's home was searched.
Boutin confessed Wednesday to binding Stires while she was still alive on the night of Dec. 25, and dumping her body two days after her death in a remote area off of State Road 24 in Levy County, where a hunter found her on Jan. 18, say Citrus County sheriff's officials.
Boutin, who had been interviewed by law enforcement a few times before his confession, gave a sworn and recorded statement on the "truth" of what really happened to Stires, according to sheriff's office reports.
Boutin said he picked up Stires off of Mitchell Road in Brooksville, and spent about a day doing drugs with her and his girlfriend, Crystal Brinson, 35, at his trailer home on West Brady Lane in Homosassa. Christmas Day evening, Boutin said he and Brinson left Stires in the house for a while, and came back to find his residence ransacked, and Stires "acting crazy," according to the affidavit.
Boutin said a bag and pipe of methamphetamine were missing upon his return, and that Stires accused him of stealing clothing from a friend. Stires later calmed down, and Boutin said he saw Brinson give what he thought was a morphine injections. Boutin believed Stires had consented to the shot.
Stires was "flipping out" again a short time later, according to Boutin, and he said as they were preparing to take her back to Brooksville, Brinson hit Stires in the head with a pistol several times.
After the fight, Boutin said he put Stires in the back seat of his car, and decided to take her to his father's house off Centralia Road in Brooksville. Upon arrival, Boutin put Stires in a garage, and observed her snoring and sweating but didn't think anything was wrong because Stires had been up for a few days using methamphetamines.
At this time, Boutin said he and Brinson bound Stires' hands with duct tape, in case she woke up and started to "freak out" again. Boutin and Brinson also put a rag in her mouth and taped it shut.
Leaving Stires tied up, they left the house and drove to a witness' house off of Fort Dade Avenue. Stires was dead when they returned an hour later, Boutin told detectives.
Boutin said a witness advised him to get rid of Stires body.
Boutin said they put Stires' body in the trunk of his car, and drove around for two days before finding a secluded spot to leave it.
Boutin said Brinson had court the morning of Dec. 27. While Brinson was at court, a friend in Floral City advised him to take U.S. 19 north, cross the barge canal and take one of the logging roads to a secluded spot. Boutin said he drove north for about an hour, and eventually left her body in a secluded hunting area, "where he knew she would eventually be discovered," according to the affidavit.
Following his confession, Boutin was placed under arrest on charges of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Boutin's house was searched on Jan. 18, and law enforcement collected evidence in his home and car that included blood samples and several guns, one of which contained hair samples similar to the victim's hair color and shade.
Law enforcement later interviewed witnesses in the area who said they thought they heard a fight that night, but the "screaming stopped abruptly," and they did not hear any other noise until Boutin left the house around 6 a.m. on Dec. 26.
Witness accounts are included in the affidavit, including an account from a friend of Boutin's who said he was with Stires from Dec. 23 through Christmas Day, and he took drugs with her at different locations in Citrus and Hernando counties, including Boutin's trailer.
The witness also said Boutin and Brinson woke him up on Dec. 26, told him Stires had been given a "hot shot" (an "unknown injectable narcotic), and asked for a location to dump the body. The witness said he didn't know if they were joking, but gave Boutin and Brinson directions to Croom-Rital Road.
Stires' aunt, Betty Erhard of Brooksville, said "everyone is relieved there's been an arrest," though the family is far from closure.
Erhard said the family was notified Wednesday night, shortly after Boutin was arrested. Erhard said DeAnna's mother, Melba Miller, was in Florida to receive the news, but headed back to Rochester, N.Y., on Thursday.
Melba said she's glad there's been an arrest and wants justice for her daughter.
After the arrest, Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said it was important to his force as well as Hernando and Levy county law enforcement to "bring closure" to Stires' family.
"No one should have to experience what they've gone through," Dawsy said. "This was a particularly heinous crime done to such a young woman."
Citrus County major crimes Lt. Brad Smith said the investigation is on-going.
Hernando County clerk records show Boutin had several traffic cases.
Hernando County jail records show Brinson has been arrested many times over the past few years for charges of battery, larceny, failure to appear and probation violation. Clerk records show that Brinson was in Hernando County court on Dec. 27, and her adjudication was withheld for a retail grand theft charge. Financial records show she owes more than $1,000 in court costs.
On Thursday evening, Heather Yates, a Citrus County Sheriff's spokeswoman, said to her knowledge, no additional arrests have been made, and no warrants are active.