According to court documents eighteen year old Jeffrey Muehleman was working for ninety seven year old Earl Baughman when he decided to rob him. Muehleman would suffocate the elderly man before robbing him
Jeffrey Meuhleman would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Jeffrey Muehleman Photos
Jeffrey Muehleman Now
DC Number: 094506
Name: MUEHLEMAN, JEFFREY A
Birth Date: 10/31/1964
Initial Receipt Date: 07/17/1984
Current Facility: UNION C.I.
Current Custody: MAXIMUM
Current Release Date: DEATH SENTENCE
Jeffrey Muehleman Case
Jeffrey Muehleman, age eighteen, was hired as a live-in helper by Earl Baughman, a ninety-seven-year-old man who lived alone in Pinellas Park. Calling himself Jeff Williams or Williamson, Muehleman took the job on Monday, May 2, 1983, which involved helping Baughman around the house and driving him on errands in Baughman’s 1961 Cadillac. Muehleman drove Baughman’s Cadillac to a garage apartment that Muehleman rented from Marie and Jeff Woodward and the Woodwards saw him driving the vehicle.
Virginia Peterson, a friend of Baughman, met Muehleman at the Baughman residence on Wednesday, May 4. Jeffrey Muehleman drove Baughman and Mrs. Peterson to the bank where Baughman cashed his social security check. Muehleman was aware that Baughman had cashed a check for about $500 and decided some time that day to rob him. Later that same day, Muehleman took Baughman to Mrs. Peterson’s house where, unbeknownst to Muehleman, Baughman gave her all but about $150 of the money for safekeeping. Baughman’s daughter, Virginia Battle, met Muehleman at Baughman’s home on the evening of May 4, 1983.4 He told her his name was Jeff Williams. She testified that everything seemed fine when she left.
Sometime that night,Jeffrey Muehleman decided it was time to rob and kill Baughman. He had attempted to enlist the help of a friend, Richard Wesley, in a plan to kill Baughman, but when Wesley did not show up, Muehleman proceeded alone. After Baughman went to bed, Muehleman stood outside Baughman’s door for several hours thinking about what to do. He then took a frying pan from the kitchen and went into the bedroom where he struck Baughman five or six times with it, splattering blood around the bedroom. Muehleman later reported most of the details of the crime to a jail inmate, Ronald Rewis. He told Rewis that before he hit Baughman, he had set up the dining room table with coffee cups and crumbs to make it appear that Baughman had eaten breakfast there. He also told Rewis that when he hit Baughman, it made a “gong sound,” and Muehleman laughed about it. At one point, Baughman was groaning and cried out, “Oh, Jeff.”
When Baughman did not die after being hit repeatedly with the frying pan, Muehleman decided to strangle him. After he strangled Baughman for what Muehleman said “seemed like ten minutes,” Baughman was still breathing, and Muehleman decided to suffocate Baughman with plastic newspaper bags. He stuffed two bags down Baughman’s throat into his windpipe. After attempting to breathe through the plastic bags, Baughman finally died.
Muehleman wiped down the house for fingerprints, cleaned the rug, removed bloody sheets from the bed and remade it, hid a blood stain on the curtain, and burned the sheets and Baughman’s wallet in the backyard. Muehleman tied a plastic bag around Baughman’s head to “collect some of the blood,” and placed him in the trunk of the Cadillac wrapped in a blanket. Muehleman took about $150 in cash, an engraved cigarette lighter, a hat, shoes, and some toiletries, all of which were later found by law enforcement officers in Muehleman’s possession. Muehleman also took an 1886 silver dollar that Baughman kept to commemorate the year of his birth, which Muehleman traded to Mrs. Woodward for some cigarettes.
After watching TV until morning traffic started to pick up, Muehleman drove the Cadillac some distance into St. Petersburg to his garage apartment where he left the items he had taken. With Baughman in the trunk, Muehleman then drove around and finally left the Cadillac parked in front of an apartment complex where he locked the car, wiped it down to remove his fingerprints, took the keys, and returned home.
When Baughman could not be located by his friends and family that day, a photograph of him and a description of the Cadillac were publicized on the news. Marie Woodward, Muehleman’s landlady, believed that Muehleman, whom she knew only as “Jeff,” worked for the missing man and notified law enforcement on May 6, 1983. Muehleman’s landlord, Jeff Woodward, also called the Sheriff’s office on May 6 and told deputies he had seen his tenant driving the Cadillac. An anonymous caller also called on May 6 and reported to deputies that the suspect was leaving the area of the apartment. Deputies went to the garage where Muehleman had been staying and found him returning from the store on a bicycle. Muehleman attempted to flee from deputies and hid his face, but was detained. He told deputies his name was Ed Buchanan, a name with initials that matched those on Baughman’s engraved lighter. After being given his Miranda5 warnings, Jeffrey Muehleman admitted to working for Baughman and to taking some items from him, but denied knowing anything about his disappearance. Muehleman was arrested on charges of obstructing justice by false information on May 6 and continued to deny knowledge of Baughman’s disappearance. He invoked his right to remain silent on May 9, 1983.
On May 14, 1983, the Cadillac was located and Baughman’s body was found in the trunk in a moderately decomposed state. The current medical examiner testified that autopsy reports prepared by the former medical examiner in 1983 indicated Baughman died from suffocation, had a fractured hyoid bone in his throat and did not appear to have a skull fracture. Baughman still had two plastic bags stuffed down his windpipe. Baughman could have been alive for several minutes after the bags were forced down his throat.
Jeffrey Muehleman continued to proclaim his innocence in several interviews he initiated with detectives, but ultimately gave detectives two taped confessions after being advised of his Miranda rights each time. He also confessed to jail inmate Ronald Rewis, who taped part of the conversation.6 While in jail, Jeffrey Muehleman approached Rewis and began to discuss many details of the killing, including some not made public. Rewis approached jail authorities and agreed to secretly record any future conversations with Muehleman, although he contended he never raised the subject himself. On June 8, 1983, Muehleman met with detectives, was informed of the evidence that had been gathered, and confessed in some detail. Jeffrey Muehleman told detectives that he did not decide to kill Baughman until after he had hit him with the frying pan and then realized he did not want Baughman to suffer. Muehleman was formally booked on a charge of first-degree murder. He also confessed to a St. Petersburg Times newspaper reporter, who printed the article on June 9, 1983. Muehleman requested another meeting with detectives on June 10, was again given Miranda warnings, and provided a final taped statement, adding more details of the crime.
At the penalty phase trial, Jeffrey Muehleman represented himself. He presented no mitigation testimony or evidence and, at the conclusion of the proceeding, the jury recommended a sentence of death by a ten-to-two vote. Even though Jeffrey Muehleman presented no mitigation, the State’s sentencing memorandum outlined potential mitigation, including Muehleman’s age of eighteen at the time of the crime and his good prison record. Pursuant to Muhammad v. State, 782 So.2d 343 (Fla.2001),7 the State also provided the trial court with a summary of the mitigation evidence in the record, which was presented in the first penalty phase, including Muehleman’s medical and social problems from birth to the time of trial and the opinions of a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist who testified in the first penalty phase.