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Bloomingdale teacher, James Pepe, dials 'M' for murder

10:32 PM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- James Pepe was arrested, cops say, for trying to hire a hitman.

Pepe is a teacher at Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, and cops say his target was Robert Meredith, a teacher at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover.  Pepe thought Meredith was quote "out to get him."

"He, in his mind, thought that all his problems were due to the victim in this case, and thought the only way to solve the issue was to kill him, " said Plant City Police spokesman Tray Towles.

According to cops, Pepe called a good friend in Georgia asking him to do the deed, but he ratted Pepe out, calling police instead. The feds set up a sting and arrested Pepe on a warrant with probable cause.   

10 news knocked on the door at Pepe's home.  No answer, but his neighbors were home, and weren't surprised by the news of his arrest.

Neighbor Ella Patton said, "We had a confrontation and he threatened me, so I stayed away from him and blew it off."

We also stopped at Meredith's home for his reaction.  Meredith wouldn't go on camera, but did say he had no idea why Pepe wanted him dead. Police say Pepe thought Meredith was spreading nasty rumors.

"There were some rumors going around and Pepe thought it was caused by the victim in this case," added Towles.

But Meredith says none of that is true, and Pepe's neighbors say they severed their relationship with him because they didn't like his bizarre behavior or his unwelcome comments to their daughter.

"He would call her sweetie, and I didn't like that, " Patton added.

Students at Bloomingdale High weren't surprised either, saying Pepe acted weird and had an aversion to police.

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