Neighbors and co-workers mourn killed Dade City healthcare worker Stephanie Ross

7:39 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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LAKELAND, Florida -- There's no shortage of shock and sadness in the Lakeland neighborhood where a young healthcare worker killed in Dade City Monday night lived.

Neighbors like Robin Gerl are in absolute shock to hear how Stephanie Ross, 25, was killed.

"You're going to help someone and they kill you because they're not right. I don't get that. I don't get it," said Gerl.

Police say Ross was stabbed to death by Lucious Smith when the young worker for Integra Health Management went to Smith's Dade City home. She went there, they say, to make sure the 53-year-old was taking his medications, and that his paperwork for treatment was in order.

Instead, witnesses looked on in horror as Ross screamed for help, running from Smith as he stabbed her repeatedly.

According to records, Smith has a criminal past dating back three decades. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars on charges that include aggravated assault.

Nora Webster, one of Ross' neighbors, questioned why a 25 year-old caseworker was sent to Smith's home.

"She should never have gone in that house, from what I read about him," said Webster.

Maryland-based Integra Health Management sent top executives to Tampa today to counsel and console Ross' co-workers. About a dozen people work for the company in the Tampa Bay region. Each team member receives safety training, and are told their own welfare comes first, according to the company's chief operating officer, Dee Brown.

Brown said this case "is an individual that Stephanie had met with several times already. So, she was not unknown to him and he was not unknown to her."

Ross, said Brown, was only with the company for three months, but made an impression as a caring, highly-dedicated worker. "She was very engaged in helping others. Very enthusiastic about the work that she was doing."

Which makes it even more difficult for friends and neighbors to take. "That's just a life taken way before her time," said Gerl.

A man who came to the door told 10 News the family wants to mourn privately at this point.

Neighbors say Ross lived in Lakeland for some time with her boyfriend.

Smith was arraigned Tuesday afternoon. Given the charges and his criminal past, he was ordered to be held without bond.

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