Courtney Bright's body was found at Lakeland foreclosed home

6:14 PM, Apr 25, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Arrest made in Lakeland woman found dead in foreclosed home

  • Victim, Courtney Bright
  • Ashley Dunn

Update: Jerry Seger's first appearance in court was Sunday morning. He's facing a first degree murder charge. The judge denied his bond. His next court appearance is June 1st.

Lakeland, Florida - 40 year old, Jerry Seger was arrested Saturday in the case of a woman whose body was found inside a foreclosed home located at 3510 Knights Station in Lakeland.

24-year-old Courtney Bright is the victim. She's a homeless woman who, friends say, was trying to get her life back on track. According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Bright had been dating 23-year-old Ashley Dunn, who is currently in jail on a warrant out of another county.

Detectives arrested Dunn's father, 40-year-old Jerry Lee Seger, and charged him with one count of first degree murder in Bright's death.

According to the arrest affidavit, Seger blamed Bright for his daughter's arrest, telling a friend he never liked Bright and was going to kill her. Investigators say Seger followed through on that threat, pretending to give Bright a ride on Tuesday, April 20th.

An hour and a half later, Seger's friend says Seger returned with some women's clothing, shoes and a wallet in the back of his Ford Explorer and refused to say where Bright was. The friend told detectives Seger admitted to killing Bright and that he needed to get rid of her body. The friend says Seger refused to say where Bright's body was located.

But before Seger could move Bright's body, investigators say a couple who was looking at the Knights Station Road property discovered her body on Thursday morning around 10 a.m.

The couple was supposed to meet with a realtor, who was scheduled to let them in, but Chad Karr, a realtor with Realty World - which is the listing agency on the property - says that realtor called him and asked for the lockbox code and then gave it to the couple before arriving. The couple discovered the body before the agent could get there.

Meanwhile, neighbors in the community where Bright would often spend a week at time say they're relieved an arrest has been made but they're still upset someone would take Bright's life. Detra Hudson says, "That is ridiculous. That is so sad. When I heard about it, I was, like, 'whoever did it should be punished for that' because, like I said, she was a neighborhood person and everybody loved her and the kids they loved her also."

Bobbie Johnson and her husband, who live a few miles away from Knights Station Road, opened their home to Bright.

Bobbie says, "[I] hope it never happens, but if my kids or grandkids were out on the street, I would hope someone would open their door to them. If she ran out of places to stay, she knew she could come back here."

Bobbie also says Bright would call her "Mama." She says, "We'd sit and talk for hours. She was a good girl having a hard time... fell on hard times. Homeless. Jobless."

Bobbie says Bright would take the bus to look for a job. Neighbors say she would do odd jobs for them to earn money. She'd babysit and ask to cut the grass. They also say she was a good cook and loved to barbeque.

Tony Butler has three grandsons and says he and his wife hired her whenever they could so they could go out and spend some time together. Butler says Bright would play football with the kids in the neighborhood and he knows they will miss her. He says it's difficult to explain to them that she's gone.

Hudson says, they really don't want to share the bad news with the children. "Because I know if you were to tell them they'd be so shook up. They'd be like, 'Who did it, mama?' That's why we didn't tell them."

Butler describes Bright as, "Very responsible. Clean. Didn't curse much. She was trying to get her life back together. She started going to church. It's sad that it happened this way."

Tammie Fields, 10 Connects

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