Tony Joiner, 33, was booked into Polk County Jail on an outstanding warrant from Lee County.
The Lake Wales Police Department served the warrant in connection with the 2016 slaying after three years of efforts by investigators to determine the culprit in the slaying of Heyzel Obando.
Joiner, who is expected to be transferred to Lee County Jail this week, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the case.
Obando was murdered on Valentine’s Day 2016, and two months after the killing, Fort Myers police formally classified the death by gunfire as a homicide, ruling out suicide or accidental death.
Joiner played safety for the Gators from 2004 to 2007, putting him with Hernandez for one season when the future New England Patriots standout was a freshman in Gainesville and in the company of Tim Tebow for the current New York Mets minor-leaguer’s freshman and sophomore years. He was captain of the 2007 Florida team.
Joiner has a prior criminal history in addition to these murder charges, having been arrested in Lee County in 2015 for marijuana possession and again in 2016 for violating his probation.
His drug problems did not end with those two arrests. In 2018, Joiner was arrested in Polk County on drug paraphernalia charges.
Marijuana is the least of his criminal history, however. He had twice been arrested on domestic violence charges before Obando’s death, the News-Press reported.
Joiner and Obando had two daughters, and Joiner’s criminal history and the circumstances of their marriage were sufficiently troubling for Obando’s family to petition for full custody of the girls, which was awarded in 2017.
The Obando case recently was brought into the spotlight by the reality TV show “Cold Justice,” a series on the Oxygen network dealing with unsolved murder cases. Fort Myers police said they worked closely with “Cold Justice” in solving the case.
Fort Myers Police Detectives made an arrest in the three-year-old murder case of Heyzel Obando on Saturday, June 8, 2019…
According to “Cold Justice” star and former prosecutor Kelly Siegler, shows like hers often provide resources that strapped police departments cannot often spare as they deal with the day-to-day problems in their communities.
“In the real world, cops don’t get the luxury of working on cases one at a time,” Siegler told WFTX-TV in Fort Myers. “We force two assigned detectives to only focus on one case with us while we’re here. You wouldn’t believe the results that happen when you have the luxury of doing that.”
She also credited the community for helping to crack the case.
“People are still around, they’re alive, they have their memories,” Siegler said. “And they’re motivated to help. You don’t find that in all cold cases.”
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson also expressed his gratitude at the assistance the television network gave in helping the police to solve the case.
“I’m optimistic, I’m encouraged,” Henderson told WFTX. “It just helps the overall effort of giving us the best chance to give families closure on these awful, awful events.”
It should be noted that “arrested and charged” and “convicted” are two quite different things, and Joiner is still innocent until proven guilty.
But Fort Myers prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to convict — that will ultimately be up to the courts to decide.
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