- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - David Payne was waiting for her.

He rented a car his ex-girlfriend wouldn’t recognize and staked out the parking lot in the dark for two hours.

He knew Jasmine Samuel, 25, would take her break at 12:30 a.m. from the overnight shift on the assembly line of a plastic packaging company.

When the slender woman emerged from the warehouse, talking on her cell phone, David leapt from the car and grabbed his gun, records show. He rushed toward her and shoved the pistol in her face.

“No David, why?!” she screamed.

He had told her before: “If I can’t be with you, no one can.”

They were an unlikely match. Jasmine, a single mother of two, started dating David, 62, in about 2010. Jasmine was bubbly and energetic, her family and friends said, the opposite of David’s standoffish personality.

Their turbulent relationship is documented in an extensive investigative report by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Jasmine’s family also offered their account.

The couple lived three houses apart in a cozy south Apopka subdivision, a place where homeowners sit on their lawns in plastic chairs and wave to passersby as noisy ice cream trucks circle the block. But they really got to know each other through Jasmine’s best friend, who was dating David’s son.

There were things about David that Montina Samuel, Jasmine’s aunt, never liked.

He rarely said hello to Montina and wouldn’t make eye contact with her, she said. A burly man at 5 feet, 11 inches, David had a reputation, Montina said, of dating younger women and sometimes being violent. He spent five years in prison for kidnapping a woman in 1992, Orange County court records show.

Montina feared the worst.

Her sister, Jasmine’s mother, was shot in the head when she was 19, killed by her ex-boyfriend.

Jasmine was just 18 months old in 1992 when her mother’s boyfriend, Willie Smith, scooped her up from day care without telling anyone.

Montina awoke the next morning to the screams of Jasmine’s mother, Degie Samuel, echoing across the courtyard of an Apopka apartment complex where they both lived.

Willie Smith beat Degie and shot her through a bathroom door, which she locked herself behind. He then pressed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. He died three days later.

“He didn’t want to let go,” Montina said.

After the shooting, investigators found Jasmine at the house of Willie’s mother. From that day forward, Montina raised Jasmine, who struggled with never knowing her mom. Her dad remained in the picture, but she didn’t live with him.

In a Facebook post on Nov. 23, 2015 - her mother’s birthday - Jasmine said she didn’t want her daughters, ages 9 and 5, to experience the same loss.

“I see a lot of people disrespect their mom in such a way that makes me sad because a lot of you will never know what it feels like,” she wrote. “It’s times where I wish I could hug her, pick up the phone and call her, or just even tell her how my dad is (doing) or how happy I am to be where I’m at today, but I can’t.”

By 2014, David had gotten Jasmine a better-paying job at a plastic packaging company where he worked. She and her daughters moved in with him. But the relationship began to go downhill in the following year.

David would take the truck they shared without telling Jasmine, leaving her stranded for hours or unable to get to work. He became increasingly jealous, Jasmine told her family, often using his control of the truck to control her. And one time, David showed her a loaded gun magazine and said, “I hope I won’t have to use it on you.”

They broke up in November. Jasmine and the girls moved to a new home in Ocoee.

At work, Jasmine tried to keep things normal. She sat with David at lunch to ward off any gossip. But the tension persisted. David implored his manager to drug test Jasmine, but he refused, knowing David just wanted to get back at her. Jasmine switched to the night shift and didn’t see him as much.

About two weeks before the kidnapping, David threatened to kill Jasmine, she told her coworkers.

Investigators say he carried out his threat on Dec. 16, ambushing Jasmine at gunpoint outside her workplace.

David forced Jasmine to walk to her car and climb into the trunk. Trapped inside, Jasmine pulled out her phone and dialed 911. She frantically told dispatchers what happened.

“He said he is going to kill me!” she yelled.

Jasmine managed to stay on the line for five minutes. She offered bits of information - “he came in a rental car!” - but didn’t say who she believed was the abductor.

A number of gunshots sounded and the line clicked off. Dispatch called back 21 times over the next 30 minutes.

No one answered.

It took 11 minutes to trace the location of her call and two more hours before Orange County Sheriff’s deputies found the car four miles from where she was kidnapped. Inside the trunk was Jasmine’s body, curled into the fetal position. Bullet holes riddled the back seat.

After a two-day manhunt, David was spotted sitting by himself at a Sam’s Club cafeteria, looking sleepy.

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if they get a conviction, court records show. David pleaded not guilty.

Friends and family of Jasmine set up a fundraising page to help with expenses for her daughters.

At the Marvin C. Zanders cemetery, a few blocks from the subdivision where Jasmine and David lived, there’s a party happening.

Sparklers, a bright tablecloth and confetti - all the makings of a birthday bash - are sprinkled across a plastic picnic table. It’s April 16, the day Samuel would have turned 26 years old. Her grave, already adorned with bouquets of flowers and photos, is nearby.

Montina calls it a “cupcake toast.” Jasmine loved cupcakes, so everyone brought them for a feast. The wind is blowing, the sky sprinkling a light rain.

“These ain’t the kind of parties I like, and I don’t want to go these kinds of parties no more,” Montina said. “The only reason I’m giving it today is because her girls asked for it. . This is part of their healing, so I honor them with that.”

Jasmine’s daughters join hands and sing a heart-wrenching ballad. They put Beanie Babies next to their mom’s tombstone and hand out the balloons, which are launched into a darkening sky.

Montina will raise the girls as her own. Just as she did with Jasmine when her mother was killed.


Information from: Orlando Sentinel, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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