Walter's son, Robert Farley, and daughter-in-law left at around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to go to a New Year's Eve party at the Red Rose Inn in Plant City. The couple spent the night at the hotel. When they returned home they found that there had been a home invasion and that Walter had been shot to death.
Robert and his wife had been staying with Walter for the past four years to care for him.
The family's neighbors describe Walter as a good man who was still active in the neighborhood.
"We always saw him outside pulling weeds. He'd always say hi," said neighbor Sase Singh. "Our kids went to their house trick or treating, very friendly guy in the neighborhood."
Sheriff Grady Judd calls the homicide a senseless act of violence.
"This was a good solid man in the community. Even though he was 93 he was still active in the Kathleen Historical Society," Judd said. "He was a ham radio operator, he knew Morse code and he was one the community could always depend on to help out in any event."
Judd is calling on the community to help solve the crime. He says investigators don't have a lot to go on. They're not sure how many people they're looking for or what kind of car they were driving.
Detectives say fireworks could have masked the sound of gunshots. "I was out here last night," Singh said. "We had a party and we didn't hear anything."
LAKELAND (Bay News 9) -- Deputies have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of a 93-year-old Lakeland man -- the victim's son.
Robert Farley, the son of Walter Farley, was arrested Saturday and confessed to killing his father.
"He's not expressed any remorse to anyone," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. "He was very complementary of the investigators, the detectives, the homicide detectives and the homicide supervisors as to their thoroughness."
According to the confession, Robert killed Walter because Walter objected to Robert's plan to divorce his wife.
Robert and his wife had lived with Walter and cared for him during the past four years.
According to authorities, on New Year's Eve the couple left the home in Indian Heights in Lakeland to attend a New Year's celebration at the Red Rose Inn in Plant City.
Authorities say Robert left his wife at the hotel while he went back to the home and shot his father multiple times. They say Robert then ransacked the home to make it look like a home invasion.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office says their dive team found the .38-caliber handgun that Robert allegedly used to shoot his father. The gun was found in Lake Wire in the area where Robert told detectives he disposed of it.
The incident was reported Thursday morning by Robert when he and his wife returned to the home.
Robert Farley, accused in the New Year's Eve shooting death of his 93-year-old father, had his first court appearance Sunday in Bartow.
Farley told a judge he was trying to obtain a private attorney to represent him. He is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of his father Walter Farley and is being held without bail.
Robert Farley lived with his father, Walter Farley, in his home at 7931 Indians Heights Drive, north of Duff Road in Lakeland.
Authorities said 63-year-old Robert Farley on Saturday morning confessed to his father's murder.
The initial investigation began after Robert Farley and his wife, Mary, arrived back home on New Year's Day to find Farley dead of multiple gunshot wounds. The house had been rummaged through and a radio, collectible model cars and framed photos of Walter Farley had been taken, Sheriff Grady Judd said Saturday morning.
Before turning their focus to Robert Farley, authorities ruled out a number of suspects, including eight door-to-door magazine salesmen seen walking around the neighborhood that night.
Investigators realized the timetable for Robert Farley's story did not check out after watching surveillance video from the Red Rose Inn in Plant City, where he had stayed New Year's Eve. They interviewed him again Friday.
They kept Farley under surveillance and followed him to his house Saturday to execute another search warrant.
At that time, Farley confessed to the crime and led detectives to Lake Wire, where he said he had discarded the murder weapon, officials said. Members of the Sheriff's Office dive team found the .38-caliber handgun about 4:30 p.m.
According to Judd, Farley told investigators the following story:
Because of a serious illness, Farley's wife, Mary, takes medication that causes her to sleep. After arriving at the Red Rose Inn on Dec. 31, she took the medicine and went to bed for a two-hour nap.
When she fell asleep about 6 p.m., Farley returned to his house and told his father he intended to divorce his wife because he knew her illness would eventually leave her in a wheelchair. The two began to argue as they stood in the hallway outside Walter Farley's office. The argument turned physical.
Judd said Walter Farley was shot at close range four to five times, in the hands, chest, thigh and hip. Neighbors celebrating the new year said they mistook the shots for firecrackers.
Robert Farley changed his clothes and rummaged through the house, then left his father and returned to the Red Rose Inn, Judd said. Mary Farley, who investigators are not considering a suspect, was still sleeping by the time he arrived about 7:30 p.m.
Mary Farley awoke, and the two went to the inn's New Year's party, where they had dinner and danced.
About 9 a.m. Thursday, Robert Farley and his wife returned home, found Walter Farley dead, and called 911.
Robert Farley has lived with his wife at his father's home for about four years. Financial problems led the couple to move in with Walter Farley, who often helped his son, said a close friend who didn't want to be named.
Robert Farley had a computer repair workshop set up in the garage, and a profile listed for a Robert Farley on the career networking Web site LinkedIn says he was employed as a field engineer for the company L-1 Identity Solutions.
For the most part, Walter and Robert Farley, who are originally from New Jersey, had a good relationship, a close friend said.
Before beginning his career as a telephone and radio repairman, Walter Farley had a similar position with the U.S. Army in New Jersey during World War II.
He worked for AT&T for about 30 years and travelled all over the country. Friends say Farley often told stories about how he met three different presidents while taking trips as a repairman aboard Air Force One.
Eventually, he relocated his family to Florida.
After he retired in the early 80s, Walter Farley bought a travel trailer and took his wife, Loretta, and Robert Farley on a cross-country road trip.
In 1992, Loretta and Walter Farley were living in Dade County when Hurricane Andrew hit. When their trailer and home were ruined, the couple decided to move to Lakeland, according to a 2002 Ledger report.
Friends said he regularly attended monthly spaghetti dinners with the Kathleen Area Historical Society, fixed tape recorders for the blind at the Auburndale Public Library, and frequented Kathleen United Methodist Church.
Please accept the heartfelt condolences of the officers and members of the Quarter Century Wireless Association in your time of grief.Sincerely Yours,
Robert Roske, NØUF
President - QCWA