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Roommate charged in murder of ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry

James William Davis

James William Davis

Police in Zephyrhills, Florida, have charged Stephen Perry’s roommate in the May murder of the ThunderCats writer.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that 45-year-old James William Davis, who had been identified as “a person of interest,” was arrested today on a charge of first-degree murder. He has been in Pasco County Jail since May 21, when he was arrested on unrelated drug charges.

Perry’s van was discovered on May 16 at a Tampa motel, reportedly near a severed arm. More remains were found in a dumpster at a gas station two miles from his ransacked home. James Davis and his wife Roxanne Davis, 49, were missing as well. However, police later arrested the couple on unrelated charges. Last month, a torso also was discovered and identified as Perry’s.

According to the Times, Perry’s death is still being investigated, and Roxanne Davis has not been ruled out as a suspect.

Perry, 56, suffered from bladder cancer and had been jobless, without health care and, for a time, forced to live in his van with his 5-year-old son Leo. Over the last eight months of his life he received assistance from the Hero Initiative, which helped him to line up work and pay rent, utilities and medical bills.

Perry was best known for his work on the mid-1980s animated series ThunderCats and SilverHawks, both developed by Rankin/Bass. However, he also wrote comics like Timespirits and Psi-Force for Marvel and Wally Wood’s THUNDER Agents for Deluxe.


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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry

Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.

Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]

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Police confirm that ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry was murdered

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry

Police in Zephyrhills, Florida, have confirmed that ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry, who has been missing for more than two weeks, is the victim of an apparent homicide.

His van was discovered on May 16 at a Tampa motel, reportedly near a severed arm. More remains were found in a dumpster at a gas station two miles from his ransacked home. Perry’s roommates, James Davis, 45, and Roxanne Davis, 49, were missing as well. However, police later arrested the couple on unrelated charges. They’re now considered “persons of interest” in the case.

Perry, 56, suffered from bladder cancer and had been jobless, without health care and, for a time, forced to live in his van with his 5-year-old son Leo. Over the past eight months he received assistance from the Hero Initiative, which helped him to line up work and pay rent, utilities and medical bills.

The Tampa Tribune reports that Krystal Carroll, his 26-year-old ex-girlfriend and the mother of Leo, was told on May 19 that Perry was dead. The two had a tumultuous relationship, with Carroll seeking emergency custody of their son and Perry getting a domestic violence injunction against her, all in late April.

Earlier this week the newspaper spoke with Perry’s longtime friend, artist Steve Bissette, who had been instrumental in bringing the writer’s plight to the attention of the comics industry. Since Perry was reported missing, Bissette has devoted his blog to remembering his friend’s life and career and tracking news reports of his disappearance.

Perry was best known for his work on the mid-1980s animated series ThunderCats and SilverHawks, both developed by Rankin/Bass. However, he also wrote comics like Timespirits and Psi-Force for Marvel and Wally Wood’s THUNDER Agents for Deluxe. Nat Gertler revealed that, to help the writer, he recently purchased the rights to Salimba, the jungle-heroine comic that Perry created in the 1980s with Paul Chadwick.


Roommate, friend paint a grim picture of Stephen Perry’s last months

Timespirits #9

Timespirits #9

Police have released few details of the investigation into the possible murder of ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry, who disappeared from his home in Zephyrhills, Florida, at least nine days ago.

However, in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Perry’s roommate James Davis, considered a “person of interest” in the case, recounts details of what may have been the writer’s final months.

Perry, who suffered from bladder cancer, had been jobless, without health care and, for a time, forced to live in his van with his 5-year-old son Leo. Over the past eight months, the writer’s plight was brought to the attention of the comics industry by the likes of artist and longtime friend Steve Bissette and the Hero Initiative, a charity that helped him to line up work and pay rent, utilities and medical bills.

But on Sunday police discovered Perry’s van abandoned at a Tampa motel with a severed arm nearby. More remains were found in a dumpster at a gas station two miles from his ransacked home. On Friday police arrested James Davis and his wife Roxanne Davis, who shared the house with Perry, on unrelated charges.

In the interview, James Davis contends Perry had a crippling addiction to oxycodone, which he was prescribed for cancer pain. But he also questions whether the Timespirits creator was actually ill, and accuses him of hatching eBay scams to support his drug habit. However, Bissette assures the newspaper that Perry underwent surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed in March 2009, and quit painkillers “cold turkey” that summer.

Davis also claims he received a text message from Perry on May 14, two days before police discovered the van, thanking him for watching the house and saying “he was going somewhere.”

Related:
• Bissette continues his remembrance of Perry.
• David Allen Jones writes about his interactions with Perry.
Mark Evanier and Colleen Doran consider Perry’s financial plight, and “the roller-coaster-ride lives of those who freelance.”

Nat Gertler on Stephen Perry and the Hero Initiative

Salimba 3-D (1986)

Salimba 3-D (1986)

About Comics publisher Nat Gertler posted the following over the weekend in response to the news about writer Stephen Perry., and we thought it was worth posting on its own.

by Nat Gertler

I hadn’t known Steve over the years (although I am quite fond of some of his work), but over the last few months I’d been interacting with him, mainly via email – first with small amounts of charity, then with helping him through straightforward business, buying out the rights to the Salimba work he did with Paul Chadwick, then with buying a new Salimba prose story from him.

Steve struggled hard during those few months, from his physical failures, from problems of access to health care, and from the various other difficulties brought on by lack of money. But through all that, he continued expressed his appreciation for all that his supporters had brought, feeling that he only had a roof over his head and what health care had held him together this long thanks to that support, which came largely from those within the comics community, whether it was old friends like Bissette, or from both pros and fans he had not known, or from the wonderful Hero Initiative. He knew the end was coming (although not in the way it appears to have come), and was doing whatever he could to smooth the path for his son. (That concern permeates the prose story, which he felt was the last he would write; in it, Salimba struggles to care for a child that she is not equipped to handle.) It is such a relief that, whatever has befallen Steve, it has not befallen Leo.

Give to the Hero Initiative — they’ve got a lot of way to give, some quite painless. If you want to keep up your tough-guy image, they have a variety of cool products you can buy so you can pretend you’re not being charitable when you send them your money. They do a lot of good with what they get.

ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry missing after grisly discovery [Updated]

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry

Police in Florida are searching for ailing ThunderCats writer Stephen Perry, who disappeared from his Zephyrhills home under suspicious, and possibly ghastly, circumstances.

His van was found Sunday abandoned in a motel parking lot. Nearby, FOX 13 reports, was a man’s severed arm. More remains were discovered at a gas-station dumpster two miles away from Perry’s home, which had been ransacked.

On Friday authorities arrested Perry’s two roommates, Roxanne D. Davis, 49, and James W. Davis, 46, who had been missing since Sunday. The St. Petersburg Times reports that James Davis is charged with trafficking of controlled substances, possession of paraphernalia, possession of controlled substances and two warrants for failure to appear in court. Roxanne Davis is charged with violation of parole, grand theft and burglary.

Police have avoided publicly referring to the case as a homicide investigation, but signs obviously point to that. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement told The Tampa Tribune the agency had been called in to assist with an apparent homicide, but wouldn’t say whether it was related to the missing persons investigation. However, Zephyrhills Mayor Cliff McDuffie said, “I assume it is the same investigation. I assume it is a homicide.”

Perry, 56, is best known for his work on the mid-1980s animated series ThunderCats and SilverHawks, both developed by Rankin/Bass. However, he also wrote comics like Timespirits and Psi-Force for Marvel and Wally Wood’s THUNDER Agents for Deluxe.

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