‘Devil is in the details’: Murder suspect arrested during church service

Posted at 12:13 PM, March 15, 2023 and last updated 7:26 PM, July 5, 2023

POLK CITY, Fla. (Court TV) — A church service featuring a Florida sheriff as a guest speaker took a surprising turn when a parishioner was arrested on murder charges.

John Skeen, 56, was arrested while attending church services on March 12, said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Skeen was charged with second-degree murder from a shooting on Friday, March 10, in Hillsborough County. In a news release, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were called to a reported shooting just before 10 p.m. and found a male victim with a gunshot wound to his upper body. The victim, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

John Skeen booking photo

John Skeen is charged with second-degree murder. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators said that Skeen and the victim were on a fishing trip with a third friend and were returning from a bar when they got into an argument, WFTS reported. Detectives said the argument escalated until Skeen pulled a gun and shot the victim.

“What should have been a fun fishing trip filled with great memories, turned into a tragic weekend,” Hillsborough County Chad Chronister said. “Violence is never the solution to a disagreement. Our hearts are with this victim’s family and we hope this arrest will bring some sense of closure to the loved ones.”

While Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies announced the arrest, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office offered a further description of Skeen’s arrest, saying, “There’s much more to the story though. Much, much more. In fact, you could say that the devil is in the details.”

Deputies in Polk County said that they received a tip that Skeen would be attending church in Polk City, and managed to get him outside without disrupting the service. During the arrest, Skeen allegedly asked the deputy taking him into custody if he could return to the church for the rest of the service so he could “dedicate his life to the Lord before going to jail.”

The deputy told Skeen that it would not be possible to return to the sanctuary, but offered to take a moment to pray together before taking Skeen to the processing center to be booked.

Deputies also noted that the guest speaker at the church when Skeen was arrested was Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

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