Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is dealing with a personal tragedy: The murder of one of his dearest employees.
Police said she was beaten to death by her husband at their home in Plant City.
The tragedy has stunned her colleagues at the sheriff's office.
"When I started here," said Bea Dickey in an interview with FOX 13 back in 2005, "the role had always been filled by a man and always been filled by a sworn officer."
Dickey loved her job. She rose to the number-three position at the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
"You just didn't even think that this would be a female's job and a civilian's job," Dickey said.
But, she was the first woman and civilian to become executive director of business affairs – and she was good at it.
"She was my right hand," said Sheriff Judd. "She was simply one of the most brilliant people that I've ever been associated with."
Judd and his staff face tragedy often; it's part of the job, but nothing prepares them for this.
"We don't know why, we don't know any details, other than the fact that, apparently, she was beaten absolutely to death by her husband," said Sheriff Judd.
Larry Dickey, 44, is charged with first-degree murder after police said he beat his wife to death with an aluminum bat.
"You will be staying in jail without bond," said judge Walter Heinrich at Dickey's arraignment Monday morning. "You've admitted your guilt; you're excused, sir."
Detectives said Dickey came to the Plant City Police Department early Sunday morning, approached the guard working the gate and said, "Lock me up, I just beat my wife."
"He did make some statements that yes, he was responsible for her injuries," said Plant City Detective Tray Towles.
"He didn't give any indication to our officers as to a motive, why he did what he did," said Sheriff Judd.
Bea Dickey's body was found in the bedroom. Her 17-year-old son was asleep on the couch while she was beaten to death.
"The yellow tape's what really freaks you out," said Keith Roberts, who lives just across the street. "It's all very sad. We knew the kids are dealing with it, having a hard time, and we're all just praying, not only for her, but him."
By all accounts, Dickey was a bright, happy woman. Her colleagues at the sheriff's office saw no warning signs of trouble at home. There were two cars in the driveway when we stopped by the home and knocked on her door, but no one answered.
Sheriff Judd said her loss is being felt by her family at home and at work.
"We're all gonna miss her and it's gonna be very, very difficult on all of us at the sheriff's office to recover from this because she was very, very special to all of us," continued Judd.
Bea Dickey is survived by two sons and two step-daughters.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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