Questions linger after health care worker stabbed to death - FOX 13 News

Questions linger after health care worker stabbed to death

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Lakeland High School graduate Steffanie Ross had the world at her fingertips. The 25-year old was described by friends as smart and kind, with a bright smile to match her cheerful spirit.

Monday afternoon, the Integra Health Management employee's life was ended tragically too soon.

Lucious Smith, 53, is being charged with first degree murder, after Dade City Police say he stabbed Ross to death and chased her down his street as she tried to deliver him medical paperwork.

Smith lived in a small housing complex, managed exclusively for patients of The Harbor, a Dade City mental health facility.

"We offer a few supportive housing units for people who suffer with serious mental illness. We have housing and wrap services around them to keep them in the community and progressing," said Gail Ryder, vice president of behavioral health of BayCare, which oversees The Harbor.

Some neighbors say Smith's mental condition was alarming and a constant worry.

"Everyone wanted him gone. He was getting up there to where something was going to happen," neighbor Jessica Coleman said.

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, Smith has a lengthy criminal record in the state, dating back to 1977. Many of his arrests were on violent charges and resulted in prison time.

BayCare Health Systems operates The Harbor. They say its properties are only for the chronically mentally ill.  They do have protocol in place if they view the patient as a threat to the community.

"If we feel that that's the case, we work very closely with law enforcement, as we would for their health. We would not ignore a situation that needed intervention," Ryder said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Steffanie's employer says its company procedure to work in pairs. They're investigating why she was alone on this visit.

"We take the safety and well-being of our employees very seriously and are committed to assuring ongoing compliance with existing safety practices and incorporation of measures that might further reduce avoidable risk to our employees," Integra Health Management CEO Dee Brown said Wednesday.

Lucious Smith is currently being held at a Land O' Lakes detention center without bond because of his violent criminal history.

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