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Man visiting for Falcon Heavy launch stabbed 20 times at motel, records show

'He attempted to rape me and I stabbed him to death,' suspect tells authorities

COCOA, Fla. – A Marion County man in town for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy test flight on Feb. 6 was stabbed to death in a Cocoa motel room by a 19-year-old man, the arrest warrant released Monday shows.

Terry Hilliard, 65, told his wife he watched the launch, but because of traffic he was going to stay at a motel in Brevard County and drive home the next morning, Cocoa police said.

Hilliard was found the next morning stabbed to death at the Dixie Motel on Forrest Avenue in Cocoa, according to police.

Surveillance video shows the victim and his suspected killer, later identified as Joshua Reece Keravuori, check in to the hotel at 5:35 p.m. According to the affidavit for the arrest warrant, both men were seen on the balcony a few times during the next three hours. Another man came into the room at 9:28 p.m. and left seven minutes later, records show.

Hilliard and Keravuori left the room in Hilliard's car just before 11 p.m., the two returned to the hotel room at 12:45 a.m. and then Keravuori was seen leaving in the victim's Chevy Cruze at 12:50 a.m, according to the affidavit.

Police said Keravuori stole Hilliard's University of Florida Gator's watch, his wedding ring, wallet, cellphone, Ruger 9mm semiautomatic pistol and car.

Hilliard's body was discovered in the hotel room the next morning at 10:50 a.m. by an employee, records show.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials said Hilliard's Chevy Cruze was found later that day, more than three hours away in Hialeah, Florida.

When Cocoa police first arrived, they said they initially thought Hilliard's death was a suicide, because of the position of his body, but when Brevard County Medical Examiner's Office officials attempted to move his body they found more than 20 stab wounds to his stomach and chest.

Through finger prints and security camera footage, detectives said they identified Keravuori as the person in the hotel room with Hilliard when he died.

Cocoa police issued a warrant for Keravuori, who turned himself in to authorities in Alpharetta, Georgia, on Feb. 19, telling them he was wanted for a crime.

"Our dispatchers received a phone call from a bus driver who stated he had an individual on the bus who wanted to turn himself in," Alpharetta Police Officer Jason Muenzer said. "It's unusual that we'd get people turn themselves in for a case such as this."

While police were attempting to get information about the possible crime and asked why he thought he was wanted by authorities, Keravuori said he was out drinking with a man, they were both intoxicated and when they left the bar the man attempted to rape him, according to the report.

"He attempted to rape me and I stabbed him to death," police said Keravouri said.

Keravuori was extradited to Brevard County and booked into jail on Feb. 24. He is charged with first-degree murder and grand theft. A judge ordered him held without bail until trial.


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