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Man charged with murder in ex-wife's death, Osceola County deputies say

Cops: Woman found dead in motel room

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Osceola County sheriff's deputies arrested a man Thursday they say killed his ex-wife and left her in a Kissimmee motel room.

Thomas Pettit was arrested on charges of first-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife Susan Emmerich.

"He didn't do it cause he hated her. He's just sick and the situation was a bad situation," said Pettit's daughter.

She is one of two women who is left grieving the loss of their mother and arrest of their father.

Pettit's son-in-law, Robert Rigsbee, told Local 6, Pettit had just recently come back into their lives and had been staying with Emmerich and his daughter until just a few days ago when he booked a room at the Budget Inn. It is where deputies said an argument would turn violent.

"Even when I went to the hotel, they really didn't know what happened, but they said it was a little bloody situation," Rigsbee told Local 6.

Rigsbee is now helping his wife and her sister cope.

It is news that is not only leaving a family stunned but a neighborhood. One father who didn't want to be identified told Local 6 he called 911 on Pettit just this week when he says he saw him passed out on a fire hydrant in their neighborhood off Park Forest Loop in Kissimmee.

"Either he needs help or something is wrong," he said. "I know kids get out of school bus around 4 o'clock, so that's when I said, 'Let me try to get in contact with somebody,' so I called the Sheriff's Office."

Two days later, Pettit would be arrested for murder, allegations that his daughter said could stem from something else, "My dad is mentally ill and he's off his medication for a month now and he's an alcoholic."

During the investigation, deputies found Pettit's vehicle in a ditch on East 192 and Pettit at the wheel, appearing to be intoxicated. He was taken to the hospital, where he became combative and struck a deputy, according to the report.

Pettit was arrested and charged with driving without a license and battery on law enforcement officer.

Deputies then questioned Pettit in connection to the murder investigation and obtained a felony warrant for his arrest on first-degree murder Thursday.

The medical examiner's report indicated Emmerich died from blunt force trauma.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.