Melbourne woman killed mother with decorative item, police say

Stefanie Dobson charged with second-degree murder

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A Melbourne woman was arrested this week after police said she bludgeoned her mother to death with an Asian-style decorative statue and told at least two people she wanted her mother dead.

Police said Susan Dobson was killed the morning of Jan. 13 at her Harvard Apartments home on South Babcock Street.

Stefanie Dobson, 38, told Melbourne police officers she found her mother dead the night of Jan. 13 after coming home from a day out shopping with her daughter.

Investigators determined that Susan Dobson died of blunt force trauma to the head and that the murder weapon was likely a resin "elephant or Asian-style decor" item, part of which was never recovered. Pieces of the statue were found in the victim's hair and embedded in her left hand, indicating she tried to defend herself against her attacker, the medical examiner later determined.

Stefanie Dobson’s daughter called 911 after finding her grandmother, but Dobson took the phone after they connected with a dispatcher.

“My daughter and I just walked in and it looks like our house got broken into and my mom’s on the floor, dripping blood,” Stefanie Dobson said.

“She could have fallen, she passes out a lot,” she said.

Detectives noted in the arrest report that nothing was taken from the victim's apartment and that $500 in cash was found in her purse, leading them to believe that robbery was not the motive. Stephanie Dobson's bloody footprints were found throughout the apartment, according to the report.

Stefanie Dobson's daughter told detectives that, on the morning of the murder, her mother told her to go for a walk so she could speak with her grandmother. The daughter initially said she came home from the walk and saw the victim before leaving with her mother for the day, but later said she did not return home until the body was discovered that night.

The suspect's daughter was gone for at least an hour before her mother picked her up and took her shopping and to the movies for the day, according to the report.

Detectives said they also spoke with two friends of Stefanie Dodson's who said she made statements two weeks before her mother's death that led them to believe she wanted her mother dead.

A friend told detectives that Dodson said "she wanted her mother dead," and another person told the same friend that Dodson has asked him two times to kill her mother. She made the request a week before her mother was killed, the report shows.

Friend Brian Officer said Friday Susan Dobson was a kind neighbor and a loving grandmother.

"She was very quiet neighbor, just trying to live a quiet, peaceful life in the community," Officer said. "It's very difficult to process. I've just been thinking about it the whole weekend. It's affected my daughter as well because she was friends with the granddaughter."

Detectives arrested Stefanie Dobson on Thursday on charges of second-degree murder. She is being held in the Brevard County Jail without bail.

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