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Hate crime stabbing murder in broad daylight


“Underserved” man chases white female service worker down the road and stabs her death in broad daylight.


A 25-year old Lakeland woman working as a service coordinator for a health management company was chased down a Dade City street and stabbed to death by one of her clients as witnesses looked on Monday, according to Dade City police.

Steffanie Ross was stabbed multiple times with a butcher knife.

Lucious Smith, 53, who has a history of violent and erratic behavior, has been charged with first-degree murder and is in the Pasco County jail.

Earlier this year, Ross worked as a paraprofessional at Lakeland High School, where she graduated in 2005.

“Sweet comes to mind immediately when I think of her,” Lakeland Principal Tracy Collins said Tuesday. “She was a beautiful young woman with a very bright future ahead of her.

“She was a selfless person, and as tragic and horrific as this death is, she was doing what she felt called to do.”

The chief operating officer for Maryland-based Integra Health Management, Dee Brown, said Ross began working for the company in September as a service coordinator.

“Our staff goes to the homes of those who are the most underserved in our society,” Brown said. “We don’t provide direct treatment. We encourage them to go to their primary care physicians and take their medications as prescribed.”

Officers said Ross arrived alone at Smith’s apartment at 37020 Coleman Ave. about 11:30 a.m.