Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives have made an arrest in the homicide of 24-year-old Courtney Bright, charging the father of Ms. Bright’s girlfriend, Jerry Lee Seger, DOB 2/13/70
, of Lakeland, with one count First Degree Murder.
According to the affidavit, detectives interviewed several friends and acquaintances of the victim’s after her body was found dead as a result of strangulation in a foreclosed home located at 3510 Knights Station Road in Lakeland. One of the first people the detectives identified and interviewed was Ashley Dunn, DOB 1/24/87, who is currently in the Polk County Jail on a warrant from Jackson County. Detectives learned that Dunn and Bright have been dating for approximately the past three years. Dunn gave the detectives the names and phone numbers of her and Bright’s friends. Dunn also told detectives that she and Bright had been at the house on Knights Stations Road (where Bright’s body was found) in the past to hang out with friends, and because they knew the previous owner of the house through Dunn’s father, Jerry Seger.
Detectives also interviewed Bright’s next-of-kin, her grandmother Mary Bright in Marianna, Florida, who gave them a list of phone numbers that Courtney Bright had most recently used from which to call her. With these phone numbers and the list of names from Courtney Bright’s girlfriend Ashley, detectives were able to follow the last days of Courtney Bright’s life.
On Friday, April 23rd, detectives interviewed a friend of the victim’s, Shawn Thompson, who told them he last heard from the victim on Tuesday, April 20th. Shawn said that Courtney called him and asked him for money and a place to stay. After the phone call, Jerry Seger (Ashley Dunn’s father) and another man, Rabon Strain, came over to Thompson’s house. After discussing with Seger what happened with Ashley and why she was in jail, Seger then asked Thompson if he had heard from Courtney Bright recently. Thompson then told him about his most recent telephone conversation with Courtney, and that he was going to pick her up and give her some money. At that point, Seger told Thompson he would go get the victim instead, and give her a bus ticket to leave town. Thompson did not call Courtney to tell her the change in plans. Thompson did not see Seger again until later that evening, and on April 22nd, but Seger did not mention Courtney on either of those subsequent occasions.
On Friday, April 23rd, detectives also interviewed Rabon Strain, who had accompanied Jerry Seger to Thompson’s house and later when he picked up Courtney Bright on April 20th. Strain said that in his presence Seger made several statements about Courtney, such as that he blamed his daughter Ashley’s arrest on her, and that he never liked her. He also told Strain that he was going to kill Courtney. According to Strain, throughout Tuesday, April 20th, Seger continued to drink alcohol and make spontaneous statements that he was going to kill Courtney. After Seger picked Courtney up on US Hwy 98, Strain asked Seger to take him to a friend’s house, where he was going to attempt to calm Seger down. However, after dropping Strain off, Seger drove away with Courtney in the car.
Jerry Seger called Rabon Strain about one-and-a-half hours after dropping him off at a friend’s house and told him he needed to talk. When Jerry got there, Strain noticed some women’s clothing and shoes, and a wallet, in the back of Jerry’s Ford Explorer. When Strain asked what happened to Courtney, Jerry told him that he had killed her by strangling her, and that he had disposed of her body. Strain tried to get Jerry to tell him where Courtney was so he could go check on her, but Jerry refused. Jerry Seger then told Strain not to tell anyone about what he had done. The victim’s clothes and wallet were also seen by the friend whose house Strain was at, and later by Jerry Seger’s girlfriend when Jerry went home.
The medical examiner determined during the autopsy which was conducted on Friday, April 23rd, that Courtney Bright died sometime during the evening hours of Tuesday, April 20th, or Wednesday, April 21st. She was also found wearing no clothes, except a pair of socks, with a T-shirt over her head.
Based on the sworn witness statements and the evidence recovered at the scene, detectives obtained a warrant for the arrest of 40-year-old Jerry Seger, of 4429-A Stirrup Road in Lakeland, charging him with First Degree Murder, and placed him under arrest on Saturday, April 24, 2010. He has been booked into the Polk County Jail where he will remain under no bond until a first appearance hearing on Sunday. Jerry Seger has been in the Polk County Jail on 12 previous occasions, on charges such as: Possession of Meth, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cannabis, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Paraphernalia, Grand Theft, Forgery, VOP, No Valid DL, and Non-Payment of Child Support.