POLK, CO. Fla. (WFLA) – Investigators released disturbing new details Wednesday in the murder of an elderly woman in Polk County. A manhunt for the suspect is still underway.
Deputies say 30-year-old Taiwan Blandin killed the 80-year-old woman in Frostproof on Tuesday. The daughter of the victim spoke with 8 On Your Side and identified her as Peggy Schiering.
In a news conference Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said a “bizarre” and “tragic” chain of events started early Tuesday morning in Fort Meade.
Judd says it all started when Blandin broke into a home in Fort Meade while an 18-year-old girl was asleep inside. The victim told deputies Blandin was standing naked in front of her when she woke up and told her he was going to sexually batter her. The sheriff says Blandin then pulled a knife on the girl, put it to her throat and made her perform oral sex on him.
“He rounded up four firearms from the residence as well,” Judd said. “Two handguns and two rifles.”
Blandin is then accused of “hog-tying” the victim, wrapping her in a blanket, putting her in his car and taking off.
“She said they left Fort Meade and went toward Frostproof,” Judd said. “And she said before we got to Highway 27, he turned on some dirt roads that she didn’t recognize…and he stopped at a dirt path.”
When Blandin stopped at the dirt path, Sheriff Judd says he got out and opened a gate, then got back in his car and drove behind some bushes to a mobile home that was not visible from the road.
The victim told deputies Blandin then went to the front door of the mobile home and knocked.
“She said an elderly lady came to the door with white hair. They had a conversation and (Blandin) went into the residence with her,” the sheriff said.
At that point, deputies say the 18-year-old had freed herself and got into the front seat of the car to take off back toward Fort Meade. She told deputies she pulled into the neighbor’s yard across the street from where she lives so she could use their phone. Blandin still had her cell phone on him, deputies say.
The 18-year-old said just moments later, Blandin pulled in driving the red van she saw outside the elderly woman’s home in Frostproof. Judd says Blandin jumped out of the car and started shooting at the girl, who started running away.
“While he’s shooting at her, he shoots an 81-year-old lady sitting in her wheelchair. It hits her in the foot,” Judd said.
Blandin then jumped back into his own car and took off, Judd says.
When detectives got to the scene to start investigating what happened, the 18-year-old told them she knew who Blandin was. Judd said during his news conference the girl told them Blandin went to school with her boyfriend.
Deputies were then sent to the home where Blandin allegedly took the red van. When deputies got there, Judd says there was smoke in the house because Blandin tried to set it on fire.
When they got inside, deputies say they found an 80-year-old woman who had been shot twice and killed.
“After he executed her, he piled plastic bottles and some kind of cloth on top of the stove and turned the stove on in an effort to set the mobile home on fire,” Judd said.
“As we arrived at the scene, we saw a blood trail coming out of the house and we saw a big patch of blood on the ground,” Judd added. “What we discovered through our investigation is he not only shot and murdered this 80-year-old woman in her home, she was holding her baby – her 10-year-old dog Kelly.”
Kelly survived but suffered a broken foot and lacerations from a bullet that went through her. Kelly is now being cared for by a vet and will be returned to the family of the victim.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an absolute total disregard for life,” Judd said. “But Taiwan Blandin for whatever reason – and we do not know what that reason is – went on a killing spree and a sexual battery spree yesterday.”
Blandin is still at large. Deputies do not know where he is but believe he was last near Macon, Georgia.
“So we trailed him out of the state. Doesn’t mean he’s still out of the state, we don’t know where he is,” Judd said.
The sheriff says Blandin has had conversations with his two siblings – a brother who is a bailiff with the sheriff’s office and a sister. Judd referred to both siblings as good people.
During those conversations, the sheriff says Blandin told his siblings he didn’t want the cops to attempt to find him. Judd says Blandin threatened to kill himself or shoot the officers who come after him.
“He’s dangerous. When a man quits caring about himself and is ready to commit suicide, when he’s ready to commit suicide by cop – or said if the cops come to me, I’m going to shoot them – we take him at face value,” Sheriff Judd said. “Our prayer is that he turns himself in. Our prayer is that if he doesn’t turn himself in, that when we find him he peacefully surrenders.”
“But make no mistake about it,” Judd added. “He has put us on notice that he is capable of killing himself or engaging us in a gunfight. And if he does not surrender peacefully and he points a gun at us, we will shoot him a lot. That’s a promise. These law enforcement officers aren’t going to hurt themselves or get hurt.”
Detectives have obtained a warrant for Blandin’s arrest for first-degree murder.
Neighbors who knew Schiering, the 80-year-old who was murdered, say she was beloved.
“She would give you the shirt off her back if you just ask for it. You don’t have to take it from her. She didn’t deserve that,” Eric Schofstoll said.
The sheriff’s office says Blandin is 6 feet tall and weighs around 190 pounds. He is reportedly driving in a dark red 2011 Chevy Cruz with tag NAGK37.
Blandin’s car was spotted on traffic cameras in the Lakeland and Aburndale area on Tuesday.
If you see Blandin, Sheriff Judd urges you not to approach him, but call 911 immediately.