Jerry Lee Seger, 40, an enraged father who allegedly blamed 24-year-old Courtney Bright for leading his daughter down what he felt was the wrong path—including a three-year lesbian affair - strangled Bright to death and left her body in an abandoned house, say Lakeland police authorities.
In the days before the murder, Seger’s daughter Ashley Dunn had been arrested for dealing in stolen property. Homicide detectives say that Seger blamed his daughter’s lover for her arrest, also admitting to a friend that he hated the victim he is now accused of killing.
But friends of the lesbian couple think the hatred went deeper than that.
“That’s not why he killed her. He killed her because they were lesbians,” Bobbi Johnson told local station WTVT. Johnson said Dunn and Bright had been together for three years and were inseparable.
An autopsy determined that Bright had been killed April 20 or 21. Bright was found dead in a closet on the second floor of a foreclosed home. She was wearing only a pair of socks and had a T-shirt over her head. Investigators determined that she died of strangulation.
One witness who came forward apparently saw Seger with Bright the evening she disappeared. He also confided in detectives that Seger had been drinking alcohol on the night of the murder, and had suggested to him that he would kill Bright.
Another one of Bright’s friends, Shawn Thompson, said he told Seger and another man, Rabon Strain, on Tuesday where Bright was. Seger then said he would pick up Bright and give her a bus ticket to leave town, according to the police arrest affidavit. She was never seen alive again.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Seger and charged him with first-degree murder. He is being held without bail.
“She was a sweetheart. She would do anything in the world for you,” said Johnson to WTVT.