Police Discover Ex-Convict Had Received $37,000 From Man He Allegedly Killed

| by Karen Eisenberg
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On Wednesday, Thomas Oakland, 75, was found dead in his Gainesville, Florida home.

Initially, authorities believed Oakland died in a fire, but the findings from the autopsy report reveal that Oakland had been struck in the head and was probably dead before the fire started, according to CBS News.

On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested 37-year-old Stephen Underwood Jr. It is believed that Oakland had a “good Samaritan” type of relationship with Underwood Jr. for many years.

Oakland felt responsible for helping Underwood Jr. get back on his feet. Underwood Jr. had been in and out of jail and is currently unemployed. Authorities believe Oakland gave at least $37,000 to Underwood Jr.  

Sherry Underwood, 48, the disabled wife of Underwood Jr., told authorities that her husband had a large bag of cash that she believes he took from Oakland.

Gainesville Police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said: "She knew he was unemployed and had no funds of his own, and all of a sudden he had a bag of cash."

Apparently the relationship between Oakland and Underwood Jr. became strained after Underwood Jr. was released from prison in December. Oakland contacted the police last month to file reports that he had been defrauded by Underwood Jr., according to the Daily Mail.

Professor Oakland was a Fulbright Scholar and a prominent professor of education. He retired in 2010. He had authored and written many books and hundreds of articles.

Dean of the University of Florida, Glenn Good, said:

"Dr. Oakland was an exemplary world-class scholar in the field of school psychology, and a dedicated teacher, researcher and mentor to his students during his 15 years as a College of Education faculty member."

"We will continue to be inspired by his extraordinary commitment to the college and his profession, his caring and love for his family, compassion for his students and graduates, and his grace and humor."

Underwood Jr. is being held on charges of murder, arson, burglary and grand theft.

Sources: CBS News, Daily Mail / Photo: Daily Mail