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Third victim dies after Florida baseball bat beating

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A third victim in an unexplained beating by a man wielding a baseball bat died on Wednesday in central Florida, according to local media.

Eddie Ratliff, 51, succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital, according to the Orlando Sentinel, citing Tavares city and police spokeswoman Joyce Ross.

The killings on Monday shocked the small town about 40 miles northwest of Orlando which Ross said rarely sees a major crime.

Ratliff’s mother, Mavis, 66, and sister, Shannon, 42, died at the scene.

According to witnesses and police, Shannon’s boyfriend James Earl Jones, 32, killed the three, then drowned himself in Lake Dora.

Jones’s father told police at the scene that his son was schizophrenic and was not taking his medication.

Michael Woods, the first officer on the scene, reported that he found Jones next to the van holding an aluminum bat with two hands. Woods wrote that Jones dropped the bat when ordered to do so, refused to cooperate in being handcuffed, and started running. His body later floated to the surface in Lake Dora.

Eddie Ratliff was a longtime city sanitation worker described by a friend as a quiet man who liked to go fishing, to yard sales and to help other people.

(Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh)

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