A woman with an extensive criminal history of violence is facing a manslaughter charge in connection with the stabbing death of a homeless man in Spring Hill. Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced the charges against Regina Ritter, age 36, at a February 14 press conference in Brooksville. Nienhuis said that shortly after 4 pm on February 11, deputies from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) responded to a call about a stabbing at the homeless camp in the wooded area behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, located at 4780 Commercial Way in Spring Hill.
At the scene, they found a man who had sustained several stab wounds to the chest. The man received first aid from deputies and Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES) personnel and was taken to an area trauma center for further treatment.
According to witnesses, Ritter, who did not reside in the homeless camp, but was an acquaintance of the victim, began a verbal argument with him just before the stabbing. “Witnesses said that the victim, in this case, was never aggressive in any way and that they were arguing, but it was totally verbal,” Nienhuis said. “During the altercation, witnesses said that Ritter actually stabbed the victim.”
After the stabbing, Ritter left the scene on foot. A member of the HCSO K-9 unit later found her bicycle leaning against a tree nearby, he said.
A patrolling deputy who had Ritter’s cell phone number was able to catch up with her via phone. During their conversation, she said that she was lost in the woods. Deputies subsequently found Ritter in a wooded area near Hoffman and Bluewater avenues, Nienhuis said.
A preliminary investigation revealed that Ritter was wanted on a writ of bodily attachment from Citrus County for failure to pay child support. Investigators also learned that the woman had a history of criminal violence, including an arrest for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, felony possession of methamphetamine, theft, felony driving with a suspended driver’s license, domestic battery, possession of paraphernalia and violation of a domestic violence injunction.
“So, she was taken into custody under that writ of bodily attachment, and after the interview, detectives started to conduct a search of Ritter’s bag and located a bloody knife that we believe was used in the stabbing,” Nienhuis said. “We did serve a search warrant at her house, and we did obtain additional evidence.”
At approximately 5 am on February 12, the victim of the stabbing died at the hospital.
“He had some significant injuries in the chest area, and they were not able to save him,” Nienhuis said.
Autopsy results are still pending. As a result, Ritter was charged with manslaughter and is being held at the Hernando County Detention Center on a $30,000 bond, he said. The case remains under investigation.
Finally, Nienhuis encouraged victims of domestic violence to follow through on charges connected to it.
“I think most people would argue that (Ritter) should not have been on the street with her extensive criminal history, but the only way we can prevent these things is to make sure that these people are off the street,” he said. “So we want to encourage particularly victims of domestic violence to follow through with those charges.”