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Incarcerated Sexual Predator Suspect Attempts To Put Hit on Witness in his Case

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A fifty-six-year-old man was arrested for attempting to hire someone to murder a witness in his case.
James Peter Houllis was arrested in July of 2023 for sexual battery, kidnapping, and human trafficking after police found a runaway female teen living in his home. The teen had met Houllis through a dating app and signed an agreement that stated she had to perform sex acts for food and housing.

In January of this year, Hernando County Sheriff’s detectives received information about Houllis asking other inmates in the detention center where he was being held to help him find someone to kill a witness in his case. Houllis offered $10,000 to $15,000 and his Mercedes Benz to have the witness killed.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Houllis provided the inmates with extensive information about the witness. The information included maps, the witness’s name, date of birth, physical description, work location, and the time the witness went to work.

When Houllis was asked about his plans to kill the witness, he denied it, claiming he was “only joking” and made statements saying that if the witness disappeared, most of his case would “be done.” Houllis was charged with solicitation to commit murder and is being held at the the Hernando County Detention Center on no bond.

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Shortly after his arrest in July 2023, Houlis was charged with witness tampering as he contacted the victim via his “jail mail account” and by phone, urging the victim not to cooperate with law enforcement and to drop the charges, even though he was under a no-contact order with the victim in his sexual battery case. He did not stop contacting the victim after being charged with witness tampering, again contacting the victim by jail mail and by phone. His phone/message privileges were revoked at that time.

Houllis’ pretrial is scheduled for May 15 at 9 a.m. He also underwent a psychological evaluation on April 18.

Hanna Maglio
Hanna Maglio
Hanna Maglio is a writer and photographer at the Hernando Sun. She is currently studying journalism at the University of Florida.
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