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Lisa S. Gerard

Florida Mom's Worst Nightmare: As she slept, her son waited and "quietly sharpened the axe”

mother and sonPhoto byOmar LopezonUnsplash

Disclaimer: This story was written for informational purposes only. My journey to explore all facets continues- especially beyond tourism in Florida. Let's stroll through the winding backroads of the Sunshine State. Awareness promotes change.

I've lived in quite a few counties here. Enjoyable, all. But, there are dark sides - hidden secrets that emerge to expose ugly. I seek an understanding of tragic events from yesterday or today.

One thing is crystal clear - nowhere is immune to unthinkable acts. I recently left Florida's West Coast and returned to the East. Neither the Gulf nor Atlantic shorelines offer protection from the villainous.


One such tragedy occurred on July 13, 2019, on the West Coast of Florida. Just shy of 11,000 acres with a population of over 7500 - per the 2020 Census, Inverness is the County Seat of Citrus County.

Carlos Hallowell

Single mother, Denise Hallowell, adopted Hallowell from Guatemala when he was four. The young boy excelled in his new mother’s nurturing environment, earning scholastic and athletic achievements.

“From early childhood to early adolescence, the defendant was a happy child."

Hallowell, 11 years old, incorporated the use of alcohol and drugs into his life. He abused and experimented with marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, acid, methamphetamine, and prescription pills. He was expelled from school in January 2019.

Nineteen-year-old Carlos Hallowell, 17 at the time of the murder, was found guilty of killing Denise Hallowell in their Inverness, Florida home, according to the Citrus County Chronicle. On July 13, 2019, Hallowell attacked his mother with an ax while she slept.

After the murder, Carlos Hallowell told detectives that dogs barking woke him from a nap. He found his mother dying.

“Here we had a mother, who was brutally murdered in her bedroom during the night by her son,” Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said in a press release. “All the forensic evidence and interviews pointed to the only other person inside Denise’s home that night, her own son.”

Hallowell denied involvement until his confession revealed the truth. He claimed his mother planned to cut him off financially when he chose a technical college instead of a four-year school. Hallowell said his mom berated him over his decision.

“That really hurt,” Hallowell told investigators, according to the Chronicle. “She let me have it, big time … telling me I’m a worthless piece of s--t because of what I want to do.”

In the subsequent investigation, divers searched a nearby lake and found Denise Hallowell’s iPhone and three security cameras taken from the home.

Citrus County Circuit Court Judge Richard “Ric” Howard announced the order Tuesday, Sept. 14, finding Hallowell is an “incorrigible offender” who can never be rehabilitated.

Though charged as an adult, Hallowell wasn’t eligible for the death penalty as a minor (17) when he plunged a full-sized axe into the back of his mother's head as she slept. Hallowell faced a prison term of between 40 years and up to life after jurors in July found him guilty of Denise Hallowell’s premeditated murder.

Hallowell addressed the court:

“Although she’s not with us, I know she’s listening,” he said. “Mom, I’m so very sorry. Words can’t describe how I feel right now, how much I miss you, how sorry I am for what I’ve done and everything I’ve done throughout my entire life with you. … I love you so much.”

“Your honor, the only thing I ask is for justice for my mom, and mercy for me.” - Hallowell

Hallowell will spend the rest of his life in state custody for murdering 57-year-old Denise Hallowell on July 13, 2019.

“The defendant took a long time to plan his attack ... until victim had taken a nap,” the judge said. “All the while, quietly sharpening the axe in his room.”

Help for Mental Illnesses NIMH

National Institute on Drug Abuse | Treatment

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Citrus County Chronicle
OXYGEN True Crime
Citrus County Sheriff | Facebook

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