BRADENTON BEACH, Fla. — Sabrina Marie Dumdei was scared when police officers went to her Florida home one night this summer.
Her boyfriend, Zachary John Winton, refused to let her out of his sight and made ominous threats of what would happen if she left their Bradenton Beach residence.
“Leave and see what happens,” Winton, 34, told the 37-year-old Dumdei as he grabbed her by the face and held a knife to her throat, according to court records.
A momentary lapse in Winton’s careful watch allowed Dumdei to call 911, summoning help to their home on Anna Maria Island.
“Upon my arrival, (Winton) was yelling and walking at (the) victim with a large kitchen knife I observed in his right pocket,” a Bradenton Beach police officer wrote in the Aug. 31 arrest affidavit.
The threats continued after Winton had been removed from the scene and taken to the police station.
“Winton made numerous threatening remarks about what he was gonna do when he gets out to the victim, such as, ‘I will kill her. She’s gonna pay,’” the affidavit states. "'If I get charged with felonies, I’ll kill her, then myself.
“'I will cut her throat.'”
Winton may have made good on that promise over the weekend. Police officials said Dumdei’s father grew concerned when he could not reach his daughter.
When he went to the couple’s triplex at 2514 Ave. C on Saturday afternoon, he peered in a window and saw his daughter’s body.
“He broke a door window to gain entry and found her on the floor,” Bradenton Beach police Chief Sam Speciale told the Anna Maria Island Sun.
Winton was also dead in what investigators are calling an apparent murder-suicide. Authorities did not specify who did the killing.
“This is probably the most gruesome crime scene I’ve ever worked – the worst in 37 years that I’ve ever seen,” Bradenton Beach police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz told the Sun. "It’s going to be really hard to put together what occurred, what the chronological events were that led up to the actual deaths.
“Going through the crime scene and photos, I’ll try to put something together, but it’s going to be speculation because there’s no witnesses and nobody saw anything.”
Reporters outside the house, which had been unoccupied except for Dumdei and Winton, wrote of bloody handprints on a sliding-glass patio door. Photos by Sun and Bradenton Herald reporters showed dried blood on the glass and a violent spray of blood on a deck chair on the couple’s balcony.
Speciale said it was unclear at the scene how Dumdei and Winton died. Autopsies were performed Monday, but authorities had not released the details as of Tuesday morning.
“We’re just trying to piece the whole scene of what occurred as best we can,” Diaz told the Herald. “But right now it appears to be a murder-suicide.”
A history of domestic violence
The couple’s neighbors told the Sun they heard none of what led to the couple’s deaths over the weekend but said the Dumdei and Winton could often be heard arguing. Court records back up the witness accounts, including domestic violence arrests for both Winton and Dumdei over the approximate seven-month span of their relationship.
Diaz told WFLA in Tampa that police had last been called to the couple’s home on Oct. 12, five days before their bodies were found. The sergeant responded to the call, in which Dumdei said Winton had taken her keys and she felt threatened.
“When I pulled in she said, ‘No, never mind, we don’t need it,’” Diaz told the news station. “That is what she told dispatch, so I left. Probably three hours later, my officers responded again, and I told them to make sure and do a report.”
Details of the second Oct. 12 police response were not available.
Read the Aug. 31 affidavit for Winton’s arrest below.
Winton’s Aug. 31 arrest, which led to felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, battery and tampering with a witness, was not his first. Police were called on Aug. 8 to a home on Bristol Bay Drive, where the couple lived at the time, after Winton punched Dumdei in the face during an argument.
According to police reports, she suffered bruises and broken blood vessels in her right eye.
Winton also had a bruise to his left eye.
“The victim stated that the defendant struck himself in the face after striking the victim, as the victim threatened to notify law enforcement,” an arrest affidavit states.
Dumdei declined to press charges.
Manatee County court and arrest records show Dumdei was arrested July 19 at the Bristol Bay Drive residence for misdemeanor battery. According to her arrest affidavit, the couple was sitting on their porch when an argument broke out.
Dumdei threw a can across the table at Winton, striking him in the lip and causing a cut and swelling to the inside of his mouth.
“Mr. Winton stated that he and Ms. Dumdei were then standing on the porch when she began punching him several times in the chest with a closed fist,” the affidavit states. “Mr. Winton did not have any marks or injuries on his chest.”
Dumdei was arrested, but Winton declined to press charges against her.
Court records indicate Dumdei had a DUI arrest in October 2018. When a breath test was administered, it registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.331, which is more than four times the legal limit. She was also in possession of 21 clonazepam pills without a prescription.
The drug charge was dropped in January 2019 and she pleaded no contest to the DUI. A judge sentenced Dumdei to probation.
Following Winton’s Aug. 31 arrest, a stay-away order was issued to keep the couple apart. A judge on Sept. 15 lifted the order at their request.
Members of both the Dumdei and Winton families are struggling to come to terms with their deaths. Dumdei’s sisters, Crystal and Jennifer Dumdei, told WFLA that they want their sister to be remembered for the “good, amazing, fun, loving, sweet and beautiful woman that she was.”
“We want her to be remembered by the positive, not these unfortunate last few months of her life,” Crystal Dumdei told the station.
Sabrina Dumdei was a well-liked hairstylist on Anna Maria Island. A friend and co-worker, Kim Morin Skardoutos, wrote on Facebook that Dumdei brought a smile to everyone she met.
“You are beyond beautiful and kind, and this world will miss you,” Skardoutos wrote. “We will miss seeing you at work. It will never be the same.”
Crystal Dumdei also shared her sorrow on social media.
“Rest easy, my gorgeous, sweet, caring, loving, smart, funny, amazing sister,” she wrote on Facebook. “Words can’t describe how much I miss you and forever will.”
She referenced the sisters' brother, Nick Dumdei, who was struck and killed by a pickup truck in 2003. He was 12 when he died.
“Take care of Nick for us,” Crystal Dumdei wrote.
Winton’s sister, Wendy Winton, asked for “all the love and prayers for (her) family.”
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself and her brother.