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 January 28th, 2011  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces arrest in December murder of Ashley Pollow
 
Today, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara announced the arrest of 33-year-old Thomas J.  Barnard (DOB 11/11/1977), of Vero Beach, for first degree murder in the December slaying of 58-year-old St. Lucie County tax attorney Ashley Pollow.

Barnard is confined at the Broward County jail after the Broward Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshals task force arrested him in that county at his mother's home.

The Sheriff said Barnard's girlfriend, Michele Lochridge, 38 (DOB 4/11/1972), of Vero Beach, is currently confined at the Indian River County jail on unrelated charges. She will also be charged in connection with the Pollow homicide.

On Dec. 7, deputies discovered Pollow's decomposing body locked from the outside in a storm shelter in his back yard. A neighbor who had not seen Pollow in several days had called authorities.

Sheriff Mascara said Barnard and Lochridge were employees of Pollow. The investigation revealed that Barnard strangled Pollow to death on Nov. 28, 2010. That day, when Barnard and Lochridge were at Pollow's home, the body was rolled up in a rug and dragged outside to the storm shelter. The body was placed inside the shelter, and a drain cleaner called "Liquid Lightning," which contains sulfuric acid, was poured onto the body in an attempt to eliminate physical evidence, Sheriff Mascara said.

An autopsy by the Treasure Coast Medical Examiner's Office determined that Pollow had been strangled to death.

The Sheriff said Barnard killed Pollow Nov. 28 because Pollow was threatening to report that Michele Lochridge was stealing from him. She was then, and is now on probation for grand theft.

Here is the statement Sheriff Mascara gave at a news conference today:

ON DECEMBER 7, 2010, AT APPROXIMATELY 4PM, ST. LUCIE COUNTY DEPUTIES RESPONDED TO 6405 OLEANDER AVENUE IN REFERENCE TO A WELFARE CHECK ON THE OWNER OF THE RESIDENCE, ASHLEY POLLOW. A CALLER TO 911 REPORTED NOT HAVING ANY CONTACT WITH ASHLEY POLLOW SINCE AROUND THANKSGIVING.

RESPONDING DEPUTIES FOUND NO ONE AT THE HOME.  FURTHER SEARCH OF THE HOME AND THE PROPERTY REVEALED A DECOMPOSING BODY WITHIN A STORM SHELTER BEHIND THE HOUSE.

ON DECEMBER 8, 2010, AN AUTOPSY OF THE BODY IDENTIFIED IT AS ASHLEY POLLOW. THE CAUSE OF DEATH WAS DUE TO MANUAL STRANGULATION AND THE DEATH WAS RULED A HOMICIDE.

IN THE SUBSEQUENT INVESTIGATION, A SEARCH OF ASHLEY POLLOW’S FINANCIAL RECORDS REVEALED THAT CHECKS WERE CASHED BY MICHELE LOCHRIDGE, AN EMPLOYEE OF ASHLEY POLLOW. ON DEC. 3, 2010, MICHELE LOCHRIDGE ATTEMPTED TO CASH A CHECK FOR $1,250 AT A SUNTRUST BANK. THE BANK DID NOT CASH THE CHECK BECAUSE THE SIGNATURE WAS NOT CONSISTENT WITH ASHLEY POLLOW’S SIGNATURE.

IN A FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW WITH MICHELE LOCHRIDGE, SHE SAID SHE LAST SAW ASHLEY POLLOW NOVEMBER 26, 2010, SHE SAID SHE RETURNED TO THE POLLOW HOME ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2010. SHE SAID MR. POLLOW WAS NOT THERE, AND SHE ASSUMED HE WAS IN COURT. SHE STATED THAT THE $1,250 WAS PAID TO HER IN ADVANCE OF HER WORK WEEK, AND WHEN THE BANK DID NOT CASH THE CHECK, SHE DID NOT RETURN TO THE POLLOW HOME.

THE INVESTIGATION DETERMINED THAT MICHELE LOCHRIDGE HAD A LIVE-IN BOYFRIEND, THOMAS BARNARD, 33. AN INTERVIEW OF THOMAS BARNARD REVEALED THAT HE SPENT FRIDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 26, 2010, HAVING DINNER AND DRINKS WITH MR. POLLOW. HE CONFIRMED THAT HE DROVE MR. POLLOW HOME, DROVE MR. POLLOW’S CAR HOME AND THEN RETURNED IT THE POLLOW HOME THE NEXT DAY, SATURDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2010, WHERE HE AND POLLOW HAD MORE DRINKS AND SMOKED MARIJUANA TOGETHER.

THOMAS BARNARD ADMITS RETURNING TO THE POLLOW HOME WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2010 AND FINDING MR. POLLOW MISSING. AT NO TIME DID EITHER MICHELE LOCHRIDGE OR THOMAS BARNARD BECOME CONCERNED ENOUGH OVER MR. POLLOW’S DISAPPEARANCE TO CALL AUTHORITIES.

IN AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHELE LOCHRIDGE, SHE SAID THOMAS BARNARD ADMITTED TO HER THAT HE KILLED ASHLEY POLLOW ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2010.

HE ADMITTED THAT HE HAD CHOKED ASHLEY POLLOW IN THE FRONT OFFICE OF THE HOME.

MICHELE LOCHRIDGE SAID POLLOW'S OFFICE WAS IN DISARRAY AS IF A STRUGGLE HAD OCCURRED. A DRIED, THICK, RED SUBSTANCE WAS ON THE FLOOR NEXT TO THE BED. OUR INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT STAIN WAS CONSISTENT WITH BLOOD.

THE REASON THOMAS BARNARD GAVE FOR KILLING ASHLEY POLLOW WAS THAT ASHLEY POLLOW WAS GOING TO REPORT MICHELE LOCHRIDGE TO AUTHORITIES FOR STEALING FROM HIM. THOMAS BARNARD ALSO STATED HE AND HIS GIRLFRIEND WANTED TO TAKE OVER ASHLEY POLLOW’S BUSINESS AND THIS WOULD BE AN EASY WAY TO DO IT.

THOMAS BARNARD WAS REPORTED TO HAVE USED LIQUID LIGHTNING DRAIN CLEANER, WHICH CONTAINS SULFURIC ACID, TO POUR ON THE BODY TO DISPOSE OF ANY EVIDENCE.

OUR INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THOMAS BARNARD PURCHASED THREE BOTTLES OF LIQUID LIGHTNING DRAIN CLEANER ON NOVEMBER 28, 2010. TELEPHONE RECORDS CONFIRM HIS WHERABOUTS BUYING THE CHEMICALS AND RETURNING TO THE POLLOW RESIDENCE.

OUR INVESTIGATION DETERMINED THAT ON NOVEMBER 28, 2010, POLLOW'S BODY WAS DRAGGED INTO THE STORM SHELTER WHERE IT WAS DOUSED WITH LIQUID LIGHTNING DRAIN CLEANER.

THE NEXT DAY, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2010, BARNARD AND LOCHRIDGE RETURNED TO THE POLLOW HOME AND WORKED THERE, SPEAKING WITH SOME OF POLLOW'S CLIENTS.

LAST NIGHT (JANUARY 27), THOMAS BARNARD WAS ARRESTED IN BROWARD COUNTY AT THE HOME OF HIS MOTHER. HE IS CHARGD WITH FIRST-DEGREE MURDER. MICHELE LOCHRIDGE REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR HER ROLE IN THIS CASE.  * * *

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