Friends mourn longtime St. Pete social activist slain in her home01/29/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday
A well-liked social activist in St. Petersburg has been found murdered inside her home on 17th Ave. North.
According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, 54-year old Paula Whitthaus was found dead along with her 67-year old male roommate after what a department press release described as a brutal attack.
The exact cause of death hasn’t been determined yet, but police say there was upper body trauma. A suspect has not been identified, but investigators say the attack does not appear to be random.
Other community activists took to Facebook late last night to remember Witthaus including St. Pete City Council members Darden Rice and Amy Foster who the activist supported through grassroots efforts during the recent election.
Witthaus was most known for her work toward universal healthcare. The activist became involved in efforts to ensure healthcare for all after her partner of 18-years succumbed to an illness he could have been cured of had he had health coverage. She also became involved in efforts to help people in poverty by securing a grant for a South St. Pete food pantry.
Dozens of St. Petersburg activists are banding together to find ways to honor Witthaus. The group has nominated the woman for St. Petersburg’s iconic woman of the year in the category of community service.
Friends say Witthaus is survived by a brother, but aren’t aware of any other family. Friends are organizing a candlelight vigil for Witthaus on Friday at 7pm at her residence at 2840 17th Ave. North in St. Petersburg.