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Man, Apparently Upset Over Divorce, Kills One, Hold Former Wife Hostage

October 29, 1985

LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) _ A man apparently upset over his divorce killed his former wife’s boyfriend, wounded the woman and then held her hostage on the former boyfriend’s porch for 90 minutes Monday, police said.

The standoff ended when a sheriff’s deputy dressed in an emergency medical technician’s outfit, another police officer and the assailant’s daughter came to the porch - ostensibly to check up on the wounded woman - and wrestled the gunman into submission.

Hoyt D. Grace, 50, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first- degree murder, armed burglary and false imprisonment, said police Sgt. Melvin Waldron.

Howard E. Martin, 50, died from a .38-caliber wound to the neck. Grace’s ex-wife, Joan Grace, 44, underwent surgery at Lake Wales Hospital Monday evening for a bullet wound to the neck and was listed in critical condition, Waldron said.

″This divorce had been preying on his mind. It was an obsession,″ said police Detective E. H. Hendrix. ″He coudn’t accept the fact that she had another man. He would follow her, just like he followed her today. It’s the eternal triangle.″

Grace allowed his 18-year-old daughter Brenda, Hendrix and Jim Madden, a Polk County Sheriff’s deputy, to approach the porch of Martin’s house where he was holding his wounded ex-wife hostage.

″Grace allowed me, Madden and his daughter to check out the wife, at which time Madden approached him from the front and everybody else teamed up to get the gun away from him,″ said Hendrix.

Hendrix said there had been several previous incidents in which police had to be called in when Grace had engaged in fist fights with Martin over Ms. Grace. Martin once accused Grace of vandalizing his car, Hendrix said.

″The suspect and Mrs. Grace have been divorce 5 to 6 months,″ Hendrix said. ″The ex-husband found her at the victim’s house. He broke in the back door armed with a .38-caliber handgun. He confronted the subjects in the house.″

Martin and Ms. Grace were each shot in the neck after which Grace called his daughter. Police were then notified.

Grace, a laborer at Wales Industries, a citrus plant, was denied bond and was to be transported to the Polk County Jail Monday night, Hendrix said.