BY RICH SHOPES, TAMPA BAY TIMES
TAMPA -- Friends and family of Anthony Jerome Lee, who gained a following performing as drag queen Wanda in South Beach, Tampa Beach and elsewhere, said they were breathing easier after a man was arrested in his murder over the weekend.
According to Tampa police, Deandre Tolliver, 23, of Lakeland was one of three suspects who arrived at the East Tampa home Lee was staying at on May 28. While two stayed in the car, one knocked on the door.
Lee answered the door, and was forced back inside. During a struggle, Lee, 49, was shot, police said.
Tampa police did not return calls Sunday to explain more fully the circumstances of the killing and Tolliver’s alleged role in it.
As mourners gathered Saturday for Lee’s funeral at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, word spread that police had a suspect in custody.
“Today we laid him to rest and GOD answered my prayers and TPD did their job,” Lee’s sister, Barbara Lee-Thomas, wrote in a Facebook post. “My GOD will answer prayers.”
Tolliver, who has a violent criminal past and recently went on felony probation, faces first-degree murder and robbery charges.
In Tampa, Lee was a regular at Hamburger Mary’s, a Ybor City restaurant where “Wanda” performed, often appearing on the small stage decked out in a blond wig and glittery gowns to lip-sync to Whitney Houston.
“I was just shocked,” said Hamburger Mary’s owner Kurt King, who had known Lee for 22 years.
Miami Herald Staff Writer Steve Rothaus contributed to this report.