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Parents blame Tallahassee police in death of Pinellas woman

From,  By  Stephanie Garry, Times Staff Writer 

Parents blame Tallahassee police in death of Pinellas woman

Irv Hoffman and Margie Weiss wondered Friday how their only child went from police informer to murder victim.

Rachel Hoffman, 23, who grew up in Pinellas County and recently graduated from Florida State University, was found dead in a rural area near Tallahassee two days after she disappeared while helping police with a narcotics investigation.

On Friday evening, her parents gathered with friends in their daughter’s Tallahassee apartment. They railed against the Tallahassee Police Department for putting their daughter in harm’s way and then blaming her for getting killed.

"It’s like sending a lamb into the den with the lions," said Irv Hoffman, 58, of Palm Harbor.

Before Rachel Hoffman disappeared, Weiss remembered getting a call from her daughter, who planned to come home for Mother’s Day.

"She asked me to pray for her," Weiss said. "She was going to do something that was dangerous."

Hoffman’s parents wondered why police allowed a young woman with no police training to make such a dangerous rendezvous. So far, many of their questions have gone unanswered.

Last year, Hoffman was charged with felony marijuana possession. Then, she failed to appear in court. Her parents think she felt pressured to help police to clear her name.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, police announced Friday that Hoffman faced multiple felony charges when she agreed to pose as a buyer. On Wednesday, she was supposed to purchase 1,500 pills of ecstasy, 2 ounces of cocaine or crack cocaine and a gun.

Police said she didn’t follow protocol, leaving officer supervision to go with Andrea J. Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, now suspects in her disappearance and her death. Green has spent time in prison on charges of selling marijuana and aggravated assault with a weapon.

"Unfortunately, Rachel chose to ignore precautions established in a previous briefing as well as the direction of her case agent," police Chief Dennis Jones said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Green and Bradshaw on Thursday in Orlando, according to the Democrat. On Friday, they led police to Hoffman’s body and were charged with armed robbery and kidnapping.

A graduate of Countryside High School in Clearwater, Hoffman majored in psychology at FSU. Later, she realized her passion was cooking and planned to go to culinary school in Arizona.

Hoffman’s father described her as an affectionate person who loved her cat Bently and sought thrills: skydiving, traveling in Europe and the Middle East, parasailing, even riding in a hot-air balloon.

"In 23 years she probably did more than most people do in 60 years," Irv Hoffman said.

Weiss, of Safety Harbor, said the marijuana possession was a minor offense that shouldn’t have landed her in such trouble.

"They destroyed her whole life and her future," Weiss, 57, said. "My daughter’s life has been taken away from me."

Stephanie Garry can be reached at (727) 892-2374 or [email protected].