by Mike Roche

The Darin and Kim Campbell family lived in a rented 1.6 million dollar Tampa mansion, the former home of retired tennis star James Blake. The house sat behind the gates of the prestigious and very private Avila development, which was populated with multimillion-dollar homes and occupied by celebrity powerbrokers and athletes. The neighborhood centerpiece was an exclusive private golf course. Darin Campbell, 49, was a business executive at VASATEC, a digital records management services company. His wife, Kim, 51, was a stay-at-home mom, who was active in the community and at her teenagers’ school. The Campbell children, Megan, 15, and Colin, 18, attended the prestigious Carollwood Day School. Megan was an honors student and dancer. Colin, who had just attended his senior prom, was a talented student and baseball player.

dar11In the predawn hours of what would have been a springtime morning in 2014, neighbors of the Campbell’s frantically summoned the fire department as they watched in horror as the opulent home became engulfed in flames. As firefighters battled the blaze, they discovered a grisly scene. Four unidentified bodies were located inside the house. Investigators quickly determined the fire was the result of an arson and the victims were killed by gunshot prior to the fire destroying the home.

dar6Despite the outward appearance that the Campbell’s were the all-American family, there were cracks in the façade. Investigators have learned that in the days prior to fire, Darrin Campbell made several rather unusual moves. First, he purchased several gas cans at a home improvement store at about 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 4th. An hour later, he bought over $600 worth of fireworks. The sales clerk at the fireworks store noted no unusual behavior from Darrin. On Tuesday, the day before the fire, he filled the gas cans at two separate service stations. He had already previously purchased a handgun in 2013.

dar10Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Colonel Donna Lusczynski said, “Darrin Campbell, with the gun that was registered to him, systematically shot his son, his daughter and his wife in the head. He then placed fireworks throughout the residence. Used an accelerant to assist in lighting the fire. Lit the fire and then shot himself.”

*     *     *     *     *

Darrin and Kim Campbell moved from Michigan to Tampa in 2000 with their children. They built a home in an upscale neighborhood not far Tampa Airport. Their mortgage was a formidable  $546,000. In 2003, they acquired a vacant lot in another affluent development north of Tampa for $338,000. Darrin and Kim were thriving economically. They paid off the mortgage on the lot and sold the land for a handsome $160,000 profit in 2006.

dar14During the Christmas Holidays, the Campbell family home was so lavishly decorated that the pleasing display drew crowds from neighboring communities. For four consecutive years, the home won honors as the “Best Decorated Holiday Home.” The family’s electric bill rose $800 during the holidays and they accepted donations to defray expenses. The Campbell’s then donated the $3,733 in donations to Metropolitan Ministries, a homeless support shelter for indigent families.

At the height of the real estate boom, the couple bought another vacant lot for $294,000 in the same development where their previous vacant lot was located. Although they still owned the new lot at the time of their deaths, the market had soured and the property was now worth one-third of the original purchase price. A lien was placed on the lot due to $7,800 in unpaid homeowner’s association fees. They eventually paid off the lien, but their financial struggles continued, and they were continually delinquent on their property taxes. They refinanced their house several times before selling it in 2012 for $750,000. The Campbell’s made a profit on the deal, but their overhead expenses continued to be steep. Their next big move was to move into the former Blake residence in the Avila estates.

dar15Darrin Campbell was on the board of Carrollwood Day School, and served as treasurer. He formerly was a senior vice president at PODS, a shipping and storage container company. In 2007, Darrin took a position as vice-president at IVANS, an insurance company. After it changed ownership, he became the chief operating officer (COO) at VASTEC, where he recently took a leave of absence. The rent on the former Blake home was estimated to be a tidy $5,000 a month for the 5,000 square foot home. The base annual tuition for Carrolwood Day School was approximately $34,000 for the two children. The additional cost of books, uniforms, various fundraisers, and other educational expenses had to be a drain on the Campbell family checkbook. And of course, college tuition loomed on the horizon with Colin scheduled to graduate in a month.

Darrin Campbell’s mother, Mary, told the Daily News she was searching for answers. “I have no idea what happened. I spoke to him last night.” (the night before the conflagration). Family friends and neighbors heaped accolades on the entire family. It was obvious that they were well-respected and loved within the community.

We rarely have the opportunity to gaze behind the veneer of the façade our neighbors, or even our relatives, erect. We see what they allow us to see, and they often successfully conceal what’s really going on, especially if they have serious issues.

dar13After conducting an extensive examination of the arson scene, investigators are still searching computers and papers found in the home. Interviews of family and friends may uncover ripples, or even violent rapids, sullying the appearance of calm waters. Interviews with employers both past and present may also shed light into Darrin Campbell’s employment stability or any possible inappropriate behavior. A financial audit will reveal the magnitude of the family’s financial problems.

The further up the ladder one ascends, the more difficult it becomes to step down when one’s personal wheel of fortune descends. One of the top ten stressors in life is finances. As individuals become overwhelmed with financial stress, the pressure often intrudes into both their domestic life and their employment. The negative emotional vortex sucks many formerly successful individuals into a life of despair from which they see no way to escape. They view alternatives (translated as a substantially reduced standard of living) as a stamp of failure.

Two-thirds of those who engage in targeted violence and mass murder have contemplated or attempted suicide in the past. When immense personal darkness clutches at these people, their thought processes and judgment become clouded. They become convinced that their family will have to endure the grief of their loss and the humiliation of their tarnished legacy. As a result, they view killing their family as an act of altruism.

darDarrin Campbell will now be labeled as a family annihilator. These killers are most often men. In 2012, a study of 313 murder/suicides by the Violence Policy Center found that 90% of the killers were male. Most multiple-victim, murder-suicides involving a male murderer and three or more victims are perpetrated by family annihilators.  69% of murder-suicides falling into this category were perpetrated by family annihilators.  Family annihilators are murderers who kill their intimate partners and children, as well as other family members, before killing themselves.  USF Professor, Dr. Donna Cohen, states that in over a third of these cases, the annihilator starts a fire to cover their crime leaving only ashes. She feels that this is an attempt to deny access to their personal lives.

As surviving friends and relatives of the Campbell family struggle with the grief of this tragic loss, they are left to contemplate the lost contributions that Kim, Megan, and Colin would have provided to the world.


Please click here to view Mike Roche’s previous posts:

The Grisly Details of Serial “Mall Killer” Mike DeBardeleben’s Actions Will Never Be Known

Family Annihilator Darin Campbell Murders His Family and Torches Lavish Tampa Mansion

Alex Hribal Was Desperate and Said He Wanted Someone to Kill Him

Columbia Mall Shooter Darion Aguilar Followed the Model of Notorious Mass Murderers

Peter Lanza Speaks: The Lethal and Unvarnished Truth about His Son Adam

FHP Officer Jimmy Fulford Fields Pipe Bomb Intended for Young Mother with His Bare Hands and Dies Instantly

Fire Department and California Highway Patrol Go 9 Rounds: Win, Lose or Draw?

The Boston Bombers: A Tale of Two Troubled Brothers

Don’t Text at the Movies, The Life You Lose May Be Your Own!

Killers and the Catcher in the Rye

mikeMike Roche has over three decades of law enforcement experience. He began his career with the Little Rock Police Department, and spent twenty-two years with the U.S. Secret Service. The last fifteen years of his career were focused on conducting behavioral threat assessments of those threatening to engage in targeted violence. He is the author of three novels and two nonfiction works on mass murder and also rapport building. Retired, Mike is currently a security consultant at Protective Threat LLC, and an adjunct instructor at Saint Leo University. He resides in Florida with his family.

Mass Killers: How you Can Identify, Workplace, School, or Public Killers Before They Strike

Face 2 Face: Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide

The Blue Monster

Coins of Death



3 Responses to Family Annihilator Darin Campbell Murders His Family and Torches Lavish Tampa Mansion

  1. Diana says:

    Not only is it sad, but it is a despicable act perpetrated by a coward. If you want to commit suicide because of your downfall, do so. But don’t take your family down with you. Look at the one man (I can’t remember his name) who killed his wife and children in cold blood, wrote a lengthy note and burned the house down, only to be found years later with a whole new “family” living a wonderful life. I mean, what did the second family have that the first one didn’t that allowed them to live when their predecessor’s weren’t allowed that luxury?
    In my eyes these men, and women are absolute cowards! If they don’t want to live or feel like losers they should just kill themselves and be done with it. This way they wouldn’t devastate and entire family and the most likely cause of the problems would be removed. Just saying.

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      I agree completely, Diana. “In my eyes these men, and women are absolute cowards! If they don’t want to live or feel like losers they should just kill themselves and be done with it. This way they wouldn’t devastate and entire family and the most likely cause of the problems would be removed. Just saying.”

      And you say right!

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Hi Diana,

      PLS check your email when you have the chance and THX very much for your generous review of CICERO’s DEAD.


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