A woman’s son found his mother dead at her home near Wabash Avenue on Christmas Eve and now the woman’s husband is under arrest for murder.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives charged 39-year-old Ronald Lockett Jr. of Lakeland with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Shameka Lockett, 39.

According to the arrest affidavit, Lockett’s mother, Juanita Joseph, called Lockett’s’s daughter, who lived in the home with her mother and Ronald Lockett, and asked her to check on Shameka Lockett because she had not been able to reach her to finalize plans for Christmas Day. The daughter tried to get into her mother’s bedroom, but the door was locked from the inside and so she called her brother, Earley Spencer, to come to the home.

Spencer arrived at about 4:30 in the afternoon and used a credit card to jimmy open the bedroom door. He found his mother on the floor with no pulse, cold to the touch and lying in a pool of her own blood.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrived at around 8:30 p.m. and learned that Ronald Lockett was on pretrial release conditions for aggravated battery domestic violence on Shameka Lockett and knowingly driving without a license. He was prohibited from contacting his wife. He violated those conditions when he picked her up from work at around 1:30 a.m. that morning, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Shameka Lockett’s daughter, whose name was not released, told detectives she heard the Locketts enter the home in the early morning hours and also heard them arguing, followed by a noise she described as a “pop.”

During a search of the home, detectives found 27 rounds of ammunition in a crate next to Ronald Lockett’s Florida Department of Corrections identification card. Also located inside the home was a container with a white powder that tested positive for Ecstasy, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Lockett was called and told his wife was dead. When he arrived at her home, detectives questioned him. He said that he had picked his wife up from work and dropped her off at home while he went to stay with his brother. He returned when he was informed his wife was dead, but left shortly afterwards, he told them. 

Another woman told detectives that Lockett had picked her up from work at about 7 p.m. on Dec. 23 and they rode around for a few hours, smoking pot and stopping for food at a Waffle House in north Lakeland. She said Lockett then took her home, saying he had to pick his wife up from work.

At about 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve, the woman found Lockett frantically knocking at her back door. She said he was out of breath, his shoes were muddy and he was panicked. He told her his wife was in Tampa and then went to sleep on her couch. He left later that day when he received a phone call.

An autopsy completed on Tuesday showed Shameka Lockett died from a single gunshot to the head.

Ronald Lockett Jr. is a registered felon who has served two prison sentences, one for battery in 2011, and then again in 2020 for battery, burglary, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and fleeing from law enforcement, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family whose loved one was brutally murdered in her own home during what should have been a season of celebration,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Thursday. “Thankfully, my detectives found the murderer quickly, and put him in jail, where he belongs.” 

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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