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Florida man drowned after killing mother with hammer before the Hurricane Irma hit, police say

Lance Whatley, 40, allegedly killed his mother, Katie Whatley, 67, with a hammer before committing suicide by drowning.

(St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office)

A Florida man drowned moments after killing his mother with a hammer in the night before the Hurricane Irma made landfall in the state, police said Wednesday.

The badly decomposed body of Lance Whatley, 40, was found on Sept. 13, the day after the Hurricane Irma hit the region, the Palm Beach Post reported. Whatley was reported missing after his mother, Kathie Whatley, 67, was found dead at River Park Marina on Sept. 9, the Pc. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said.

Mystery surrounded their death for months as authorities tried to piece together of the night the mother-son duo was last seen together.

Authorities said Monday that Whatley, who was suffering from a chronic mental illness, hit his mother in the night before the Hurricane Irma made arrive as a Category 3 hurricane, the Palm Beach Post reported. He drove his car into the North-Folk of the St. Lucie River and committed suicide by drowning, researchers said.

“They would have to come home from her place of work and drive him the entire night, in an attempt to calm him down,” St. Lucie Sheriff Ken Mascara said. “From the statements we have taken, he was so excited about this storm coming — we came to the conclusion that he simply will not be able to remain calm. They went over the River and the Park Marina, where an argument ensued, likely due to her frustration, trying to calm him down from the storm, and the result is that he killed her.”

A hammer covered in blood was found lying next to Kathie Whatley the body. The part under the car was also nearby.

Lance Whatley’s body was discovered the water brought in by Hurricane Irma was receding in Rivergate Park.

“The body was in a decomposing state and was also missing a head and both hands, most likely from exposure to the elements and the Hurricane Irma, making identification extremely difficult,” Mascara said.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter via @bykatherinelam

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