BRANDON Fla. – In the early morning hours of August 12, 2020, Elizabeth Randolph-Padgett had a premonition. Noticing a light on in her backyard shed, she took her shed keys and walked out of her house, which led to the sudden shooting of Clark Preston, her daughter’s boyfriend, who has a history of violence.
“I didn’t know who was in the shed,” Ms. Randolph-Padgett said in a heart-wrenching interview. “I opened the shed door with the key, saw my daughter and Clark, and everything just escalated at that point. He was lunging toward me – moving toward me – and it looked like he was trying to harm me.”
Randolph-Padgett had plenty of reasons to fear for her life and the life of her daughter, Arsund Randolph-Butler.
“Preston served time for badly beating my daughter. He was 280 pounds at the time. He beat her with a fire extinguisher, beat her head in and caused among other things, memory loss. He tried to drown her, stood on her neck and broke it, then tried to drown her again,. He beat her into a stroke,” Ms. Padgett bravely recalled. “Later, he said he wanted her dead. As part of his sentence, he was instructed to never affiliate with us again.”
Preston’s criminal history includes more than just attempting to destroy Randolph-Padgett’s daughter. He was released in 2014 after beating a girlfriend in the face with his closed fist and thereafter assaulting a man who came to the woman’s defense after she managed to escape. Preston slammed a baseball bat into the heroic victim’s head. He was charged with battery, aggravated battery, and possession of marijuana. His history also includes charges of domestic violence by strangulation, aggravated assault against an elderly person, and shooting or throwing a missile at a building or vehicle.
A charge of attempted murder in the second degree and felony battery, reduced to felony battery only, appears to be the case regarding Randolph-Butler, as the sentence included no contact with the victim or victim’s property, which is in accordance with Ms. Randolph-Padgett’s interview. “While serving his prison sentence, he’d call my daughter and vacillate between threatening her and telling her he loved her,” Randolph-Padgett said.
Ms. Randolph-Padgett shot Preston in the stomach and called 911 to report the shooting. The latest she has heard is that he had been in a coma.
She described her daughter’s condition today. “She’s only 44 years old,” she said, “but she looks 80 now. She walks with a cane and can hardly get around. She still has seizures and nightmares. One time when she was talking with a state attorney, she said she didn’t realize how badly Preston had beaten her. I was told he had beaten women 13 different times. The doctors told her she is one more blow to the head away from a nursing home.”
When asked if they were engaged in sexual relations in the shed, which was a statement in a Hillsborough County Sheriff report, she said, “No. I don’t recall that. But I found out my daughter had been to the police station. She doesn’t talk to me about the incident, I don’t talk to her about it.”
When asked her view of her daughter’s choice of men, she replied, “She didn’t use to choose men like this. I told her earlier she would have to leave my house if she took up with Clark again. I am not in a position to deal with this. I take care of my grandchild as it is.”
Randolph-Padgett is a 70-year-old Tampa businesswoman who was formerly a licensed practical nurse. “She said, “You know, if it’s bad enough to leave over, it’s bad enough to stay away.”
Thus far, Randolph-Padgett has not been charged in the incident.