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Cold case murder solved more than 20 years later, Florida police say

Published: Thursday, March 09, 2017 @ 11:44 AM
Updated: Thursday, March 09, 2017 @ 11:44 AM
By: Brittney Donovan - ActionNewsJax.com

A Florida man has been arrested and charged in the 1994 cold case murder of a Nassau C0unty teenager.

Police took Ronnie Leon Hyde, 60, of Jacksonville Beach into custody this week in the killing of 16-year-old Fred Laster.

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The nine-page arrest warrant revealed that a bloody flannel shirt, blood-stained knives, a blood-soaked mattress cover and bathtub non-slip safety pads were recovered at a Columbia County gas station where Laster’s dismembered body was found in June 1994.

A medical examiner was not able to identify the vicgtim during an autopsy, but determined that the body belonged to a man between 16 and 19 years old.

Laster’s sister reported him missing in 1995 and said her brother was last seen with family friend Ronnie Hyde, but the case fell through the cracks. It was reassigned to a new detective in 2012 and he contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2013.

But it wasn’t until February of 2016 that Laster’s remains were finally identified. Officials matched the teenager's DNA with that of his twin sister, who they found after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children posted an online article about the case, according to the warrant.

Last April investigators then used garbage left outside Hyde’s Jacksonville Beach home to match his DNA with forensic evidence found on Laster's body in 1994.

The warrant also revealed that detectives confirmed Hyde also drove a Chevy Camaro matching the description of a vehicle an eyewitness saw at the crime scene.

Police said Hyde, who was a youth pastor in the 1980's, kept changing his story about the last time he saw Laster and that he had been a suspect in the murder almost since the beginning.

Because Hyde had access to other children through his work with a Jacksonville church, detectives believe there could be more victims out there. The investigation is ongoing.

Shelby Lin Erdman contributed to this report.