October 25, 2012

Sheriff’s Office features missing persons, unsolved cases on Facebook

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office hopes social media will help reinvigorate long unsolved cases and perhaps help people remember details which might help solve a few of them.

The cases will be posted on a new “Florida Keys Missing and Unsolved” Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Florida-Keys-Missing-and-Unsolved/187864244671823?ref=hl ). People can “like” the page, and visit it to read about those who have gone missing over the years and have never been found, bodies that remain unidentified, or unsolved murders and other major crimes which still need resolution.

These types of cases are never truly closed and continue to be worked on by detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit. Detectives revisit the cases as they have time. They double check old leads, make sure DNA  and other information is entered in today’s databases, check with family members, recheck names of those involved, doing anything they can to move the cases forward.

“We hope by featuring these cases on Facebook, someone will see them and maybe remember something that will help us,” said Major Crimes Unit Sgt. Linda Mixon. “Maybe someone who was originally reluctant to cooperate has grown up, or changed their mind; maybe someone heard from a person reported missing and just didn’t think to let us know. Stranger things have happened,” she said. Sgt. Mixon has the job of making sure old cases are assigned to current detectives and that they spend time becoming familiar with them. She also asks that they touch base with family members to let them know the Sheriff’s Office hasn’t forgotten them.

The first three cases to be entered on the Facebook page will be:

Lisa Sanders, 20 years old,  murdered in 1988 on No Name Key

Lisa Sanders was just 20 years old when she was brutally murdered on No Name Key December 16th, 1988. Lisa lived on Big Pine Key. She was  a small woman, just 4’10 inches tall, 106 pounds when she died.

That night, she attended a party with friends at the end of No Name Road on No Name Key. Her friends last saw her leaving on foot about 9:30 p.m.

Her parents reported her missing the following day and a short time later, her body was found lying beside a dirt road near a gravel pit on No Name Key. She had been beaten, stabbed and dragged behind a car by a rope tied around her neck.

Since that time, hundreds of people have been interviewed by detectives and her case continues to be investigated but no one has yet been charged with the crime. Major Crimes Sgt. Linda Mixon has been assigned to this case. Anyone with information about it can contact her at 305-797-0089.

Patty Lanza, 4 years old, murdered on Little Torch Key in 1988

Patricia Lanza was just four years old on July 2, 1988 when she was murdered. Patty had attended a fourth of July party with her mother at a home on Gato Road, Little Torch Key. She was last seen by her mother at 10 p.m. Her body was found nearby the following afternoon. She had been raped and hit in the head, then her body was thrown in some bushes off the side of the road.

Several hundred people have since been interviewed in relation to the case. A man who was at the party admitted to being with Patty, but said she was alive when he last saw her. He was arrested shortly after the crime on charges of false imprisonment, but the charges were later dropped for lack of sufficient evidence. He died the following year of natural causes. His DNA was later tested and he was excluded as a suspect in the crime.

No one has ever been arrested for her murder. Anyone with information about this case should contact Major Crimes Detective Geni Hernandez at 305-809-3040 or 305-797-0046.

Unidentified Valentine’s Day murder victim, murdered on Bahia Honda in 1991

On February 15, 1991 the body of a young woman was found on a short, dirt trail in a heavily wooded area near the south end of the Bahia Honda Bridge. She had been beaten and strangled.  

She has never been identified, and was given the nickname by the media of the “Valentines Day” murder victim. She is described as a white female, 16 – 25 years of age, 145 pounds with brown eyes and straight, collar-length dark brown hair. She had a Timex wristwatch with a silver band on her right wrist, and four earrings in each ear. She was wearing a pink, peach and aqua bikini top, a pair of denim shorts and a long sleeve sweater that had broad horizontal purple and rose colored stripes. On her feet were a pair of Indian moccasin type booties that were black with red stitching. She had two tattoos which you can see drawings of by clicking on the flyer accompanying this report. One was a heart with the word “Love” in cursive on her upper left arm. The other was a cross on the web of skin between her thumb and forefinger of her left hand.

Detectives have exhausted the few leads they had in this case, but hope someday someone will come forward to help identify this victim so they can continue their investigations into who may have killed her. Contact the Sgt. Linda Mixon with the Major Crimes Unit if you have any information which might help in this case, 305-797-0089.

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