Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF anthropologist to help exhume unidentified St. Petersburg murder victims

ST. PETERSBURG — They are the coldest of cold cases, murders committed decades ago. But when authorities exhume the bodies of three victims next week, it won't be in a last-ditch effort to finally solve their murders.

Instead, their graves will be reopened in the hopes that those victims can finally be identified.

That's why University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle will be helping the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office unearth the bodies at Memorial Park cemetery on Wednesday.

Kimmerle is an expert in helping law enforcement identify skeletonized remains.

"If we can identify these individuals and bring closure to their families," police Chief Chuck Harmon said, "then I certainly think that's something we should do."

All three victims are buried at Memorial Park cemetery at 54th Avenue N and 49th Street. The general manager, John Bunnell, has agreed to exhume the bodies at the cemetery's expense.

In the days leading to the exhumation, investigators will use ground-penetrating sonar to pinpoint the graves. Then on Wednesday, they'll start digging them up.

Then investigators will collect DNA samples from the bodies to be submitted to the FBI lab matching against the National Missing Persons DNA database.

Since 2001, the database has been indexing DNA from biological relatives of missing persons, the missing themselves and unidentified human remains.

Here are the cases police will re-examine:

• An unidentified white woman, 30 to 35 years of age, was found Oct. 31, 1969, dressed in a "flimsy green nightgown," according to The Evening Independent. She was wrapped in plastic and left inside a steamer trunk beneath a tree near the old Oyster Bar Restaurant near 4200 34th St. S. The woman was beaten and strangled. She was about 5 feet 9 and 130 pounds. There were no suspects in her death. St. Petersburg police Sgt. Bill Carlisle told the Independent that whoever killed her may have wanted her to be found.

• A white teenage girl, reportedly named Maria, who was shoved into the path of an oncoming vehicle during an argument with Lawrence Edward Dorn on June 9, 1973. The girl, who was 14 to 17 years old, reportedly had been in town only a few weeks and was from the Carolinas. Dorn was charged with manslaughter, but the case was later dropped for reasons that could not be determined Thursday.

• Two men shot to death in Room 15 of the Siesta Motel at 701 34th St. N on April 26, 1980. One victim was identified as Jack Roy Davis, 40, of Knoxville, Tenn. The other never was identified. Police had a suspect in the case, a 39-year-old Tennessee man named Kyle Coy "Cowboy" Watson, according to St. Petersburg Times archives. But he was gunned down by his girlfriend four months after the murders.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

USF anthropologist to help exhume unidentified St. Petersburg murder victims 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater Marine Aquarium receives $500,000 gift

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — The R.O. Jacobson Foundation donated $500,000 on Tuesday to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's major expansion.

    The Clearwater Marine Aquarium received a $500,000 donation from the R.O. Jacobson Foundation toward its $66 million expansion.. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  2. Arrests made in Spring Hill bank robbery; suspect admits to others


    SPRING HILL — Two men from Alabama were arrested Wednesday after Hernando County deputies said they robbed a Spring Hill bank.

    John Goff, 46, was arrested Wednesday after deputies said he admitted to robbing a Spring Hill bank, as well as others in Florida.
  3. Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. [Associated Press]
  4. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue


    With Friday's opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  5. Bowen: Humanitarian Roy Hardy raised hope, diminished hunger


    The lines on Roy Hardy's resume are simple: retailer, rancher, amateur barbecue chef, recreational fisherman.

     Philanthropist Roy Hardy, shown here in 2007, stirs up the baked beans at a Kiwanis club charity fish fry. Mr. Hardy died Sept. 19 at the age of 93.