Last week, Linda Albers Caccavale got a phone call at her home in Long Island, N.Y., from a stepsister she never knew she had.
After 41 years of searching for her father, Caccavale was found instead by Ira Albers' two other daughters. But what should have been a thrilling moment was instead bittersweet. The two women had to tell Caccavale that Albers was dead.
Albers, known as Ed, was shot in the leg and bled to death in the driveway of his north Tampa home about 6 a.m. June 22 as he warmed up his station wagon for the drive to his daughter's business.
Tampa police have no suspects and no idea why someone killed the 67-year-old retired truck driver. Albers was best known in his quiet, tree-lined neighborhood as the "bike man," because he spent most of his days fixing bicycles for neighborhood kids.
Wednesday, Albers' family gathered at the white-shuttered house on E Navajo Avenue with a lead detective in the case, Sgt. George McNamara.
"I believe there was someone in the neighborhood who saw something or who has heard something," McNamara said. "We're hoping through the media to jar some residents' memories . . . we need some help."
In the small carport where Albers used to clean bike rims and fix reflectors, his family sat in a half-circle of lawn chairs, still visibly stunned by "Pops' " inexplicable murder.
Albers' youngest daughter, Dixie Liberty, had the idea for the news conference.
"I'm pushing this because I'm so angry," said Liberty, 33. "I hope this is working on someone's conscience. . . . I hope they saw him on TV, all full of blood."
Liberty said she has called Crime Stoppers, a service provided by WTVT-Ch. 13 and coordinated through the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, in the hope that a televised re-enactment of the murder will elicit clues from viewers.
She also has left messages at the offices of the TV show Unsolved Mysteries and plans to circulate fliers about the murder.
At Albers' funeral Tuesday morning, three sailors from the Orlando Naval Training Center presented Albers' 72-year-old widow, Clara, with a U.S. flag. Albers served in the Navy as a young man. He was buried beneath a tree in the "honor core" section of Sunset Memorial Gardens, north of U.S. 301.
Caccavale, 48, Albers' newly found daughter, flew to Tampa the night after her father was killed to attend the funeral.
"I'm glad I finally have my answer," Caccavale said. "But I had so many more questions."
Caccavale said Albers left her and her mother, Albers' first wife, when Caccavale was 7.
Albers' other daughter, Nancy Sanney, found a letter from a Salvation Army missing persons program in her father's desk two days after his death. Sanney, 37, said the letter was dated May 18, though the program had told Caccavale it gave up the search earlier this month.
Clara Albers said she felt close to Caccavale almost immediately after she arrived from New York with a large green suitcase and a thick Bible.
"I guess it's because we all had the same love for him," Mrs. Albers said.
Anyone with information about the killing can contact Sgt. McNamara or Detective Gene Black at 274-5842.