“We know that somebody out there knows something and we also know there is still talk about what happened,” tells Annette Durden.
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — At the corner of Fred Waters Way & Spring Street in St Augustine sits candles, flowers and a plaque. A memorial for the two lives lost there.
“We know that somebody out there knows something and we also know there is still talk about what happened,” tells Annette Durden, standing with family at the memorial.
It was a very different scene at that corner the morning of November 16th, 2016.
“It is going to be that investigation that I take to my grave,” tells Sgt. Michal Ochkie with the St. Augustine Police Department.
Sgt. Michal Ochkie says it is her only unsolved case and she remembers the scene that November morning well. As firefighters put out the flames of the burning the Dodge Journey, two bodies were found inside.
Charles Durden and Staffon Larry.
Both had been shot, the vehicle then set on fire. Investigators were initially hopeful that cameras from a nearby business could offer some clues.
“They put up surveillance, but they hadn’t set it to where it actually recorded,” explains Sgt. Ochkie.
Officers canvassed the area and found neighbors that said they heard gunshots, but didn’t see much else. The fire destroyed much of the physical evidence and so far what little they could test for DNA has always come back to the victims and not a suspect.
As for a motive, with two victims, Sgt. Ochkie says that becomes more difficult
“Because then you are trying to figure out were they both a target? Or was one a target and the other was just at the wrong place at the wrong time?” she explains.
Not knowing who or why has weighed heavily on the men’s families.
Annette Durden says she was told she would never have children, but Charles was her miracle baby. Her only child. A young man that loved basketball and testing out the food as his mom and aunt cooked. He was also a father of two boys.
“He was a proud daddy and very responsible father,” tells Annette,” He loved his kids and would do anything for those two boys.”
While the family is trying to stay strong for the children, Annette’s sister, Frankie Mae Williams, says it hurts to still be mourning her nephew and see the pain Annette is in.
“I hear her in the room crying sometimes at night and I go in there and pray with her because prayer changes things and I told her God will work things out no matter what,” tells Frankie Mae.
Staffon Larry had moved to St. Augustine from the Tallahassee area a few years prior. His sister, April Mariani, says Staffon was a hard worker, nice person and she can’t imagine why someone would kill him.
“That’s why I have a hard time with this because he is not a bad person that would go around doing all kinds of things for this to happen,” tells April.
She says she never heard Staffon talk about Charles, so she isn’t sure how the two met or how long they had been friends, but people need to speak up.
“It is so heartbreaking because nobody deserves that, you know?” says April.
Annette believes it had to be somebody close, she says Charles would not have let someone in the car he didn’t know well.
“The person or persons that did this to these two young men, they are still out there living their lives. They are with their kids. My grandkids don’t have their father, they took that from them,” tells Annette with tears in her eyes.
Sgt. Ochkie says to close this case she is going to need help from the community. Either by calling in information not revealed before or just listening if people bring up the murders.
“Somebody is going to talk eventually and that is what we need,” tells Sgt. Ochkie,” We need the community to keep their eyes and ears open for us and then have the courage to pick up the phone and call so we can at least look into it.”
If you know anything about this double murder, please contact the St. Augustine Police Department at 904-825-1070 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-845-TIPS(8477)
For more resources about cold cases or to look at the cold case database, visit www.projectcoldcase.org.