Unknown Laralee Spear Killer- Florida- 1994 Dec 18, 2020 4:26:40 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Dec 18, 2020 4:26:40 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: volusiasheriff.org)
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal (news-journalonline.com) (2019 article):
Deerfoot Road had been insulated from violence before April 26, 1994.
It was known to be a tranquil place. The rural, narrow dirt road leads to a lakeside park where wildlife roam.
Twenty-five years ago, an abduction and a series of gunshots radically changed the complexion of that tucked-away location near DeLand.
Violence appeared at Deerfoot and no one knows who brought it there.
Laralee Spear, 15-year-old DeLand High School freshman, was shot to death moments after getting off her school bus. Her body was found on a concrete slab behind a burned-out house about 200 yards from her home and about a half-mile from her stop at the corner of Deerfoot and South Spring Garden Avenue. Her murder remains unsolved.
“This child got off the bus at 3:15 (p.m.) and at 5:30 (p.m.) we find her,” said Volusia County Sheriff’s Detective Steve White, the agency’s lead cold case detective. “It’s just unbelievable to me that could happen in that location so fast (to) a child who’s not involved in any activities that would put her in danger.”
PHOTOS: Cold Case of Laralee Spear’s Killing
The full chronology of that afternoon has Spear getting off her bus at 3:15 p.m. Her mother, Barbara Spear, reported her daughter missing at 4:05 p.m.
Eight minutes later, deputies were dispatched to the Spear home. They showed up eight minutes after that and started searching.
At 4:59 p.m., deputies in Air One, the Sheriff’s Office’s helicopter, joined the search party.
At 5:35 p.m., one of those deputies in the air saw a body lying behind the abandoned house. Those on the ground confirmed the girl’s identity.
White was working as a detective in the New Smyrna Beach office at the time. During the next few days, he and other detectives from the east side were ordered to assist in the Laralee Spear investigation. Everything else was put on hold.
“I came into work the next morning and it was, ‘Grab your stuff. You’re (temporary duty) in DeLand until they release you,’ ” he said. “My office, the Ormond (Beach) office all got together and we went over to DeLand and got our assignments. We did neighborhood canvassing for a week.”
More than 1,000 leads were called in during that first month after the murder. The case still wound up cold.
Detectives were told by the girl’s mother that it was out of character for her to wander off by herself. If she took any additional time to walk home, it was only to spend a few extra minutes to get a closer look at her neighbor’s horses. The Sheriff’s Office concluded early in the investigation that someone attacked Laralee Spear during her walk — when she was out of sight from the Spring Garden intersection.
It was estimated by one of the detectives working on the case that she had walked 200 yards before encountering her killer. He also concluded Spear was dead within 25 minutes from when she got off the bus.
Ralph Henshaw, who retired from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office about a decade before the murder, is now a volunteer investigator with the agency’s Cold Case Unit. He was recruited by former sheriff Ben Johnson for the purpose of delving into the Spear case.
He has absorbed every detail.
“The bus driver (saw) her get off,” Henshaw said, recalling what witnesses told detectives. “She didn’t seem to have any problem. There was no on around the area (who looked) strange.”
A small group of people were selling plants near Spear’s stop. They watched Spear get off the bus and head toward her house. They noticed nothing suspicious.
A neighbor in one of the half-dozen or so houses along Deerfoot often would sit outside in his wheelchair in the afternoon. On this particular day, he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t come outside, Henshaw said.
There is no telling what he would have seen or heard had he been outside. Either way, there was one fewer set of eyes on that street.
“She walked by like she did every day, every school day, and nobody (saw) her after that,” Henshaw said.
Laralee Spear was an elite student. She was a cheerleader and a member of the Keyettes, a school service organization. She sang in her church choir and played piano. She was known to be a wholesome girl. She had a reputation for being punctual. Her principal called her a model student.
“She was an exceptional young lady,” Henshaw said.
Someone far below exceptional became the focus of the investigation in November 1994.
Bobby Allen Raleigh, a high school dropout, was charged in the double murder of two men in DeLeon Springs. The victims were slain six weeks after the Spear murder. The two men were asleep in a trailer when Raleigh and his accomplice, Domingo Figueroa, shot them in their sleep. They kept shooting the second victim until their guns jammed. After realizing the victim was still alive, Raleigh took his gun and beat the man until he stopped breathing.
While in jail awaiting trail for the double murder, Raleigh allegedly told an inmate he had killed Spear. That’s what the State Attorney’s Office disclosed to the media. Raleigh was indicted for first-degree murder in the Spear case.
For the DeLeon Springs double murder, Raleigh was convicted and sentenced to death row, where he remains to this day. His accomplice is serving a life sentence.
Raleigh, who was 20 at the time of his arrest and is now 44, seemed resigned to his fate in the double murder. By comparison, he was adamant he had nothing to do with the Spear killing. A special prosecutor who was later assigned to the case agreed. He dropped all charges against Raleigh in 1998.
Today, no one associated with the case seems to have any lingering suspicions about Raleigh.
“I don’t look at him as a suspect at all,” Henshaw said. He and Sheriff’s Sgt. A.J. Pagliari interviewed Raleigh face-to-face a few years ago and didn’t come away thinking he had anything to do with Spear’s murder.
“There was not enough then to pursue him criminally and there is nothing that has changed since that time to make us think he is at the top of any persons of interest list,” Pagliari said.
White and Pagliari said 66 people have been investigated since the start of the case. Pagliari indicated that nobody has emerged as a suspect.
“Has anything come to light that says this person is more of a suspect than somebody else? No,” he said.
Thirteen years after the murder, in April 2007, the Sheriff’s Office held a media conference with Virginia “Ginny” Spear, Laralee’s younger sister. She helped deputies distribute fliers to DeLand-area homes and businesses. It was a media blitz to get the case back in the news and on the minds of residents in the hopes it would induce someone to come forward with information. Those efforts came up empty.
Any forthcoming break in the case, according to the Sheriff’s Office, would likely come from the forensic side. Any future advances in forensic technology could be beneficial to the investigation. Pagliari declined to be more specific.
The girl’s parents, David and Barbara Spear, were out of town and unavailable for an interview. They have seldom spoken publicly about the case. Henshaw said he remains in contact with them.
When Henshaw was recruited to join the Cold Case Unit as a volunteer, Johnson drove him to the crime scene. Those who investigate old, unsolved cases often develop an attachment to the victims of those cases. Henshaw feels that connection with Spear. It started to form during that ride with Johnson years ago.
“He took me in his own car down to the crime scene and showed me where it was at,” Henshaw said. “We were hoping, and still are, that we will solve this case.”
Anyone with information about the Laralee Spear murder case is urged to call the Cold Case Unit at 386-254-1535.
Thoughts? The above article is from May 2019. However, as of this posting date (December 18th, 2020), Laralee's case is still sadly listed as an unsolved murder on the Volusia County Florida Sheriff's Office website: www.news-journalonline.com/news/20190509/cold-case-murder-of-laralee-spear-15-perplexes-detectives-25-years-later
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