JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – All of the evidence collected at the Jacksonville Beach home belonging to Ronnie Hyde, the man accused of murdering 16-year-old Fred Laster in 1994, is on its way to labs out in Quantico, Virginia.
This news comes shortly after the Jacksonville Beach Code Enforcement told First Coast News that they will be delivering a notice of violation to Hyde while he’s in jail over his unstable home. If he fails to take action, they will take their code enforcement case against him to a Special Magistrate to make the last step, like condemnation of the home.
The unsanitary conditions at his home in Jacksonville Beach could play a number of factors in the FBI’s search for evidence.
Michael Knox, a local crime scene expert, analyzes crime scenes for attorneys when cases go to court. He says unsanitary conditions, like the fact that Hyde has been using his bathtub as a toilet, are not uncommon in cases like this so agencies come prepared.
“There could be evidence hidden beneath that because that would be a good place to discard evidence in the hopes that no one would go looking there,” Knox said.
Knox says scenes that are considered hazardous or contaminated can slow down a search. Agencies like the FBI have to make sure investigators aren’t harmed in the process. Once all of the evidence is collected - and in this case loaded onto U-Haul trucks to be taken away - he says it’s then all triaged, separated into categories and sent to different labs for analysis.
“It may even be multiples, you may have to send it for DNA and finger prints and hair and fibers, so you have to figure out the sequence, what’s going to be the least destructive and what’s going to be the most destructive, you don’t want to send it for fingerprint processing but in the process you get rid of hairs and fibers,” Knox said.
Just like there are labs with different purposes, there are investigators with different jobs.
“Crime scene investigators that are collecting evidence, crime lab people who are doing analysis on evidence, you also have investigators out there themselves knocking on doors," he said.
There are others agents involved too, like behavioral analysts who look for patterns or reasons behind why or how a crime was committed and then see if it is connected to other crimes committed in the same way.
“I imagine you’re talking about an investigation that could go on for years, certainly many months before they have exhausted all avenues especially if they begin to find an increasing number of victims, because if you find 1, 2, 3, 4 then you’re always concerned how many more," Knox said.
Knox says murder is generally a state crime so when the FBI takes over that usually indicates they are looking for connections outside of the state or are in need of more funding or resources.
“It sounds like there are crimes they are connecting or suspecting him to be involved with that are outside of Florida," Knox said.
Knox says the hard part is differentiating between items of evidence that are significant and items that don’t matter to the case because sometimes important details can be hidden in unexpected places.
“Particularly when you’re looking at things like DVDs and books, you’re looking for potentially recording because sometimes people record themselves committing crimes because they want to relive it, they want to go back and watch it and remember what they did and then in books you’re looking for diaries or journal entries where somebody may have actually written about it and put it in there,” Knox said.
All of the evidence collected at Hyde’s properties were sent to the FBI’s laboratories in Quantico, Virginia. FBI field crews are trained to package the evidence so it will not be disturbed when it’s transported.