3 in custody after attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery of 86-year-old local vet: Police

Three people were arrested in connection to the attempted murder of the elderly man.

Three Jacksonville residents were arrested April 10 in Palm Beach County in connection to the brutal attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery of an 86-year-old Neptune Beach veteran a few days before, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday.

A lead investigator with the JSO says Douglas Cercy, 34, Jennifer Schulte, 37, and Ray Jones, 21, are all suspects in the attack on Melvin Clark, who was left on the side of a road in far western Duval County on April 8, bleeding profusely.

A bystander reportedly found Clark in the middle of Maxville Macclenny Highway with his throat cut, the sheriff's office says. That person called police to the scene who had Clark flown to Orange Park Medical Center immediately.

Clark is still recovering from his injuries and is medically unable to respond to police questions about the incident, authorities say.

Investigators were unable to identify Clark when he was found even with the help of the Clay County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol.

A break in the case came when Clark's wife called the Neptune Beach Police Department to report him missing. He'd left earlier that day to run some errands but hadn't returned. She even got some calls from a credit card company reporting unusual activity on his card.

Police say a Silver Alert was put out for Clark - not knowing he was the victim they found on the side of the road. An investigator soon realized the picture matched the man in the hospital bed and called Neptune Beach Police to say he was at Orange Park Medical Center.

That night, investigators say they learned his car and most of his belongings were missing as well.

On Sunday, Miami-Dade Police found his abandoned car in South Florida. Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office went down to Miami and began investigating. 

Cercy, Schulte and Jones were located at a Greyhound bus station in Delray Beach and promptly taken into custody. They were in Palm Beach County Jail on an out-of-county warrant until late Wednesday afternoon, when they were transported to pre-trial detention in downtown Jacksonville.

At this time, police say they are working to determine how the trio lured Clark to the Westside and what relationship he had with them.

While First Coast News has the trio's mug shots, authorities have asked us not to release them as it may hamper their investigation. We are honoring their request and will not put the pictures out at this time.

Each suspect in this case has an extensive criminal history, police say.

This is a developing story. Stay with First Coast News for updates.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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