Jason Pelishek was murdered in 2012 and his case has run cold. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office reopened the case and are now looking at a person of interest, but his family fears they will never see justice.
Jason's body was found beaten, brutalized and possibly sexually abused on July 23, 2012 according to detectives. He was found lying between a law firm and a PODS storage unit in Downtown Jacksonville.
"There was a lot of evidence at the scene and it had been worked, but there wasn't really anything that was leading us to the killer," tells Sgt Dan Janson with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Cold Case Unit.
Jason was just 30 years old.
His mother remembers Jason as a brilliant child who picked up new topics with fervor.
"He was always so very intense, when he learned something he would learn it completely through and then go on to something else," Jessie McKinnon said of her oldest son.
He was into computers and programming, rollerblading, he played the flute and he was a good big brother.
At fifteen, Jason's life took a turn. He found drugs, it began with oxycontin then ecstasy and opioids. He spent time in jail for theft. Jessie says Jason wanted to get his life back on the right path, he even tried joining the Air Force. He had good test results, but with the arrest on his record, he was turned away. She says he then tried a methadone program, but things only got worse. By then he had become a shell of the son she had once known.
"He had $350 and decided to buy a bus ticket to Florida and decided to change it all," tells Jessie.
She says Jason was going cold turkey off of drugs, but he was living on the streets. He lived in Jacksonville for a year and a half. In the days before his death, JSO says he was staying at the Sulzbacher Center.
The day before he died, Jessie got an ominous phone call.
"The guy that was with Jason the day before and had called me and said 'you have to get him out of here, it is dangerous here!' I don't even know who this guy was," says Jessie, still upset by the memory of that phone call.
Jessie says she told Jason to stay at the center and they would make arrangements for him to receive treatment in Wisconsin and then come get him.
The next day, Jason was dead.
In time his case was moved over to the Cold Case Unit at JSO, where Sgt Janson says more evidence was processed and they entered the case in ViCAP. It is a program that is designed to track and correlate information about violent crimes, especially murder.
"Well it just so happens that we have one that was similar. So we developed a person of interest and we are looking at this person with a close eye at this point," tells Sgt Janson.
Sgt Janson declined to give specifics on the person of interest, but says the person had ties to the Jacksonville area around the time Jason was killed and possibly committed a similar murder in another city in Florida.
As for Jessie, she says she tries to focus on the good times with Jason and is hoping that someday someone will come forward with information about who killed her son.
Sgt Janson says families should never give up hope and urges anyone with information to come forward.
"People see things that sometimes they think are insignificant and they really do hold value. They might say 'well I saw somebody walking out from behind that business, but it was 6 o'clock in the morning so it probably wasn't anything to do with it', but if you have any information that could be related to this let us decide how important or not important it is," explains Sgt Janson.
If you know anything about the murder of Jason Pelishek call JSO at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS(8477) and you can remain anonymous.
For more local cold cases and a cold case database visit www.projectcoldcase.org
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