Former Columbia detective is confident Ronnie Hyde is the right suspect

Ken Amaro is on your side. 3/8/2017

LAKE CITY, Fla. -- It's been 23 years, but to Calvin Fenner - who's now 68 - it seems like it was just yesterday. "I remember every detail on my arrival and what I saw."

Fenner, a former army medic, says when he saw the mutilated human torso on that day in 1994 it was enough to make him sick.

"It was like it wasn't even real," said Fenner. "The body had been cleaned up there was no real amount of blood, nothing that you would expect to find with a decapitated mutilated body."

Fenner, then a Columbia County homicide detective, began the investigation into the grizzly crime scene identifying the victim. The search was everywhere and the frustration was endless.

"We've looked at serial killers in other states," said Fenner. "Local people we thought could have been responsible. We checked the I-10 corridor, we checked north to Valdosta and south to almost Ocala: no leads at all, it became pretty frustrating."

The crime consumed his whole being. "I put in hundreds of hours on this case and all of them until recently have been dead ends," he said.

Fenner retired from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office back in December 2011, but this was his case and he stayed in touch - right up to the arrest of the suspect Ronnie Hyde. He said he broke down - overjoyed.

"It was such an emotional time I could hardly talk," said Fenner. "But just the relief to know who the victim was and who the suspect was, it is a load you carry with you all of your life."

Fenner said he can't imagine what the family is now experiencing. He knows what it has been for him during the past two decades. "As time went on it was a hopeless case I was pursing after," he said.

But he said when you're a cold case detective, you never quit working the case. "It is an obsession it is not just a job," said Fenner, "you've got to have the heart to keep at it because there are so many let downs, so many false roads."

He said given what he knows, he is very confident they have the right suspect.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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