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Duval County grand jury indicts two men in 1990s murder cold cases

The State Attorney's Office obtained the first-degree murder indictments from a Duval County Grand Jury Thursday.

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. — A former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detective could face the death penalty for his alleged role in a 1999 cold case murder.

The State Attorney's Office obtained a first-degree murder indictment of William Baer from a Duval County Grand Jury Thursday.

Prosecutors told First Coast News that they will seek the death penalty.

Baer is accused of stabbing 39-year-old Saad Kawaf to death during a botched robbery of his Deerwood home. He has pleaded not guilty.

On May 17, 1999, Saad Kawaf said goodbye to his wife before walking out the door to head to work. Law enforcement said Baer and his ex-wife, Melissa Jo Schafer were waiting outside and attacked Kawaf in his driveway.

Saad Kawaf’s wife later told officers she heard a scream and when she opened the door she saw her husband being dragged into the garage while being beaten and stabbed. Mrs. Kawaf says she was then grabbed by a female attacker and dragged back into the home and bound.

In addition to first-degree murder, Baer is charged with kidnapping with a weapon, armed robbery, armed burglary and aggravated battery.

The grand jury also indicted Ronnie Hyde for first-degree murder for his alleged role in the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Fred Laster. 

Hyde is accused of killing and dismembering Laster, a teenager he mentored, lived with and even claimed as a foster child.

Laster’s naked torso was found in 1994 in a Lake City dumpster, along with Hyde’s DNA and items from his house, according to police.

Hyde also faces an additional charge for 25 counts of possession of photographs/sexual performance by a child. 


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