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$50K Reward Offered In The 1994 Cold Case Murder of Florida Teen Laralee Spear
“Clear your conscience,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood urged the public on the 27th anniversary of the Spear's murder.
Authorities are begging the public to come forward with information related to the cold case slaying of a Florida high school cheerleader who was murdered nearly three decades ago.
Laralee Spear was last seen alive exiting a school bus on Deerfoot Road at approximately 3:15 p.m. on April 25, 1994 in Deland, Florida. Her family reported her missing about 50 minutes later. Hours afterwards, her body was found near a deserted, burnt down home roughly a quarter-mile from her family’s house. She’d been shot to death. Investigators suspect she was kidnapped moments after stepping off the school bus. She was 15.
The case, however, was never solved. On the 27th anniversary of Spear’s murder, officials are now relying on the public to come forward with information which could lead to the teenager’s killer. A $50,000 reward has been issued in the case for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
“No family deserves to experience what Laralee’s family has been through for all these years,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement. “If anyone out there has information that could help bring this innocent girl’s killer or killers to justice, now is the time to clear your conscience and come forward.”
Bobby Allen Raleigh was initially charged with Spear’s execution-style murder, according to the Orlando Sentinel. In 1998, however, the charges were dropped by the State Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors characterized the evidence against the Florida mechanic as “extremely weak.”
"It took this long to figure out they didn't have the right person," David Spear, Laralee’s father, said at the time. "Now we're right back where we started from 3 and a half years ago and maybe worse off. The case is cold at this point. We thought we were going down the road to a final closure."
In 1996, Raleigh was sentenced to death for gunning down two men in a trailer following a dispute at a DeLand night club, court documents show. He’s currently on death row at a state prison near Raiford, Florida, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com.
Detectives are now banking on public tips to close Spear’s case.
“We do have forensic evidence there that as time goes by, DNA improves, the technology improves but there are people who know who that was, too,” Chitwood previously said, WKMG-TV reported.
Authorities also recently met with the FBI to discuss the case, officials said.
“The single biggest break, however, may come from someone who can give detectives a new piece of information, even a small detail,” Volusia County Sheriff added in a statement.
The sheriff’s office has also released a new video featuring Spear’s sister, aimed at spreading awareness of the cold case murder.
“It still hurts every day,” Ginny Bussell, Laralee's sister, says in the video recording. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. I always wonder what she would think of Christmas or Thanksgiving, her birthday. I always wonder where she’ll be at if things were different, if somebody had just left her alone that day and let her live what life would be like with her here. I’m sure it would be a lot happier.”
Bussell also pleaded for witnesses to come forward to help solve her sister's killing.
“I can only beg and I hate to say that but if you know something, please just come forward, just tell something,” she says. “Even if you think it’s the most useless piece of information. Just speak up. One little can make a world of difference, can bring peace to Laralee, can bring us hope, and closure.”
Anybody with information related to this investigation is urged to contact the Volusia County Sheriff’s Major Case Unit by calling 386-254-1537 or by emailing ColdCaseUnitTips@vcso.us.