As two men face charges in the beating death of a 19-year-old at a bonfire party over the weekend, the mother of the victim asks, "How can I continue on with my life?"
Ryan Ford (pictured, below) was beaten about 1 a.m. Saturday during a large party by a lake about a quarter-mile into the woods off Old St. Augustine Road near Baptist Medical Center South, police said.
Detectives said 22-year-old Robert Cline was the first to punch Ford, who police said was "blindsided." Then, police said, 25-year-old Christopher Hoffman stepped in and beat the teen unconscious.
Friends rushed Ford to Baptist South, and he was then transferred to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, where he died.
Ford's mother said Ryan was not a troublemaker and didn't start fights.
"Ryan was my life. He was a great kid and he was just so full of life. There wasn't an ounce of meanness in that kid," Linda Ford said. "I don't understand what it is these kids have that they feel the need to go beat on another human being."
Homicide detectives say dozens of kids were at the party, alcohol was involved and several fights took place.
"Apparently there was over 50 individuals out there that night. A lot of them dispersed before police got there," Lt. Rob Schoonover said at a news conference Monday morning. "We are asking for anyone who was there that night to call us with information that they may have seen what happened."
Anyone who witnessed the fight or has any information should call police at 904-630-2172 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
Police charged Hoffman with manslaughter and Cline with battery causing bodily harm.
"This is a tragic event with more questions than answers at this early stage in the investigation," said James Hill, Hoffman's attorney. "We are hopeful that the public reserves judgment until all facts are available and that this case is properly handled in a court of law and not a court of public opinion." [Read Hill's complete statement]
Police said Cline was released on bond, while Hoffman remains in jail. It was unclear if any more arrests would be made.
Investigators said they're also looking into who owns the property (pictured, left). Schoonover said police have been called there several times before for incidents such as truancy, but nothing of this magnitude.
The area in Bartram Park where Ford was beaten is a quarter of a mile from the road and requires 4-wheel drive to get to the site.
Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson said he believes it's an ideal spot for teenage parties.
"It's very remote, middle of nowhere right in the city. They can make as much noise as they want," said Jefferson. "(It's) not close to anything that could possibly lodge a complaint."
The accumulated beer bottles and cups show there have been a lot of parties at the site, according to Jefferson.
"I'm really not surprised there was a death here," said Jefferson. "All this alcohol, there might have been illicit drugs. (Drugs) might have been passed around or sold."
While the parties do not seem to bother the neighbors, 11-year-old Daniel Brydo said he hears a lot of noises at night, almost a half-mile from where Ford was killed.
"We once looked over the fence to see if we could see anything, but couldn't," said Brydo. "Just heard what sounds like gunshots."