Weeks After Killing, Man's Remains ID'd
Family Relieved They Can Now Have Funeral Service, Burial For Father
After nearly a month since 83-year-old Charles Soukup was killed near Jacksonville International Airport, his family said they can now bury their father's body.
The medical examiner's office positively identified Soukup's body this week by matching teeth remains to a picture of him smiling.
Soukup's family said it wasn't an easy process.
"(Jacksonville police) won't tell me what condition the remains were in, and they refused to let us identify my father because there was nothing to see," Chuck Soukup, Charles Soukup's son, said in a phone interview Thursday.
The 83-year-old disappeared Oct. 25 after renting a car at JIA. His decomposing body was found several days later in a nearby wooded area.
Police believe Soukup was carjacked and later killed.
Shanda Merritt, 34, her 17-year-old son, Corey Harrington, and 17-year-old Raymond Austin are all charged with murder in Soukup's killing.
Two others were arrested, accused of trying to get others to lie about what happened.
"They took away an 83-year-old man's life," Chuck Soukup said. "Someone that age is like overcoming a child, defenseless, and these were big thugs."
Soukup's family said the wait to identify their father's body was frustrating. First, investigators sent Soukup's fingerprints to the FBI because the victim was a retired U.S. custom's agent and his records were supposed to be on file.
"The FBI informed them that by executive order, all federal records and fingers prints of federal employees born in 1928 and back were destroyed, so there was no record of my dad," Chuck Soukup said.
The medical examiner's office said no dental records were available, but they matched some of Soukup's teeth to a picture.
The family said even though their father can now be laid to rest, their fight for answers and justice continues.
"I hope the hammer comes down hard," Chuck Soukup said. "I think they should get the death penalty. My dad had no chance."
Soukup's family said they will have a funeral for their father after the holidays, and he will be buried at the National Cemetery in Gainesville with full military honors.
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