Westside residents react to neighbor's killing

Robert Ford, 58, was found dead in his home, investigators say

Published On: Dec 20 2012 09:38:00 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 21 2012 09:57:06 AM EST
Robert Ford
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Residents in the Westside are on alert after learning Jacksonville police suspect foul play in the death of a neighbor.

Police found the body of 58-year old Robert Ford Wednesday night in his home on Aldington Drive near Wilson and Blanding boulevards and Stonewall Jackson Elementary.

Investigators said Ford had been dead about a week.

"You never think it can happen so close to home," said Melissa Collins, who used to live in the neighborhood.

"I haven’t heard nothing. I thought we lived in a nice neighborhood," said Terry Carlson, who lives nearby Ford's home.

Ford's death is the latest and most serious case in the neighborhood reported to police. Channel 4 searched reports from surrounded homes going back to 1999. Ford alone had filed at least nine incident reports with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, records show.

Collins said crime in the neighborhood in the past year has increasingly worsened.

"Real bad. Breaks in, burglaries. The man over here, his tires slashed, I don’t know how many times," said Collins. "Our mailbox taken down, twice in a month.”

Collins said she took steps to ensure her safety when she lived her.

"(I) put different locks on the doors, made sure all the windows were locked. Actually, we put sticks in the windows, so the windows wouldn’t even come up, you know," Collins said. "It just got really bad down here. We lived here four years."

For his part, Carlson put up cameras after he moved into the neighborhood from the Southside.

"I got broken into twice there. So when I come here, I thought maybe a little protection, could maybe see who was stealing from me," he said. "I keep my house locked up, and I’ve got cameras. It’s kinda like, if they’re going to come, you can’t stop them.”

Channel 4's crime analyst Ken Jefferson said it seems like the man police found dead in his home had taken steps to protect himself.