Man found dead in Westside home; truck missing

Police: 58-year-old has been dead about a week; person of interest sought

Robert Ford
Robert Ford

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police are looking for a person of interest in the death of a man on the Westside.

Wednesday evening, police went to a home on Aldington Drive, near Wilson and Blanding boulevards, when a relative of 58-year-old Robert W. Ford called with concern for his well-being. Police said his family hadn't heard from him for several days.

"They were asked to come out here and make sure he was OK," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Sgt. Lonnie Mills said. "Once they arrived, they found forced entry to the residence. He was found deceased inside the residence."

Police said it appears Ford has been dead about a week. He was in the advanced stages of decomposition, investigators said.

Investigators are now looking for Ford's truck. The vehicle is described as a 2002 white Ford Ranger pickup truck with a Tonneau cover on the back and steel wheels. It has Florida license plate No. Q722WZ. The truck was registered to Ford's son, police said.

"It's scary because you don't know what's going on in the neighborhood," said one neighbor who didn't want to be identified. "Here recently we've had a lot of things that have been happening in the neighborhood, break-ins and all kinds of things that have been going on."

Neighbors in the area said Ford was a veteran and had lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years.

"He's always been really nice and just somebody that would never bother anybody," neighbor Jeff Baker said. "He'd been very sick lately, so this is just a real shock to me."

Neighbors said the neighborhood has had a lot of crime happening recently, and Ford's home had a history of being broken into.

Police reports show a number of crimes against Ford in the last 13 years. He had reported his home broken into several times, his truck broken into and glass broken. He'd also been the victim of identity theft. The reports do not show anyone arrested for any of the crimes.

"He's complained to me about getting broken into and trying to secure his doors over there," Baker said. "He even built a fence beside his house to put a dog in there."

Ford's son said his father locked his doors, and a sign outside warned he had a security system, but still it appears someone was able to break in, kill Ford and steal his truck.

Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said he wouldn't be surprised if the person responsible for Ford's death is the same person that took advantage of him before.

"Well, because he's been the victim of multiple burglaries, it obviously stood out that he's very vulnerable and he couldn't protect himself," Jefferson said. "He's a sitting duck more than anything, that he's an easy target."

Ford had 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. He was a Navy veteran and lived at his home by himself, according to his family.

Neighbors said Ford was very courteous and kind. One child said when his game system was stolen, Ford gave him his.

Police urge anyone with information concerning this case to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.