JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man arrested Thursday and charged with robbing three Jacksonville convenience stores is now charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused the death of a pedestrian on New Kings Road.
Vicky Sue DeYoung, 45, was found dead along the road just south of Interstate 295 early Thursday morning.
George Leonard Keene Jr. admitted while being interviewed on the robbery charges that he hit the woman with his truck and left the scene, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
"In that confession, he started talking about a hit-and-run that had taken place that same morning," JSO Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda said. "At that time, we didn't even know they were connected. Traffic homicide detectives at that time got involved in the case. I actually went and looked at his truck, matched it up with some materials, pieces of the vehicle that were left at the scene of the hit-and-run ... We are definite it is the same suspect."
DeYoung was a wonderful mother, sister, grandmother and friend, Jade Geiger, her daughter-in-law, told News4Jax.
Geiger added that DeYoung would do anything for anybody and their family is still trying to process the tragedy.
A woman acquaintance of Keene who told News4Jax she called law enforcement officers to identify him when police released surveillance photos from the robberies during said she knew he also hit the woman with his truck.
"My heart goes out to the family," said the woman, who did not want to be named. "I don’t know who the family is, and if there’s something I can do, I will do it. If he did do it, it wasn’t intentionally. God has to handle that."
A GoFundMe account has been created to help DeYoung's family pay for her funeral expenses.
Police: Keen arrested hours after robbing 3 stores Thursday morning
Keene, 49, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in Middleburg by Clay County deputies, who turned him over to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Keene appeared in a Duval County courtroom Friday morning on two counts of strong arm robbery, and bond was set at $200,000.
According to the JSO, Keene robbed three stores in a span of four hours:
- Kangaroo gas station at 9901 New Kings Road at 2:16 a.m.
- Gate gas station at 10980 New Kings Road at 4:43 a.m.
- Speedway gas station at 8346 Normandy Blvd. at 6:30 a.m.
In the first robbery, the report says Keene went behind the register, put his finger to the clerk's hip, and told her to open it. The report said he then left after getting cash.
In the Speedway robbery, the report says Keene threatened the clerk and made off with money, a can of coke and cigarettes.
Police said Keene was driving a dark-colored Ford truck with a missing front bumper, damage to the right front side and toolboxes on both sides on the bed of the truck.
Keene's arrest came after his friend, who did not wish to be identified, said she called deputies because she recognized him in surveillance images on the news.
The woman told News4Jax that Keene called her to ask for money after the robberies occurred. She said she told Keene that he should turn himself in before things got worse. Then, the woman said Keene came to her house, asking for money again.
She said she was very scared, and wasn't sure what he was going to do, so that's when she alerted law enforcement.
"It's also difficult knowing I have children, and I didn't want no one to get hurt. I don't want no bad stuff to happen to nobody. In this world, you can't trust nobody, not even your own family. I just pray anyone that's on drugs or been to prison, go get help," the woman said.
According to Duval County court records, Keene is a registered sex offender who has been arrested multiple times, dating back to 1989, and he was on probation from a previous conviction when he was arrested Thursday.
Keene was arrested on charges of robbery, sexual battery and false imprisonment in 2005, a charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant female in 2004, battery and disorderly conduct charges in 2000, a charge of child abuse in 1996 and drug charges in 1989, court records show.
He served less than a year in prison in 1990 on cocaine possession charges. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to sexual battery in connection with the robbery of a business. He served eight years in prison and was released in June 2014, placed on three years' probation as a sex offender. Four months after his release, he was arrested for violating his probation, and he went back to prison until September 2015.
The woman said it was extremely difficult for her to turn Keene in because she cares about his well-being, but also did not want to see anyone get hurt.
"He was doing good for a while," she said. "He was working, making decent money and then he lost his job due to conflict and stuff and when the pressure hit."