Inspection report details 'filthy' conditions inside accused killer's home

Ronnie Hyde arrested in 1994 cold case murder

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Inspectors described a Jacksonville Beach home that is owned by a man accused of the 1994 murder of a 16-year-old boy as "filthy," "disgusting" and "unsanitary," according to Jacksonville Beach Code Enforcement reports.

Ronnie Leon Hyde, 60, was arrested March 7 in Jacksonville Beach on a murder charge in the death of 16-year-old Fred Laster, who investigators believe Hyde befriended while he was a youth pastor in the 1980s.

The FBI and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office began exhaustive searches that day of Hyde's homes on Fourth Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach and Thelma Street in the Talleyrand neighborhood of Jacksonville. Both searches wrapped up later that week. 

On Tuesday, News4Jax obtained 83 pages of inspection reports on Hyde's Fourth Street home, which reveal that neighbors had been calling the city of Jacksonville Beach to complain about the house for the last decade. 

The inspections date back to 2007 and took place outside, referencing an abandoned car and an overgrown yard as well as shoddy exteriors of the home.

Neighbor Beverly Horne told News4Jax that she was just one of the people who called the city to complain about Hyde's home, which she described as an eyesore. 

"I told them it was a dilapidated house and it was just going down," Horne said. 

Hyde was cited on several occasions, and when inspectors returned, he was found to be in compliance, according to the reports. 

IMAGES: Closer look at Ronnie Hyde's property

Inspectors never went into the house until March 10 -- three days after Hyde's arrest.

The latest inspection was conducted by Jacksonville Beach Code Enforcement with the FBI and the fire marshal.

When officials entered the home, "the stench was foul," and found that the structure was "dilapidated, abandoned and unsanitary," the inspection report states.

Horne said that odor could also be smelled throughout the neighborhood. 

"It was real breezy that day, and the smell was just terrible. It was like something I have never smelled before," Horne said. 

The report details the conditions inside, saying it was cluttered and filthy, with roof leaks, water stains on ceilings and broken windows.

Inspectors found that there was no running water, and the bathroom and kitchen were unusable. They also noted that there was rotten food in the refrigerator and mildew on most household surfaces, including walls and cabinets.

The report also describes the sink and tub as "disgusting."

"There is dirt and rodent droppings throughout the dwelling," the report reads. It goes on to say that the carpet is "filthy."

Officials said that one room off the kitchen was so cluttered, they were unable to enter it.

The inspection report reveals that the roofing is not sound, with some sections hanging, creating a safety hazard.

Several days after that inspection, officials had to return to the Jacksonville Beach home to board up 15 windows and door openings, clean up debris in the yard and cut off hanging roof metal that was found to be a safety hazard. They also had to fix up Hyde's roof, which had been damaged by a storm. 

The repairs totaled more than $3,000. 

"I see over there now that they still have trash over there. I just want it torn down or something," Horne said.

The home now sits abandoned. Neighbors, including Horne, said they hope the city does something about it soon. 

"I don't know what they would do with it because nobody would live there. I just hope something will be done so it won't make our neighborhood look so bad because when there is one, then people start not caring, you know?" Horne said. 

The cold case

Columbia County investigators have worked the case since the body of a young man was found outside a dumpster at a BP gas station at the U.S. 441 Exit of Interstate 10. Using DNA technology, the remains were identified last February as those of the missing teenager.

Hyde, who worked for decades as a mental health counselor, became a suspect after Laster's family said that the last time Fred was heard from, he was with Hyde, the man he knew as his pastor.

Hyde was arrested in the early morning hours of March 7 after DNA taken from items in his trash last year matched DNA found on a flannel shirt left in the dumpster next to Laster's remains.

The FBI has asked for people to come forward with information about Hyde in connection with the agency's child exploitation investigation against him. The number to call is 904-248-7000.