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Child porn added to charges against man accused of killing teen

Ronnie Hyde accused of killing teen in 1994

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Disturbing details continue to emerge from the investigation into the 1994 murder of a Nassau County that lead to the arrest of a Jacksonville Beach man earlier this month.

The state attorney’s office has charged Ronnie Hyde with 12 counts of possession of child pornography.

Hyde, 60, is charged with killing 16-year-old Fred Laster, who investigators believe Hyde befriended while he was a youth pastor in the 1980s. Laster's dismembered body was found behind a gas station at a Columbia County exit of Interstate 10, but remained unidentified until 2015. Investigators narrowed their search to Hyde, and when blood on a flannel shirt found with the body matched Hyde, he was arrested.

Each pornography count indicates there were 10 or more images. News4Jax does not know in what capacity the material was in his possession, either a computer or phone or other content.

"This could be a video. This could be a movie. This could be pictures. This could be something that is on the computer," said Toni Chrabot, the former FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Jacksonville office.

Earlier this month, the FBI and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office conducted exhaustive searches of Hyde's homes on Fourth Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach and Thelma Street in the Talleyrand neighborhood of Jacksonville.

Chrabot, who now runs Risk Confidence Group, said the pornographic material may have come from Hyde's home.

"They were very cautious. I think that's what we saw when we were out there, making sure to not contaminate the scene," Chrabot said. "They were going to stay about a day and a half. They ended up being out there for four days."

Beyond searching the home, investigators spent time with heavy equipment digging in the yard. Chrabot said processing all that evidence is going to take some time.

"You're not going to hear anything for months," Chrabot said.

People with children who live near the Jacksonville Beach home where Hyde lived for years said the child porn charges are frightening. One couple said they always had a bad feeling about him and had warned their children to stay away.

Bill Horne, who lives across the street from Hyde’s Jacksonville Beach home, said he didn’t know the man personally, but he’s disgusted to hear about the new charges.

"Based on what they revealed on him in the beginning, that doesn't surprise me that they got him on child pornography," Horne said.

More charges against Hyde could be coming. FBI agents are investigating Hyde for possible international child sex trafficking, which is why detectives have asked for anyone with information about him to come forward.

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 I-10. Using DNA technology, the remains were identified last February as those of Laster, who was reported missing in 1994.

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 and charged with murder.

Hyde’s arraignment was set for Wednesday, but has been moved to April 11.

Hyde's family said it's just still too difficult for them to talk about things right now and they continue to ask for privacy. But they do hope people remember Laster and they hope people with information about what happened to Fred come forward.


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