JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are trying to find out whoever slashed a missing elderly man's throat, dumped him in a water-filled ditch miles from his home and stole his SUV.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a witness found 86-year-old Melvin Clark on Saturday afternoon lying on Maxville Macclenny Highway, a dirt road west of U.S. 301. Police said Clark had stab wounds and his clothes were completely soaked, appearing to have pulled himself out of a ditch and onto the dirt road.
Clark was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville with life-threatening injuries.
"He’s got a large cut from ear to ear on his neck," said his wife, Gayle Clark.
Investigators learned Clark was reported missing from Neptune Beach home just over three hours earlier. Clark's wife told police he was going to Academy Sports on Atlantic Boulevard, and then to the Navy Exchange on Mayport Road.
Clark's black 2005 Honda CRV was not found with the victim. Police entered it in the federal stolen vehicle database and Miami-Dade police notified the JSO at 10:30 a.m. Sunday that the vehicle was found in their jurisdiction.
In addition to his SUV stolen, the family said there were fraudulent transactions on Clark's credit card.
Family members said Clark is a Navy and Air Force veteran who then retired after years with Maxwell House. They said he was a generous person and would give anyone the shirt of his back.
"He’s just a great guy, an all-around great guy," said Tammy Damico, Clark's daughter. "I can’t imagine somebody doing this to him, tossing him out like he’s somebody’s garbage."
Family members said they've visited Clark in the hospital and held his hand, but he hasn't really been conscious.
"I think if you squeeze his hand, he might return a squeeze," Gayle Clark said.
Clark was described as a high-risk patient because of the injuries and his age.
The family was also told that he lost eight pints of blood. According to the American Red Cross, the average man has between 10-11 pints of blood.
Police said they are trying to figure out the victim's timeline between noon and 6 p.m. Saturday and are asking anyone who knows anything that could help in the investigation to call 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact CrimeStoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
"He’s just a great guy, an all-around great guy. I can’t imagine somebody doing this to him, tossing him out like he’s somebody’s garbage," Damico said. "If anybody knows any information, please come forward, because it could be your grandfather, your father, your husband who’s next."