JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Two contractors began work at 8 a.m. Wednesday to demolish the Jacksonville Beach home of a man accused in the 1994 murder of a 16-year-old boy.
Ronnie Hyde, who investigators said murdered and dismembered Fred Laster before disposing of his body in a Columbia County dumpster, worked for decades as a mental health counselor and 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, 60, 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 decapitated remains.
Hyde's Jacksonville Beach property and another home he owns in the Talleyrand neighborhood of Jacksonville were the subject of extensive search by the FBI and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office a couple of months ago.
Inspectors with the city's code enforcement division described the inside of Hyde's Jacksonville Beach home on Fourth Avenue North as “filthy” and "disgusting."
The city inspection report said the house was dilapidated, abandoned and unsanitary, with a foul stench. The roofing was not sound, with sections hanging, creating a safety hazard, and there was no running water and visible mildew and rat droppings everywhere, the report said.
Neighbors said the outside wasn't much better.
"It was a complete mess. The roof was a mess. The whole house just looked like something in a horror film," neighbor Lindsay Nadeau said. "It was pretty bad."
Another woman who grew up in the area said the home was known as the Freddy Krueger house, after the character from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
Reporters said the smell coming from the house as it was demolished Wednesday was very unpleasant.
A neighbor told News4Jax that he is relieved the house will soon be gone and looks forward to moving past everything that has happened in his typically quiet neighborhood. He said he was told by a city representative that the property was purchased by a developer, and another house will likely be built on the lot.
"Now it's getting torn down, it's wonderful. My husband already took pictures and put it on Facebook. It's wonderful news," neighbor Beverly Horne said. "I prayed for it. ... I was hoping they would tear it down."
The contractors who were at the Jacksonville Beach property used their equipment to tear the home apart little by little Wednesday. They said they expect the work to last a couple of days, but it could move faster than that, as they accomplished a lot of work in the first hours.
An excavator was knocking the home down, and a dump truck was on-site to haul away trash and debris.
Hyde, who remains in jail without bond awaiting trial, has also been charged with 12 counts of possessing child pornography. His attorney has filed a motion for separate trials on the murder and child porn charges.
Hyde is next scheduled to be in court June 19.