Did accused child killer volunteer with church youth?

Ronnie Hyde awaiting trial in 1994 murder of 16-year-old Fred Laster

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Various churches are denying claims that Ronnie Hyde, a man accused of killing a teenager more than 20 years ago, made on an old resume that he served in volunteer positions at those organizations.

Those claims are contained in more than 3,000 pages of documents the State Attorney's Office released in the FBI investigation of Hyde's background and what he was doing between the time parts of 16-year-old Fred Lester's body were found in a Lake City dumpster in 1994 and his arrest last spring.

Hyde, 61, is awaiting trial in connection with the murder and dismemberment of Hyde, who prosecutors said he befriended through a church.

Hyde's tax returns from 1992 and 1993 list Laster as his foster child, but in 1995, a year after the teen was murdered, he was still listed as a dependent.

Since Hyde's arrest, the FBI has suggested there could be other victims. As a therapist, Hyde spent decades working with children, particularly teen and pre-teen boys.

The documents released show Hyde was known for wanting to volunteer with children with churches, prisons, youth organizations, and even nudist camps.

The FBI's information included what appeared to be a decade-old resume in which Hyde lists two dozen "churches served," including North Jacksonville Baptist. Officials with that church depute the claim, telling News4Jax that Hyde is not listed on any of the membership or volunteer records that date back to 1990.

Other organizations listed on that resume said they had never heard of Hyde.

IMAGES: Guns, files, letters, other evidence in Hyde's homes

There are multiple pages of his applying for work with youth at nudist camps. One on the list, the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, told News4Jax they don't offer camps for children, but they were researching historical records to see if Hyde was every involved with the facility.

The FBI has dozens of documents from The American Association Of Nude Recreation, an organization that was more difficult to track down. That association does indicate nudist camps for youth listed on their website along the East Coast and News4Jax has emailed officers in the group asking about Hyde.

The FBI also documented newspaper clippings from the 1980s with articles with headlines like “Man accused of rape,” “Two men sought in abduction, rape” and “4 charged in stabbing, theft.”

Fake Man of the Year cover

Another document was a self-assessment Hyde wrote in 1993, the year before Laster was killed. He wrote, “I receive a lot of satisfaction from helping others to work through problems and life issues," and, “I prefer to maintain a low profile and do not attend many social functions."

There was a lot of documentation that Hyde had cared for and been close to other relatives of Laster. There was also a faked Newsweek magazine "Our Man of the Year" cover where the person in the picture appears to be one of Laster’s relatives. 

Hyde's trial is set for early December. His next pretrial hearing is in August.

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