JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Investigators have concluded a third day searching in and around the Jacksonville Beach home of a 60-year-old man accused of killing and dismembering a teenage boy 23 years ago. The FBI has announced agents will continue the search on Friday, and they asked neighbors for their patience with the investigation.
Ronnie Hyde, a certified mental health counselor and former youth pastor, owned and lived the home on North Fourth Avenue since the early 1990s. The search has included heavy equipment used to dig up the yard and dozens of FBI agents in safety suits bringing things from the home and sorting through the items under tents.
Medical Examiner’s Office personnel were at the home Wednesday morning, but there was no word as to whether any human remains were found.
Neighbors who live on the street blocked off by law enforcement since early Tuesday morning have been fascinated by the commotion. Beverly Hornes, who has lived in her home since 1967, said that after the FBI showed up, she noticed a terrible smell.
"My little neighbor, who's pregnant, she said, 'What is that awful smell coming out of there?' And I said, 'It's coming from down there. They're cleaning that house out,'" Beverly Horne said.
Horne said she’s never seen Hyde before and thought the home was empty.
Pat Thompson, another neighbor, said she saw Hyde a few years ago.
"He would just walk by," Thompson said. "I’d be hanging out and he’d walk by with his two greyhounds, and once in a while, he might look over and nod his head, but that was it. We never really spoke to each other.”
Horne said that when the FBI first showed up early Thursday morning, her husband heard a loud bang.
“I was sitting out here drinking coffee when they started trooping in and I thought, 'What’s going on?’" Thompson, said. “I just saw them all get in a line, and then it sounded like they crashed in a back door or something.”
Chad and Lisa Reed, whose house backed up to Hyde's home before they moved out of the neighborhood, drove by because they were interested in the case and was questioned by the FBI.
“They pretty much want to know the kids that lived in the area at that time, and we gave them a few names of some of the other kids that lived in the area and they wanted to talk to our middle son and the youngest one to see if they ever remember any type of interaction that they may have had with him," Chad Reed said. "Seems like their focus was on the young kids.”
An FBI search of Hyde's other property in the Tallyrand section of Jacksonville ended Wednesday. There's no indication how long they will continue to search the Jacksonville Beach property.
Hyde was arrested Tuesday and is being held without bond in the 1994 death of Fred Laster, a Nassau County 16-year-old who disappeared from Jacksonville. News4Jax has learned that since he earned $55,000 working for a contractor of the Department of Corrections, he was denied a public defender and must pay for his own defense.
Partial remains of a young man found behind a Lake City gas station were unidentified until 2014. A poster of a flannel shirt and bathmat circulated by the Columbia County Sheriff's Office led a Laster family member to contact authorities. Fred's twin sister provided a DNA sample that allowed authorities to finally identify the remains as those of Laster.
Since the family said that Hyde was believed to be the last person with Laster, he became a suspect in his death. Investigators learned Fred's older brother lived at Hyde's Jacksonville Beach home years after Fred's death.
Authorities said they pulled items from Hyde's trash to match his DNA with that of blood on the flannel shirt, leading to the murder charge.
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