Neighbors speak out after Keystone Heights man’s beating death

Stephen Perry, 34, was removed from life support Thursday, his family says

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. – Neighbors are on edge after the death of a Clay County man who was beaten by several people armed with bats.

Stephen Perry, 34, was taken off life support Thursday, almost one week after the Nov. 22 attack unfolded outside a home in a rural part of Keystone Heights, his family told News4Jax.

So far, authorities have made one arrest in the case. Kalvin Roe was arrested in Statenville, Georgia, on charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm. He’s awaiting extradition.

On Friday, neighbors told News4Jax it’s rare to see any crime reported in their community, much less a violent crime like the one that ended up taking Perry’s life.

“Never, like never,” said one woman who lives in the area. “We don’t see stuff like that back here.”

The woman said she did, however, notice a heavy police presence in the area last week. It struck her as unusual.

“A cop came flying down the road with his lights on, got out, had a gun drawn,” she recalled. “The crime scene unit at the end of the road. We never know what was going on because you don’t see that around here.”

A News4Jax search of crime mapping tools covering the area found very few crimes over the past six months within a one-mile radius of where the attack is said to have happened.

According to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, homicide detectives were able to track Roe’s cellphone pings to the Eschols County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia. Roe was found within one block of the agency’s headquarters.

A friend of Perry’s told News4Jax that up to 10 people targeted his friend in the attack. Now investigators are looking for others they suspect might be involved in the case.

News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson said it’s possible that witnesses are not cooperating and giving investigators the information they need to make more arrests. If that’s the case, he said, it’s possible they could lean on Roe for those details.

“Don’t think for one moment that police will not press this individual who they’ve arrested because, when push comes to shove, he can carry most of the charges if there are no other arrests,” he said. “So, he’s compelled to cooperate.”

A friend of Perry’s said the 34-year-old man is survived by two daughters.

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