Grand jury indicts 2 for murder in Jacksonville cold cases

Mugshots: William Baer, Ronnie Hyde

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Duval County grand jury has returned indictments for first-degree murder in two Jacksonville cold cases.

The first notable case involves William Baer, who is charged with murder in the 1999 stabbing death of businessman Saad Kawaf and the robbery of his wife at their home in Deerwood.

The state attorney’s office has informed Baer it will seek the death penalty if he’s convicted.

Baer’s ex-wife, Melissa Schafer, is also facing charges. The pair were arrested separately in July 2020. She has pleaded guilty, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

RELATED: Documents: ’99 cold case victim was under FBI investigation

Baer also is charged with kidnapping with a weapon, armed robbery, armed burglary, and aggravated battery.

The second case involves Ronnie Hyde, who was arrested in March 2017 for the 1994 murder of Fred Laster, a 16-year-old boy.

According to investigators, Laster’s dismembered torso was found in a dumpster in Lake City. Investigators believe Laster was killed in Hyde’s Jacksonville Beach home.

Hyde’s case has moved slowly through the courts, with multiple trial dates set and canceled. As of writing, there is no new trial date.

Hyde is also facing 25 counts of possession of child porn. His lawyers have filed several motions to throw out the evidence, but they’ve all been denied.


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