Murder of Jacksonville brother and sister gets renewed attention 30 years later

An unsolved double homicide in Jacksonville involving a young brother and sister is getting renewed attention more than 30 years later.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An unsolved double homicide in Jacksonville involving a young brother and sister is getting renewed attention more than 30 years later.

The siblings, ages 10 and 14, were found brutally murdered in their North Jacksonville home in 1987 and there have been no arrests in the case.

But in the last month, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit sent fingerprints off to labs hoping new technology will get the family some long-awaited answers.

“I still burn candles for them, especially on their anniversary, 4th of July,” said the victims’ mother Betty McDuffie. “My babies didn’t deserve that. They were so sweet.”

A JSO detective said he decided to revisit the case when he looked at the file and noticed there haven’t been any leads for some time. Then, seeing the two young victims in the crime scene photos, he felt the case needed attention.

“There was just the lack of information there,” said Glenn Warkentien, JSO Cold Case Detective.

Now he’s revisiting the case and starting from scratch.

“Just the thing that really stands out there was just they’ve talked to several people there. They looked into things and they just went nowhere,” Warkentien said. “They just didn’t have enough at the time to pinpoint a suspect or suspects. It seems like it just, you know, just stopped. There was nothing more that they could do with it.”

He said taking the old evidence and using new technology will make a difference.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office report from July 4, 1987, neighbors called police after they saw McDuffie screaming in the middle of Brook Forest Drive that her children had been killed.

Yvonne Pinkney was 14 and her brother Balalian Pinkney was 10 when they were killed on July 4, 1987. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

When police arrived, they found the children dead in separate bedrooms.

JSO said Wednesday there were some weapons removed from the home in 1987 that are now being analyzed.

The kids were home alone that night and McDuffie told police someone broke in.

“If I could turn back the hands of time I would’ve took my children with me or I wouldn’t have left home,” McDuffie told News4Jax on Wednesday. “I’m just sorry I ever left them that night because I know they screamed for me but I wasn’t there.”

McDuffie told police she found a window on the rear door open that had previously been closed. She closed it before police arrived and noticed the screen outside the window had been ripped away, according to the report.

Authorities reviewed the case again in 2013.

Detectives interviewed McDuffie again recently and they said she brought a few things to their attention.

“I feel somebody knows something, somebody heard something,” McDuffie said. “But all I want is closure.”

Along with that mystery, remains another unanswered question at Restlawn Cemetary where her children were buried.

Betty McDuffie during an emotional interview with News4Jax in 2012. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

McDuffey said one day when she went to visit her children’s graves, the headstones were missing.

“I went out there and I asked them where my children’s grave was. The guy went and stuck something in the ground and said they’d call me back and they never called me,” McDuffie told News4Jax in 2012.

That was nearly 20 years ago.

McDuffie said the headstones have yet to be found after years and years of asking.

The police are asking if you remember anything from this case, give them a call.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad