Police hone in on car after pet sitter found dead in Fernandina Beach home

Family member says Colleen Potts was a lover of life, animals & people

The Fernandina Beach Police Department is hoping a vehicle belonging to a 73-year-old house sitter who was found dead in Fernandina Beach last week will provide some much-needed clues and help its ongoing investigation.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The Fernandina Beach Police Department is hoping a vehicle belonging to a 73-year-old house sitter who was found dead in Fernandina Beach last week will provide some much-needed clues and help its ongoing investigation.

Colleen Potts of Yulee was found dead in a home on South 13th Street near Date Street on Oct. 24. Police are now investigating her death as a homicide.

Police described Potts’ death as “a terrible tragedy.”

In a news release Tuesday, police said someone may have entered Potts’ unlocked white Kia Soul the night before she was found dead and taken money that was left in the car. Police said that is now being investigated as part of the crime.

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Police say someone may have entered Colleen Potts unlocked white Kia Soul the night before she was found dead and taken money that was left in the car. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Police noted the home where she was found was not in disarray and there were no obvious signs of a struggle. The dogs that were protective of the house when police showed up were also not injured and were still inside the home when police showed up.

Right now, detectives are waiting for the results of a forensic review of Potts’ phone to see if there is anything on it that can help the investigation. Other evidence recovered from the scene is being processed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Police said while many specifics of the case cannot be released, detectives are interviewing neighbors, friends and relatives to help understand the timeline of her final hours.

Monica O’Connor fought back tears as she described her father’s fun-loving life partner. She said her dad is in deep grief, and can’t speak about the loss of a woman who was, in a word, selfless.

“She 100 percent did not deserve this in any way,” O’Connor said.

She said Potts loved animals, and they loved her. For security reasons, the 73-year-old didn’t advertise and only found clients by word of mouth.

“There aren’t many people that are like her,” O’Conner said. “The more you talk to people in the community, you’re only gonna hear good things, over and over and over and over -- because she’s a rare person.”

Officers said they responded shortly after 9 p.m. last Sunday to the home for a wellbeing check and found Potts, who was pet sitting for the homeowner, dead inside.

Potts was last seen in the early hours of Sunday evening driving her car, police said.

“Because Colleen can no longer speak for herself, it is now our responsibility to speak for her and seek justice on her behalf, a responsibility that we take very seriously,” the Police Department said in a Facebook post.

Following her death, people who knew her have been sharing on social media.

“She was the best! She brought our dogs ice cream treats and left us a welcome home bottle of wine with a balloon. Who does that for their clients?” Jen Ankrum said.

“Thank you so much for the update and all that you do! We’re praying FBPD finds the person(s) responsible for this heinous crime and justice is served for our Nanny Colleen,” said Melinda Doris.

The detectives working the case are asking that you contact them if you have any information concerning Potts’ death or if you may have observed her vehicle at any location on the evening of Oct. 24.

Detective Christina Corbitt can be contacted at 904-310-3218 or if you have information and would like to remain anonymous you may contact First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-8477. Information leading to an arrest could make you eligible for a reward.


About the Authors:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.