Investigation continues 5 years after men’s bodies were found in burning SUV

Families still waiting for an arrest in deaths of Charles Durden, Steffon Larry

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Family members of two St Augustine men, who were found dead in a burning SUV in November 2016, are still looking for answers five years later.

No arrests have been announced in the deaths of Charles Durden and Steffon Larry. Investigators say they were shot and that their SUV was set on fire on Spring Street near Fred Waters Way. The Medical Examiner’s Office later ruled the men’s deaths homicides. The cause of death was by gunshot and arson, deputies said.

Detectives from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office say they’ve developed a new lead, but at this point they’re unable to comment on it.

April Mariani, Larry’s sister, returned to the site Tuesday.

“It feels like yesterday,” Mariani said. “So many emotions coming right now because it’s just like yesterday. I remember everything vividly. And it’s just really painful five years later.”

Mariani is making sure his memory and a memorial both stay in tack. She is not alone.

A short time later, family members of Durden arrived. They held a short service, reading a psalm from the Bible.

They were glad to hear police are still working leads, but Durden’s mother is still in pain.

“I am not in good health, but by his grace and his mercy, I am still here. And I know God is going to let me see just justice before I close my eyes and he calls me home,” Durden’s mother said.

From that memorial site, the family went to a location nearby where another man, Lavert Durden -- who is not related -- was killed two years ago. No arrests have been announced in that case.

Anyone with information that can help detectives is asked to contact Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.