Mother, son find relief with arrest in 43-year-old murder

Family fought for justice in the 1974 killing of a devoted husband and father

By Staci Spanos - Reporter/anchor, Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The family of the man whose murder was a mystery for 43 years in Jacksonville, is now speaking only to News4Jax after a recent break in the case that led to an arrest.

In 1974, 34-year-old Freddie Farah was gunned down during a robbery attempt at the Grand Park grocery store he owned. Freddie's son, Bobby Farah, was just six years old at the time, but he has spent his adult years pushing for police to find justice for his dad. That tenacity did pay off with an arrest finally made last month. 

"You're in our hearts and prayers every day," Bobby said at his father's grave, standing by his mother Nadya.

"He was the love of my life. The father of my four children," said Nadya. "He was just the sweetest guy you ever met."

It's a bittersweet time for them as they do have relief in knowing someone's finally been arrested, but that doesn't dull the pain of losing a loving husband and an affectionate father.

All these years later, Nadya remembers getting the call no young wife can ever imagine receiving.

"When we got the phone call, they told us he was shot in the hand and that he was in the ER at what was then Methodist Hospital. So, I went racing over there and I was met by relatives at the door and I could tell by the look on their face that it wasn't just a shot in the hand and that he had passed away," Nadya said.

Freddie was shot in the head, and over the years, his murder case went cold. Nadya was left with four kids -- all under the age of 11, and because she was busy, she didn't follow up with police. But as her son Bobby grew, he wanted answers to his questions, and he convinced a detective to reopen his father's case in 1998.

"It just bothered me that I didn't know who or why," Bobby said. "And I told her, until they tell me to stop asking and quit coming around, that I would continue to ask."

"After 7, 8, 10 years, I would tell him, 'Honey if they have not found him now, they are never going to find him. Wither he's dead or he just disappeared,'" Nadya recalled telling Bobby.

Johnie Lewis Miller, known in New Orleans as "Uncle Louie." (Background photo courtesy Barry Newman)

But Bobby didn't quit, and over the years, DNA technology evolved. After several dead ends, police got a DNA match on a palm print from the crime scene -- a print police say belongs to Johnie Lewis Miller, a street performer known as "Uncle Louie," popular for his Uncle Sam mime routine in New Orleans' French Quarter. 

The Farah family was summoned to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office last month to talk with detectives.

"He looked at my mom and said, 'We've made an arrest in your husband's murder.' And it was overwhelming," Bobby recalled.

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"I was in shock," added Nadya, "Because I was expecting them to say, 'I'm sorry, we did our best but we couldn't find him.' But when he told me that, I was in shock. I didn't know what to say, but then I was relieved. After all of his efforts, it paid off."

Crime doesn't just affect the immediate family, it also affects generations.

"You have grandchildren, you have eight grandchildren. Hopefully, you get to see them from heaven," Nadya said to her late husband by his grave.

Bobby says he's not mad that he was robbed of the experience of having a father, but describes the feeling he has more like frustration.

"He missed out on so many things and I often wonder where exactly I would be in my life, and my children's life, and my sisters' lives, had he been here," explained Bobby

"Every time a big event occurs in our life, I would think, 'What would Freddie say if he saw this? Would he be proud?'" Nadya added.

The Farahs know that just because there's been an arrest, it doesn't mean there will be a conviction in the case. They are preparing themselves for that possibility but truly feel if Johnie Lewis Miller wasn't the right person, the evidence wouldn't have led police to him. Miller has an extradition hearing scheduled for June 26 in Louisiana.

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