City police won’t say what they know about double homicide

275-mark-samson-sapd-pioIn a repeat performance for the un-accredited municipal police department in St Augustine, mum’s the word when it comes to yesterday’s early morning double homicide at the corner of Spring Street and Fred Waters Way.

What we know from witnesses who have come forward in the media, largely out of fear and concern for their own safety and that of others in their neighborhood, is that they heard an explosion before police dispatchers received a call of a black Dodge Journey SUV engulfed in flames.

Firefighters and police arrived at the scene shortly before 1:00 a.m. to extinguish the blaze. When they were through, two dead bodies were discovered inside the vehicle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 4:38 a.m., more than three and a half-hours later, Historic City News and other media outlets were first informed by the St Augustine Police Department’s public information officer, Mark Samson, that the Fire Department was dispatched to put a car fire out.

“Once the fire was out our officers observed two bodies in the car,” Samson wrote. “Out of an abundance of caution this car fire is being investigated by our detectives.”

Samson concluded by saying that the investigation is in “the very early stages”, and, at this time, no other information is available; although promising that, as the investigation progresses, “the St. Augustine Police Department will be able to release more information.”

We’re still waiting.

Five and a half-hours later, Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 10:06 a.m., Samson offers 24-minutes’ notice that the St. Augustine Police Department will hold a “press conference” concerning “Suspicious Car Fire with two bodies found inside.”


Question:

When is a press conference not a press conference?

Answer:

When the press knows nothing more when they leave the conference than they did when they went in.


The following report was given during the 10:30 a.m. “press conference” by Samson.

  • Fred Waters Way and Spring Street initially called in as a car fire. (Already known)
  • City and County Law Enforcement in the area responded. (Already known)
  • Fire extinguished by fire department, at that time 2 bodies were found in the car. (Already known)
  • The Investigation at the scene is complete; the next phase of the investigation underway. (Already known)
  • The Medical Examiner will begin their work to identify the two victims and their cause of death. (Don’t they always?)
  • The St. Augustine Police Department, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the State Fire Marshal are working together during this investigation. (Don’t they always?)
  • If you know anything about this crime you can stay anonymous by calling Northeast Crime Stoppers at 1-888- 277-8477 and be eligible for a cash reward. (Can’t you always?)

We’re still waiting for the police to “release more information”.

At around 2:00 p.m., a social media post from the police department said investigators “do suspect possible foul play”.

Four more hours pass after the non-press conference, then on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 2:42 p.m., Samson informs the media, “I have just spoken with our Investigative Supervisor. He and his crew, with the assistance of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office investigators, have nothing new to report at this time.”

It’s nearly 3:00 p.m. and Samson is clearly calling it a day, writing, “If something breaks during the evening I will get that out to you.”

In closing, Samson offers, “If not, please plan on an email from me between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. for some sort of update.”

During the course of the day, Samson told one media source that the vehicle was registered to two owners and that officials had tracked down and were able to speak with one of them. Samson refused to identify the vehicle owners, the names of the dead occupants, or release any other information.

This morning’s “8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m.” update did not come.

This is the close of business on the second day after these apparent homicides and the police are still not talking. Perhaps FDLE or another accredited law enforcement agency should handle serious criminal investigations like this and the city police should stick to arresting artists.

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