A Florida sheriff’s department increased rewards for information on the office’s only unsolved murders in the past 11 years, as two grieving families hold out hope for justice.
Tampa affiliate Fox 13’s Evan Axelbank reported on the grieving families’ refusal to let their loved ones’ memories die – and the Polk County Sheriff's Office's unwillingness to give up its search.
“They're living in pain, they are living a nightmare right now. … They all sit there wishing that he or she could be back with them. They all sit there knowing that they will never have their loved one back,” Axelbank told Fox News.
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Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd made an appeal for help at a press conference July 22.
“In 11 years, we only have two unsolved homicides,” Judd said. “And quite frankly, if some friends of those victims would talk to us, we would have zero unsolved homicides, but apparently their friends would rather these folks be dead than help us find out who the murderers are.”
The earlier case involves the murder of Shabreon "Shay" Collins, who was 25 when she was shot and killed June 27, 2019, police said in a release at the time. She died the next day.
Judd later told FOX 13 that Collins was at her boyfriend’s house in Dundee and was shot through the front door as she struggled to keep it closed.
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"On this particular evening, Shay was in the kitchen cooking dinner. Hamburgers, bacon and french fries,” Judd told the outlet. “What's more American than that?"
Collins’ father, 51-year-old Ransie Collins, told Fox News Friday his daughter, a mother of two, “was a family person” who loved her kids and “did her best.”
“[There’s] never been closure. It changed a lot,” he said. “She loved her daddy just like I loved her.”
Months later, shortly after midnight on May 17 of this year, 33-year-old Alphonsa "Nu Nu" Payne was shot while walking along the street in Winter Haven, police said. He was rushed to an area hospital, and died.
“The victim was gunned down in the middle of the street,” Judd said in a press release the next day. “We’re asking for anyone who has information about this killing to contact us. Help us bring justice to those involved and provide a measure of solace and resolution to Mr. Payne’s family.”
Leslie Frazier, Payne’s older sister, told Fox News Friday she heard from her brother just days before he was killed. Her mother now speaks to police almost every day.
Payne was a father of five kids ranging in age from 3 to 7 years old, Frazier said. He had many friends, and was always checking in with his family, especially his mom, she said.
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“We have to take it one day at a time, but it's hard,” she said, when reached by phone.
Police are now offering a $15,000 reward in each case in the hopes that someone will come forward with information that leads investigators to the killers, the department spokesperson said. The person will not be required to testify.
Any person who believes they have information pertaining to either murder is asked to call Heartland CrimeStoppers, an anonymous tipline, at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477).