Early the morning of Oct. 12, a man fired numerous bullets from a high-powered rifle into a stationary sedan at the Circle K on Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway. Deon O’Neal Jenkins, 26, of Palm Coast, was killed. The driver was wounded but survived. The sheriff’s office has not released his identity.
The murder at first perplexed sheriff’s detectives, who have devoted unusual resources to the investigation since. In early November, the Sheriff’s Office doubled the reward for tips to $10,000. But still no breaks on the only unsolved murder on Sheriff Rick Staly’s watch in three years, at least not breaks the public has been privy to. A half dozen other murders have led to arrests within hours or days, at most a few weeks.
There was no break Friday–no overt break, anyway–but detectives from the Major Case Unit and members of other units served a search warrant this morning at 49 Berkshire Lane in Palm Coast related to the investigation, a house occupied by renters. The information from that search remains minimal, but the raid and the wording of a sheriff’s release suggest detectives may be closing in on their target: material evidence collected from search warrants often serves to ensure that whatever charges are eventually leveled are solidly substantiated. In the age of cell phones, thumb drives and other electronic hand-prints, search warrants often target the sort of equipment that takes time to analyze, though detectives generally know what they’re looking for.
The wording of the release all but confirms it.
“During the course of the investigation, the Major Case Unit was able to identify multiple coconspirators who are believed to have played a role in the killing of Jenkins,” a sheriff’s release stated. “A connection between the occupants of this residence and the murder was discovered, which led to the execution of the search warrant. Multiple items of evidence were recovered and removed from the residence.” For the sheriff’s office to advertise that sort of certainty points to confidence in the trail, the sort of confidence that clearly seems not to be jeopardizing detectives’ ability to find their suspect, or suspects.
Two individuals who were at the house at the time the search warrant was served were handcuffed during the search, but not arrested. No children were home. “I am not able to release any details regarding the evidence seized,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said.
But even Sheriff Rick Staly, who doesn’t usually risk overt confidence without knowing he has the goods, appeared to have trouble containing himself about a break in the case, soon, assuming the case hasn’t actually moved beyond that point. Staly’s assessment hints that it may have: “Our Detectives have been on top of this case from day one,” Staly was quoted as saying in a release issued late this afternoon. “I’ll say this, the walls are closing in. If you have any information about this case, now is the time to come forward. Multiple persons of interest have been identified and it’s time for them to decide whether they want to be a witness or a defendant.”
The agency reiterated its offer of a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killer and any accomplices. Anyone with information can call CrimeStoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477) and will remain completely anonymous.