A mental health counselor and youth pastor in the Jacksonville area has been arrested for the 1994 murder of a teenager—and federal authorities are looking for other potential victims.
Ronnie Leon Hyde, 60, was arrested and charged with killing 16-year-old Fred Paul Laster, whose dismembered remains were found in 1994, and remained unidentified for more than two decades.
The FBI said there could be more victims out there, due to Hyde's work with children.
A dismembered torso had been discovered behind a gas station dumpster in Columbia County, Florida on June 5, 1994. The remains went unidentified until 2015. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children then made a media push including pictures of items found with the body. Laster’s family saw the poster, and contacted the local authorities. The identity was eventually proven as the long-missing teenager, through familial DNA comparisons by the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
The FBI confirmed that Hyde was a known associate of the Laster family at the time of the disappearance.
The Bureau is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying potential missing persons—and victims—that could be associated with Hyde.
“He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and beyond,” according to the “wanted” poster.
“Hyde’s employment history includes providing counseling services at multiple organizations, and the potential for extensive access to children,” it adds.
Hyde was also previously named as a suspect in an international child exploitation investigation, the FBI added.
Hyde’s first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. today, according to Duval County Jail inmate records. He is being held without bail.
Two homes owned by Hyde are currently being searched by investigators, according to a local TV news station. An arrest affidavit posted online indicates that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had been contacted in 1995 by the Laster family to file a missing person’s report on the teenager—and Hyde was the last person to see him. The affidavit also indicates that a DNA profile found on the flannel shirt found with Laster’s torso in 1994 was matched with nasal swabs acquired from a “trash pull” outside Hyde’s residence in April 2016.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office at 904-248-7000.