By Sara Crouch
The lessening of the constant pain never comes easily – if at all — for the families of the murdered.
But it’s even harder when there’s are few answer in a case that’s gone cold.
That’s the case with Bernard Chapple, the father of then-23-year-old Kelli Chapple.
“You know, they say you’ll get closure,” Chapple said. “You don’t ever get closure. You suffer every day. You just want to know the answers to what happened.”
It is a pain that Bernard deals with every single day, “It still hurts as much as the day I found out.”
The date the pain began for Chapple was Sept. 8, 2007.
He hasn’t been pain free since.
On that day, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at an apartment on University Boulevard. The officers found Kelli’s body in the bedroom.
The cause of death was gunshot wounds. Her boyfriend, 28-year-old David Matos, was found dead in the kitchen. He also had been shot.
Kelli’s father distinctly remembers when he first heard of her murder. An avid viewer of the news, he was watching television and heard that two people were found dead in an apartment. He remembers the story stuck out to him because there had been several murders in the news the night before.
Not long after watching the story on the news, Chapple received a call from one of his daughter’s co-workers at ADT Security. The co-worker asked if he had heard from his daughter. Chapple replied that he had not seen her and that he assumed she was just at work because she had stayed at her boyfriend’s house the night before.
“Her co-worker was very hesitant to tell me what was next,” he said. “She kept holding back until she said ‘I think Kelli is dead.’”
The co-worker told him that she had driven by Matos’ home and seen police officers and his daughter’s car. When Chapple returned to the news report he, too, spotted his daughter’s car in the video.
“I knew it was her,” he said. “With as much news as I watch I just knew it was her. She was not at home. She was not at work. She had not contacted me for a while. Kelli would always call me.”
Eventually, JSO called and asked Chapple to come to the morgue to identify a body. He never got to see her body; JSO only showed him a picture. Chapple’s gut feeling was confirmed the second he saw that picture.
His daughter’s murder, as well as the murder of her boyfriend, remains a mystery. Police say there hasn’t been enough evidence to file charges.
Although, the young woman’s life had been unexpectedly cut short she lived a full life with a loving family.
Kelli Chapple was born in New Jersey into a family of three. Her family consisted of her father, her mother and her older sister, Leslie. Kelli spent most of her life in Brooklyn, N.Y.
After her graduation from high school she began attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
She emerged from a bad relationship and decided she wanted to get away when she moved to Jacksonville in February 2007. Her father had relocated to Jacksonville due to his job with Meryl Lynch and she traveled here to join him.
The young woman began working at Edward Waters College as an administration assistant while attending Florida State College at Jacksonville. Eventually, she got a position at ADT Security as a customer service representative while attending FSCJ to pursue a degree in biology.
She was smart, her family recalled.
“She wanted to know everything,” Chapple said. “She loved to talk about life and the Bible with me. She was very quizzical. She always wanted to talk and know more.”
Kelli’s older sister, Leslie Chapple, agreed, recalling a time she had purchased a cell phone and within minutes Kelli had it in her hands and was working the phone like a pro.
Kelli also loved to cook for her father. She would especially make his favorite kind of food, lasagna. An avid writer, she would also write him poems.
Leslie adored her younger sister. Kelli had a good nature about her. She was sweet, she was kind, and she wanted to make everybody happy. Kelli would always try to make people laugh. “She made light out of every situation,” Leslie said.
Kelli’s relationship with Matos was very brief. She had met him while out at a nightclub in Jacksonville. He, too, was from New York originally and he and Kelli hit it off while bonding over the city.
Chapple will never forget his daughter who was gone too soon.
“There is not a day that I don’t think about her and what she could have been,” Chapple said.
“She was 23 years old and had her whole life ahead of her.”
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