By Paolo Cesar
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Keisha Murray lost her life to an unknown assailant July 7, 2013. For her family, especially her sisters Julia Clover and Ericka, their entire family fell apart.
According to Julia, when police discovered Keisha in the cemetery on 2600 Ribault Scenic Drive, her body had been set against a tree and bathed, with no traces of the murderer. Julia considers it one last act of compassion and decency on the part of the killer, despite the pain her family still feels after that day.
Julia slowed to gather her thoughts as she recounted life with Keisha before losing her sister. She said that until fifteen years ago, Keisha was “the life of the party” and a beloved sister and mother. If she had survived, she would be a grandmother now. “She had a great sense of humor, always said the goofiest things,” Ericka said about Keisha. “You could always get a smile on your face thanks to her.”
This changed with her meeting a new group of friends, whom Julia stated had started Keisha’s slow downward spiral.
“She was always too trusting,” Ericka said. “She always thought that anybody who smiled at her meant they wanted to be friends. But that was just who she was.”
Julia said that after that, Keisha received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Julia’s family ultimately scattered two years after the homicide. Her mother, in particular, suffered the worst from Keisha’s death. According to Julia, she had starved herself for three months and dropped from 175 pounds to 80 pounds, a severe enough condition for a hospital stay and a long road toward healing. Julia herself has been working constantly to keep Keisha’s case open, calling private investigators and law enforcement for any new leads and keeping it from going cold. This dedication has also prompted Julia to keep going in her law enforcement education, all to find more to close her sister’s case and to prove her murderer wrong.
“Julia, you’re the one pursuing a career in law enforcement, so I’m leaving it up to you to find the one who killed our sister,” Julia quoted her sister Paula as saying. According to her, this was the “fire under the pan” for her and her sisters to get going.
Julia also noted that of Keisha’s new friends, two of them, both women, were also found murdered two months after Keisha’s homicide. Coupled with losing an aunt in the family, Julia felt more motivation to find every lead possible.
Keisha was left for dead against a tree in a cemetery. Julia wants nothing more than to show the murderer that Keisha hasn’t been forgotten. To her, the weight of Keisha’s life, of being a sister, mother, and grandmother, should never be something to shrug off.
“I’ve exhausted all avenues, but I’m still hoping for the day my family can finally face the murderer in court,” Julia said. “We may not ever find closure, but we could at least find justice.”
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