By Jessica May
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
“Our family is a chain and she was the link that held us all together. Now that link is forever missing,” said Dale Whitford, the mother of Tyvon Nicole Whitford. Tyvon was pregnant at the time of her mysterious murder on June 7, 2007. The murder has never been solved.
Whitford was born in Gainesville and had graduated from Interlachen High School. She worked for the Florida Department of Corrections for nearly three years and had lived at a two-bedroom home between Hawthorne and Interlachen. She moved into that house a month before she was murdered.
Before living there, Whitford lived with her mother for 25 years. While living with her mother, she gave birth to her first child and became pregnant with what would have been her second.
According to newspaper articles at the time, Tyvon was six months pregnant when she was shot and killed in her Hawthorne, Florida home, not far from Gainesville. A man called authorities to report the shooting shortly after a separate 911 call had been placed from the home. Articles indicate that a “person of interest” was interviewed at the time, but no arrest has ever been made. Tyvon’s 5-year-old son was in another room of the home at the time but did not see the shooting. Investigators said that it did not appear that her job as a correctional officer was related to her death.
Her mother, Dale Whitford, said if her daughter was to be remembered as anything, it would be as a good friend and mother.
“I raised my best friend and she was taken from me,” Dale Whitford said, speaking on the loss of her daughter. She has nothing left of her child but memories and her grandson, who was five years old and at home when his mother was killed.
“It was 11 years ago, but it hurts like it happened yesterday,” said Whitford. “We were best friends. After she became a mother the bond grew stronger.” Long movie nights, cookouts, and picnics: Tyvon Whitford was all about being there and spending time with her family.
It has been a difficult road for her son. “It’s so hard for him,” Dale said. She explains that there are certain times she knows the boy misses his mother. “I try to play the role, but there is only so much I can do as a grandmother.”
He still reflects on memories of his mother and the things they used to do together, she said. “Life for him is one day at a time.” The now 16-year-old boy keeps himself busy with school and basketball. Whitford said, “He is a pretty well-rounded kid and has a smile that will break your heart.”
Tyvon would would want to be remembered as a devoted mother, sister, and loving daughter, but mostly as a good mom. She loved being a mother. Whitford said that when her daughter was younger, she would help take care of her two younger siblings and loved them just as much as she did her own children.
Outgoing, loving, and with a heart of gold, Tyvon Whitford was a person of joy, laughter, and love. “If something wasn’t funny, she always knew a way to make it funny,” Dale said.
Raising her grandson helped Whitford keep going when times were tough due to the loss of her daughter. “I knew I needed to give him a better life, and she was such a great mother and I needed to keep it going.”
Dale also continuously goes back to the home where her daughter lived, where a memorial is set up. Going there is one of the ways she feels close to her daughter.
She still feels sad that more attention wasn’t given to the crime, particularly from the media. “It seems like they just moved on to the next thing.”
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Tyvon Nichole “CoCo” Whitford, please contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at (386) 329-0800 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 277-8477.
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