By Alfred Nairn
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Once a Marine, always a Marine: that’s how Edgar Lee Hill carried himself throughout his life.
Known by his loved ones as “Eddie,” the Marine and Vietnam veteran was described as a kind man who struggled after the war.
Hill suffered from nightmares related to his time on the battlefield. Due in part to his mental struggles, he lost custody of his children to the state. He had considered himself a family man and he took this setback hard. His despondence eventually led to drugs.
“He was always clean-cut, well dressed, and smelled good, but when he got on drugs you wouldn’t have recognized him,” said Edgar’s younger sister, Tonya Hill.
Hill’s life began to turn with the birth of his only daughter, Danielle. After her birth, he wanted to change and become a new man to provide a better life for her.
“When she came along, Danielle changed his whole world,” said Tonya. “He said, ‘I’m changing for her. I want her to go to college and have beautiful dresses.’”
Hill kept his promise by turning his life around, checking into a veterans’ hospital, getting clean, and getting a job as a truck driver.
Danielle wasn’t more than two years old when Hill was gunned down in an apparent robbery attempt at the intersection of 21st Street and Moncrief Road in Jacksonville, Florida. It was April 5, 1991 near his girlfriend’s house. Hill was 43 years old.
Family members believe he was shot while trying to prevent someone from stealing aluminum.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Hill was rushed to Shands Hospital (now UF Health) trauma center with multiple gunshot wounds, where he was later pronounced deceased. The only items collected at the scene as possible evidence was a brown hat (later determined to belong to the victim) and a brown paper bag with a sandwich inside. A canvass of the area was conducted and several residents reported hearing three to four gunshots. One person reported seeing two to three unknown black males fleeing from the scene. Law enforcement has indicated that the public’s assistance is greatly needed to help solve this case.
Hill was one of three men slain in Jacksonville within that 24 hour period, but police do not believe the killings were related.
With more than 27 years since his murder, Hill’s family now just wants answers.
“My mother’s gone, sister’s gone, and a brother that left after him,” said Tonya Hill. “It’s just three of us left. I have a brother, sister, and a mother that died without knowing. I would just love to know who did it, but I believe in God because he knows who did it.”
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Edgar Hill, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
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