Florida Authorities Reopen Case of Woman Killed at Home in 1991 With Her Daughter Home

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

Police hope to use DNA technology in the case that wasn't available at the time.

A woman was stabbed in her Florida home in 1997 while her daughter hid under the bed, and now police are hoping that evidence gathered at the crime scene decades ago will help as they reopen the case.

Sherry Ross was stabbed to death on May 8, 1991, in her Lackawanna home during what police think was a robbery and now the murder weapon may be key in solving case the case, The Florida Times-Union reported. Authorities said the right things were collected from the crime scene and can now be tested, although DNA technology was in its early stages when the murder occurred, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Ross, 24, had her 6-year-old daughter home with her at the time, but the killer did not know the little girl was there, authorities said. Detective Ray Reeves, who works on cold cases, said there could have been a second victim in this case.

"It jumped out at me because you have a mom at home and her daughter witnesses this, sees part of it and hears it,” Reeves told The Florida Times-Union.  "We thought, we don't have a lot on this case, but let's get this back in front of the public. … We have that ability to move things up to today's investigative standards, which are so much further advanced than in the 1980s and 1990s. Science has caught up." 

On the day of her murder, Ross had picked her daughter up from school. The then 6-year-old told authorities she was in her room when she heard a scream around 3 p.m., and a male voice demanding gold and money, Reeves told the paper..

“She hides under her bed," Reeves said. "The doors are open and you can see through it, and she sees a man's feet. She sees out her bedroom door out into the living room."

Ross told the suspect that no one else was home when he asked. After the man left, Ross’ daughter found her mom lying on the floor and ran to a neighbor’s house to get help. Ross’ husband had been out of town at the time of the murder, authorities said.

Police believe the suspect in the killing was a man in his 20s with a tan or olive complexion, shoulder-length hair and standing about 5 feet 8 inches, Reeves told the paper.

Anyone with information on the homicide is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office at (904) 630-0500 or leave an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-8477 (TIPS).

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