Solving One Florida Cold Case Forces Police Departments To Reassess Old Cases More Frequently

Criminal Defense / Sunday, March 8th, 2020

Cold cases are generally defined as those cases that detectives failed to solve in a timely manner. Most of those old cases are infrequently dusted off so a fresh set of eyes can take a new look at the aging pile of evidence. Most cases will never be solved. But some will be, thanks to new evidence, new information from old witnesses, new technology, or simply connecting dots that couldn’t be connected before (for whatever reason).

When Evelyn Mackey disappeared in 1981, her husband Mearl Mackey provided investigators assigned to the case story after story. Although investigators thought there was something fishy about the stories he told them, they didn’t find any real evidence that pointed toward his involvement in the disappearance. 

33 years later, Sergeant Phil Lankin asked that he be allowed to reinvestigate the old case for “Cold Justice.”

Detective Randy Williamson said, “After 33 years, we believe that only [Mearl] can explain Laverne’s disappearance.”

The investigators told Mearl that his wife’s body had been discovered along with cash to which he may be entitled. They brought him in and turned the screws. Williamson said to Mearl, “When this story finally gets told, you’re gonna look like such a flippin’ animal. Such a flippin’ low life. Give me the damn body. Because without the body, it looks like first-degree murder in every way, shape, form, or fashion. It’s the absolute truth, and then you add the coverup to it afterwards.”

And they were right. Mearl finally confessed that his wife had been fatally injured during a fishing accident, after which he tied her body to an anchor and let it sink.

He eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. 

Do you have any reason to believe that you could help police detectives solve a cold case? Do you have new information but are afraid to come forward? Do you know someone else who might be in a similar boat? First, there’s nothing to worry about — simply providing evidence won’t turn you into a person of interest or suspect overnight. 

But if you are afraid, then you should call a criminal defense attorney. This move can make sense depending on the circumstances of the case in question. For example, if you were particularly close to a victim, if you should have provided this information years ago, or if you have reason to believe that you would indeed be suspected of the crime (like if you were already a person of interest during the initial investigation).

If that sounds like you, then contact a criminal defense attorney. It might be possible to provide your new evidence or shed light on the old case anonymously.