Law enforcement honors bereaved survivors

CLEARWATER — Bereaved survivors and families of homicide victims gathered the evening of Sept. 25 at Ross Norton Recreation Center in Clearwater to observe the National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Victims. Survivors celebrated with representatives from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Clearwater Police Department, the City of Largo Police Department and the Springtime Club to discuss unsolved murders and pay tribute to the community’s homicide victims and their surviving family members.

The Springtime Club works on the premise that crime prevention is a collaborative effort that cannot be achieved by the police alone. They believe that we all must work hand-in-hand with law enforcement officers to fight crime, solve criminal cases and deter violence in our communities.

The City of Largo’s Police Department was a new edition to the program this year. The Springtime Club represents the family of one of Largo’s oldest cold cases. Myles Simpkins Sr., was on his way to visit his girlfriend with a friend when he suffered fatal wounds from a robbery attempt. As he and his friend approached her apartment on Fulton Street, both of them were confronted by two unidentified suspects. The suspects shot and killed Simpkins while his friend was able to get away and flee the incident unharmed.

During last year’s event, Simpkins’ 10-year-old son Myles Jr., approached the Springtime Club and asked if he could meet the detective assigned to his father’s case. Moved by the young survivor’s sincerity, the Club immediately reached out to Largo’s Police Department following the event. This year Myles Jr. sat and fellowshipped with Detective Brendan Arlington and Sergeant Mike Short during the event. Both law enforcement officers are responsible for the investigation of his father’s case.

“These partnerships add tremendous value to the families we serve,” shared Club member Annie Howard. “This event is to renew our commitment to those families that regardless of their circumstances, we will continue to support them and promote their cases until they can find closure.”

Springtime Club member Elaine Williams shared her family’s touching story on the program for the first time. The victim survivor of two homicides, she lost both her mother and her brother to violence. Elaine said that her mother’s case was solved immediately, but that her brother’s case remains open. Like so many of the cases and crime victims honored during the program, his murder is also a cold case. It has not been solved and no one has been arrested.

“Even if we had answers, they wouldn’t be good enough to justify the loss of life and so we just have to find courage and strength to move forward and know that we can honor our loved ones in a way that’s positive by spreading hope,” said Williams.

Myles Jr. is the spitting image of his father. His grandmother Demetris Brinson said that he loves to hear stories about the dad he never met. She believes that his acute interest in his father’s case and quest for justice makes him feel connected in some way to the man he loves but never knew. His father was killed before he was born September 20, 2003, at the age of 19.  His cold case is 12 years old.

After being invited to speak about what they miss most about their loved ones, the survivors released a procession of white dove balloons into the night sky. The annual day of remembrance was first established in 2007. This year was the third annual ceremony for the Springtime Club of Clearwater.

The investigations for the Springtime Club’s cold case initiatives are still ongoing and detectives are asking for information the public may have on these cases. It’s never too late to send in tips for cold cases – someone out there could hold the key, the missing piece of the puzzle to bringing closure for Myles Jr. and the families of these victims.

Anyone with information on the cold case of Myles Simpkins Sr. or the recent murder investigation of McKinley Torbit, Jr. may contact Detective Brendan Arlington in the Largo Police Department at (727) 587-6730.

Anyone with information on the cold case of Marco Waters and the active murder investigation of Gregory Williams may contact Sergeant Robert Snipes in the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 682-6307.

If you have information on the cold cases of Melanie Warren, Francois Bing, Clarence Bolden, William H. Sears, and Leon Dash, Jr., or the recent murder investigations of victims Milton Alexander, Charles J. Ferrell and Justin Austin, you may contact Sergeant Michael Ogliaruso at (727) 562-4383 or Major David Dalton at (727) 562-4352 in the Clearwater Police Department.

If you wish to remain anonymous and have information regarding these cases, please contact Crime Stoppers of Pinellas at 1-800-873-TIPS or www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org. You can also report information by texting TIP144 plus your tip to 274637(CRIMES) or send a mobile tip using Crime Stoppers new “TipSubmit Mobile” application, which is a free download for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. (Text STOP to 274637 to cancel. Text HELP to 274637 for help. Messaging and Data Rates May Apply.)

If your tip leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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